Viking Lore 1
Coming June 13th from Siren Publishing
Available for pre-order http://www.bookstrand.com/honor-bound
Jarl Radulfr is a warrior, the chieftain of his people. It is his duty to protect and fight for them. But duty comes at a price. Radulfr has no one to call his own. When his clan is attacked, he accepts a bride in a peace-pledge to avoid war with a neighboring clan. He doesn't know until he arrives that the bride he has come to claim is a man.
His betrothed is not what he expected, but Radulfr has sworn upon his honor to accept the peace-pledge. It doesn't hurt that Ein is pretty damn cute. Radulfr decides to accept things as they are and begins to take Ein home. But there are those that don't want them to reach home—gods, mercenaries, and the man who started the war in the first place. Radulfr and Ein will have to use all of their wits, and the growing bond between them, to keep themselves alive because gifts from the gods come at a price.
Erotic Alternative Historical Fantasy Romance, gods, shape-shifters
Radulfr knocked impatiently on the wooden door inside the byre. He didn't know what to think when he had asked for Ein and been directed to a building that housed the farm animals. He could think of no reason his bride would be inside of a byre.
Radulfr frowned as he opened the door and stepped inside. The voice he heard sounded suspiciously like a man's voice. If that was so, Radulfr wanted to know why a man was inside a closed room with his betrothed.
His eyes were immediately drawn to the small figure sitting on a raised platform sitting across the room from him. He was mesmerized by slightly paled skin hidden under streams of sunlight blond hair. It took all of his finely honed control to look away from the alluring form and around the rest of the room.
"I am looking for Ein," he said when he didn't see anyone else in the small room.
Radulfr's eyes snapped back to the person sitting on the platform. He peered closer and knew he was definitely looking at a man but he couldn't dismiss the stirring he felt in his groin at the vision before him. He just didn't understand it.
"You are Ein?" The man nodded, swallowing so hard that Radulfr could hear it from his position by the door. "Son of Jarl Dagr?"
"Jarl Dagr is not my faðir but I am who you are looking for."
"I'm looking for a woman," Radulfr snapped.
"I'm sorry you were deceived but as you can see…" Ein stood up and held his hands out to his sides… "I am not a woman and Jarl Dagr knows it well."
"By Thor's hammer," Radulfr whispered, "I've been bonded to a man."
Radulfr couldn't begin to describe the rage that instantly flooded him but he could see it mirrored in Ein's fear as the man stepped back from him, eyeing him warily.
"I'm sorry you were deceived," Ein said again. "I'm sure under the circumstances that you can bring suit against Jarl Dagr before the lawspeakers and have the hansal nullified."
Radulfr's eyes narrowed as he heard Ein's words. "We rode through the night to reach this hov. No one could have gotten here before us. How did you even know about the hansal?"
If anything, Ein's face paled even more as he shrugged. "I just do."
"That answer is not good enough, Ein." Radulfr crossed his arms over his chest to keep himself from reaching for the man and giving him a good shake. "Was this whole thing set up by Dagr and Fafnir? Were you involved?"
"No, please, you have to believe me. Fafnir and I may have had the same mother but I've never even met the man. I only know of Jarl Dagr because he pays a foster fee to the hov to house me. He doesn't want me returning to his land and bringing his shame to light before his clan. I swear I had nothing to do with any of this."
"Then tell me how you know we were betrothed."
"Someone stopped by and told me to expect you."
"Just some old man."
"And you believed him?" Radulfr snorted.
"You're here, aren’t you?"
Radulfr gritted his teeth at Ein's sarcastic answer. He needed to maintain control of his emotions, especially his anger. Losing control could be dangerous for everyone, including Radulfr.
"Who was this old man?"
Ein pressed his lips together and shrugged. Radulfr narrowed his eyes. It was clear that he wasn't going to get any answers out of Ein. He just hoped the man didn't continue to fight him when they reached home or things would go very badly for both of them. Radulfr didn't like being thwarted.
Radulfr stepped back and leaned again the wall, taking a deep breath as he suddenly realized he had already decided to take Ein home with him. He just didn't know if that decision came from his own sense of honor or the way the man looked.
He had to admit, as men went, Ein was by far one of the most attractive Radulfr had ever seen. His skin had a porcelain quality but seemed to almost shine in the soft light from the moon shining through the window.
Ein wasn't a big man, certainly not as big as Radulfr was. He'd never make a warrior. Radulfr couldn't say he was disappointed in the fact. He didn't like the idea of his betrothed being in battle. He'd much prefer to come home and have someone welcome him back.
The smoky silver eyes that kept peering over at him between strands of long white blond hair intrigued Radulfr more than anything. Ein's eyes were very expressive. Radulfr thought he might be able to see his soul mirrored in those smoky depths.
"I know why I agreed to the peace-pledge," Radulfr finally said after several moments of silence. "Why did you? It is your right to deny the handsal."
"The old man pointed out to me that I have spent nearly all of my life here at the hov. I am unlikely to meet anyone here that is marriageable. If I don't, I will never be able to go out into the world and experience what it has to offer."
Radulfr wasn't sure how he felt about that statement beyond the fact that it made him want to growl. "And how do you feel about being betrothed to me?"
Ein's face flushed and he looked quickly down at the floor. "I'm okay with it. The old man assured me that you were an honorable man."
"I sure would like to meet this old man of yours."
Silver eyes flashed up at him. "Maybe you will some day."
He didn't know who this old man was that Ein kept talking about or how Ein knew him, but Radulfr had the distinct feeling he might be seeing him one day too. And he would have a lot of questions for the old man when he did.
"How do you feel about this betrothal?"
"I don't know. I never really thought about one before today."
"Fair enough but you do understand that this is for life, right? There are very few reasons for divorce in our world and none that would pertain to either of us unless you plan on sleeping around on me."
Ein's face flushed again. "No."
"And as I will not raise a hand against you then there should be no reason for us to bring any grievance before the assembly. If you agree to this handsal, and I will have your agreement before we consummate it, then we will not be separated except in death."