Friday, February 20, 2015

Author Feature: Anna Markland and her Viking Roots Medieval Romance Saga

At the outset of my writing odyssey, I embarked on telling the story of a noble Norman family caught up in the Conquest of England. I subsequently wrote four series of books about the family and its offshoot branches. I am an amateur genealogist, hence my interest in ancestry and roots.

I then decided to turn my attention to the ancestors of these Normans. Who were they, and how did they establish a powerful province in what was then West Francia whose warriors eventually conquered England, most of Wales, parts of Scotland and then turned its attention to Ireland? (Not to mention Italy)

Of course, they were Vikings, those fierce, indomitable Scandinavians whose exploits changed much of the world.

The ones I was interested in came to Francia in 911 AD from Norway, led by a man named Hrolf Ganger, who subsequently took the name Rollo. It was from him that William the Conqueror was descended.

My Viking Roots series tells the tale of a man who came with Rollo and founded a powerful dynasty of his own.

The Rover Betrayed is the newly released third book in the series. It’s currently available for preorder on Amazon.

The hero is Magnus, the son of the original Viking to come with Rollo, Bryk Kriger (The Rover Bold).

Though recently widowed, Magnus is obliged to leave his grieving daughters to fight against Flemish incursions into Norman territory. He captures Judith, a Flemish noblewoman, and quickly loses his heart. But can he trust her not to betray him and his country to her powerful brother, the Count of Flanders.

I was born and educated in England, but I’ve lived most of my life in Canada. I was an elementary school teacher for 25 years. It was a rewarding career, financially, spiritually and emotionally.
After that I worked with my husband in the management of his businesses. He’s a born entrepreneur who likes to boast he’s never had a job!

My final “career” was as Director of Administration of a global disaster relief organization. I then embarked on writing a romance, essentially for my own satisfaction. I chose the medieval period mainly because that genre of historical romance is one I enjoy reading.

I have a keen interest in genealogy. This hobby has had a tremendous influence on my stories. My medieval romances are about family honor, ancestry, and roots. As an amateur genealogist, I cherished a dream (as do many) of tracing my own English roots back to the Norman Conquest—an impossibility since I am not descended from nobility! So I made up a family and my stories follow its members through successive generations.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical romance is the in-depth research necessary to provide readers with an authentic medieval experience. I based the plot of my first novel, Conquering Passion, on an incident that actually happened to a Norman noblewoman.

I hope you come to know and love my cast of characters as much as I do.

The Rover Betrayed (special preorder price)
Twitter @annamarkland

Excerpt: (Judith has swooned on catching sight of the Viking army. Magnus is carrying her.)

Magnus carried the distraught woman into the abbey, wondering how she’d known he was of Viking descent without his helmet. Perhaps because he was fair of hair she’d assumed.
If only the Flemish woman would stop screeching. The sure way to silence her came to him in a moment of clarity. He sat down on one of the benches half way to the altar, bent his head and clamped his mouth over hers.
Her eyes flew open. She stopped squirming.
Her lips were surprisingly sweet and her skin smelled faintly of wood smoke. It reminded him of home. Her body felt right in his arms now she’d calmed, though she was still panting.
He dragged his eyes away from her heaving breasts and met her gaze. Something in those startled green depths kicked him in the gut and spiraled into his shaft. He deepened the kiss, running his tongue along the seam of her lips.
Her breathing slowed and her skin warmed. The fear in her eyes turned to puzzlement. She parted her lips.
Desire flooded Magnus’s body. He itched to explore her mouth with his tongue, but doing so would frighten her. He sensed she was still a maid, unused to men. He licked the tip of her tongue, elated when she didn’t withdraw. He kept his eyes locked with hers, making sure he hadn’t alarmed her.
His shaft turned to granite when she moaned, deep in her throat, and swirled her tongue over his bottom lip.
Whatever plagued his throat chose the moment to resume its tickling. He eased her away from his body as a coughing fit racked him. She looked at him strangely, but then she too coughed.
He reached into his gambeson for the flask of apple brandy, hesitating as he uncorked it. There wasn’t much left. Her eyes were watering. He steadied her shoulders with his hand, and lifted the flask to her lips.
She pulled back when the aroma of the fumes hit her nostrils. “Drink,” he insisted, pointing to his throat. “It helps.”
She put her hands around the flask and took a sip, then as he’d known she would, squeezed her eyes tight shut and grimaced. But the coughing stopped.
She smiled weakly. Desperate to keep the smile on her lovely face he searched for inspiration, then drew two of Ida’s linen squares from inside his tunic. He handed her one and blew his nose on the other.
She gave him the flask, then dabbed at her nose.
He took the last swig of brandy. The fiery liquid cleared his head. He tapped his chest. “Magnus,” he said.
She furrowed her brow. “Judith,” she replied in a husky voice, handing back the linen square.
The sight of Ida’s handiwork in another woman’s hand broke the enchantment. His daughters hadn’t yet accepted their mother’s death. He was part of a war party and she was his hostage. Her brother would pay a hefty ransom.
He shook his head, placing her on the bench beside him. “Keep it,” he said, coming to his feet. “Stay here. There is no escape.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day Blog Hop and Giveaway

Thanks for joining the Love Historicals Valentine's Day Blog Hop and Giveaway! Be sure to return to the Love Historicals site for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you found me from the Love Historicals site one of my Love Historicals fellow authors' sites. Remember the name of my hero below and be sure to go back to Love Historical site to enter to win a $100 gift card!

On the day devoted to love and romance, Love Historicals authors agreed to feature the most romantic scene from our most recent novel.

Reckless Wager features two of my favorite characters I've ever written. Both Detective Benjamin Quinn and Kate Guthrie are scarred by past experiences, and in each other they find the second chance at love that everyone deserves.

For me, one of the most romantic scenes in the story is the moment when Kate chooses not to let Ben walk out of her life. She doesn't know him well, but she knows he's not a man she's ready to say goodbye to. Though she doesn't know it yet, it's the moment that will change her future and give her a chance at love like she's never experienced before.

Be sure to visit the other Love Historicals authors on the hop and our main website for more giveaways!

Powered by Linky Tools Click here to view the other Love Historicals authors participating in the Valentine's Day Hop.
Kate watched Detective Sergeant Quinn walk away. His tall, broad form and black coat were easy to spot, even in the early morning mist. His strides were long, his gait hurried, as if he wished to escape her as swiftly as he was able.

He would find Rose. Kate was certain of it. Even on short acquaintance, Kate sensed a deep vein of tenacity in Detective Quinn. It was something in his eyes. A hunger, a craving—a look she wouldn't soon forget.

She squinted. His dark form faded, becoming harder to see. The streets filled quickly with carts and carriages and pedestrians buying or selling goods. The fog still clung in corners and soon the detective, the first man who had kissed her on the mouth in nearly ten years, would merge with the London haze.

She started after him. In her practical boots, her stride was sure, and she caught up to Detective Quinn quickly.

She couldn't just let him disappear into the crush of Whitechapel. That figure, hunched against the wind, unmistakable with those wide warrior shoulders and hair that only revealed its true auburn color when a slice of sunlight broke through the haze. That less-than-a-gentleman detective sergeant who'd kissed her quite inappropriately and more deliciously than any man ever had.

If she let him go, how would she ever learn what happened to Rose? And then another thought—foolish, improper, bone deep. If she let him go, would any man ever kiss her that way again?


The news that the fellow pushing his way through the throngs on Whitechapel Roadwas a police detective caused a bit of consternation among the crowd. Kate saw a group of men move away from Detective Quinn and a woman selling rags shouted something no lady would dare repeat. The man himself stopped his progress and watched her approach.

Kate slowed to a more ladylike pace and took a deep breath before she paused in front of Detective Quinn. He'd crossed his arms, and she could see the muscle in his jaw ticking where he clenched it. He was so tall; she took a step back to gaze up at him properly. Clear-eyed and clean-shaven, he exuded an air of confidence she hadn't seen in him the night before. The bluish shadow of a bruise marred the skin near his right eye and cheek, and Kate wondered again about how he'd been wounded. His eyes appeared darker in the daylight than they had in his dim lodging room, but perhaps it was just irritation that turned them a deeper blue. And he was irritated. She expected him to say so, but he simply gazed down at her so intently she was certain he would divine every secret she had ever stashed away.

"I would like to come with you to find Rose."

He moved, his chest heaving up and down, and Kate thought he might be on the verge of a coughing fit. Then she heard laughter bubbling up, a rich, deep chuckle that shook his whole body. His smile took her breath away. She felt dizzy, on the verge of giggling, but stopped herself. He was laughing at her, after all.

"I fail to see what is so amusing, Detective."

Kate took a step back when he reached for her, but he wouldn't be deterred. Detective Quinn moved closer, grasped her shoulders, and turned her around. He pulled her flush against his body, embracing her in his arms, surrounding her with his heat.

"Do you see that man across the way? Near the pub entrance?"

"Y-yes." Kate spoke through the shivers sparked by his nearness.

"He steals the lives of girls like Rose. Forces them onto the streets and then takes their earnings. Beats them, or worse, if they refuse to pay."

Kate tried to look back at the detective, but he'd bent his head close to hers. He whispered in her ear, warming her skin with his breath.

"And the woman over there, sitting on the pavement?"

Kate nodded, her hair brushing against his cheek.

"She's fresh out of Newgate. Though she looks old and broken, she's the nimblest thief I've ever known. Take care not to pass her on the street. She'll cut your purse from your skirt and you'll be none the wiser."

"I—" Kate opened her mouth to protest. She'd learned her lesson about Whitechapel early on and took care never to bring valuables with her when she volunteered at the clinic. She certainly wasn't fool enough to carry coin loose in her skirt pocket.

"See the boy. He's just under the stairwell, covered in grime. Rather blends in with the bricks and muck, doesn't he? Young Tommy Lark looks and listens. He listens to the streets for the King of Thieves and then he sings just like his namesake when he finds a likely mark. Be careful not to let him hear your address when you call it up to the cabbie. Especially if you've any valuables at home you'd care to keep."

Leaning to the right, he placed a finger under her chin, tilting her head toward him.

"You have no idea of the dangers all around you. If you did, you wouldn't walk these streets so blithely."