Friday, October 25, 2019

Guest Post: Night of the Owl by Judith Sterling

Today is my guest is Judith Sterling talking about her newest release: Night of the Owl



Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Florida but HATED the heat and longed for four seasons.  As soon as possible, I got out and studied in England, Scotland, and Sweden, ending up with an MA in linguistics and a BA in history, with a minor in British Studies.  I also lived in Wisconsin, Virginia, and on the island of Nantucket.  Currently, I live in Salem, Massachusetts with my husband (who works at The House of the Seven Gables) and our 15-year-old twin boys.  When not writing, I work at The Witch House, the 17th-century home of witch trials judge Jonathan Corwin.

What do like the most and the least about writing?

I love creating detailed outlines for my books, allowing the story to reveal itself to me and then planting information and clues at just the right moments.  The actual writing is also fun, though, and I enjoy editing as I go along.  What I like least is all the promotion and marketing necessary.  It overwhelms me at times!

Give us a peek into your latest published work? 

PhD student Ardyth Nightshade has renounced men and pursues her twentieth-century career with single-minded focus. When fate whisks her to medieval England, she meets her match in a man whose passions mirror her own. Can she sacrifice ambition for a love she never sought?
Hugh, Lord Seacrest confounds all who know him. He refuses to marry without a meeting of minds and hearts, and no lady has even approached his ideal…until Ardyth. But she's an odd one, with unique skills, shocking habits, and total conviction she needs no man. She also harbors secrets, and in the midst of rumors, plots, and murder, trust is fragile.
A woman outside of her time. A man ahead of his. They must take a leap of faith to forge a bond that will shape history.

What’s next on the writing horizon for you?

I’m about to start edits on The Sword Unsheathed, the third book in my YA paranormal fantasy series, Guardians of Erin, and I’m also writing Return of the Raven, the fifth and final book in my medieval romance series, The Novels of Ravenwood.

Is there anything you want to tell readers?

Whether I’m writing medieval romance or young adult fantasy, all of my books have at least a hint of the paranormal.  The romances take place in northern England; the YAs, in Ireland, for I lost my heart to the British Isles long ago.  My favorite themes include true love, destiny, healing, redemption, time travel, and finding the mystical in the mundane.  My ultimate goal as an author is to make readers happy by whisking them far away from their troubles.

Excerpt:

Ardyth looked from one tunnel entrance to the next, and then the next.  The ledge in front of them was substantial.  It ran along the rock wall to the right, all the way to the mouth of the cave, winding around it to continue along the outer cliff.

Again, she pointed.  “Where does that lead?”

“Shouldn’t you be doffing your clothes?”

Her eyes narrowed.  “In other words, you don’t intend to answer my question.”

He grinned.  “Clever, aren’t you?”

She returned his smile.  “I like to think so.”

“If you’re stalling because you cannot swim—”

“Oh, I can swim.”  She could hardly wait to feel the cool water on her skin.

He folded his arms, and his intense, gray eyes held a dare.  “Then show me.”

“Hold this.”  She handed him the folded smock.  Get ready to eat crow, buddy!  Quickly, she removed her boots, hose, and tunics.  When only her thin, white chemise remained, she stole a peek at her skeptical host.  He stared at her bare feet.

She sighed.  “I know.  My feet are hardly attractive.  In fact, I’ve always thought my toes resemble…”

He raised his eyebrows.  “What?”

Astronauts.  But I can’t tell you that.  “Nothing.”

His eyebrows settled again, but the orbs beneath them seemed to glow with a new light.  “I beg to differ with your opinion.  Your feet are quite…lovely.”

She almost laughed, until heat flooded her cheeks.  I’m blushing?  “Thank you,” she muttered.  With an inward groan, she started toward the water.  For crying out loud!  He only complimented your feet.  Your pale, crazy, NASA-evoking feet.  Get a grip!

The ocean breeze caught the hem of her smock as she stepped into the surf.  Foamy water—colder than she would’ve liked—enveloped her feet.  Thank God for the heat of the sun!  But this was the closest she’d come to a bath in days, and she was determined to prove her skills to the man who underestimated her at every turn.  She waded forward, and the brisk, undulating water swallowed her calves, knees, thighs, and hips.

“Lady Ardyth!”

She turned.  Her dry smock in his hands, Hugh stood with feet well apart on the wet sand.

“You needn’t prove your courage further!” he called above the lapping, swishing voice of the sea.  “Come back before—”

“Courage isn’t the point!  Swimming is!”  The level of the surrounding water lowered to her thighs, signaling a coming wave.

She turned just as it crested and dove headfirst into it.  Completely submerged in the chill, rushing water, she headed left and allowed herself to rise to the surface.  She swam freestyle for several strokes, then flipped onto her back and floated with abandon.  After a minute or two, she flipped over, and swam in the opposite direction.  Then she stood with the water at her ribs, waited for the next wave, and indulged in bodysurfing, which carried her with a whoosh back toward shore.

Satisfied, she straightened, knee-deep in the water.  Her wet chemise clung to her frame, and she knew Lord Seacrest was getting a lordly eyeful.  Her nipples were rock-hard from the cold.

She rolled her eyes toward the bright, blue sky.  My kingdom for a bra!  And throw in a pair of underwear, too!  But both articles of clothing were back at Nihtscua and not likely to appear anytime soon.  For the first time since plunging into the surf, she regarded Hugh.

Eyes wide, her dry smock clutched in his hands, he stood as if frozen.  Only his gaze moved, traveling from her breasts to the apex of her thighs.

She pulled the smock away from her flesh as best she could and advanced toward him, stopping an arm’s length away.  “I told you I could swim.”

He blinked.  Then his full, sensual lips curled into a smile.  “Indeed, you did.”

“And?”

“And what?”

“You’ve doubted me twice already.  Perhaps you owe me an apology.”

His eyes widened, then relaxed.  “Perhaps I do.  Pray…forgive me.”

The words couldn’t have come easily, and the fact he’d said them made her grin.  “I forgive you.  This time.  But I ask respectfully that you not underestimate me again.”

For two seconds, he hesitated.  “╩╝Tis a reasonable request, and I shall endeavor to honor it.”  He gave her a quizzical look.  Then he shook his head and chuckled.  “Is there anything you cannot do?”

She thought for a moment.  “I’ve never ridden aside.  If I’m going to ride something, I spread my legs.”  The instant the words left her mouth, she cringed inside.  Good God.  That came out all wrong!

Humor curved his lips, but his eyes smoldered.  Did his thoughts mirror hers?  He took a step closer, and his masculine aura invaded her personal space.  “Tell me more.”



2 comments:

Judith Sterling said...

Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog, Marie. Have a lovely weekend! :)

Marie said...

So glad to have you today, Linda. Enjoy your weekend.