I am continuing with a backtrack excerpt from last month---then the new excerpt, and the beginning of Chapter Three:

“’Tis the reason why we were kidnapped?” Earl or no earl, wrath burned through her, heating the last coils of her control. Squirming in his grasp, she twisted around to glare at him. “Without delay? Because of your selfish whims, Yolanda and I did not finish placing stones around our mother’s deathbed. Because of your arrogance, we were unable to destroy our mother’s possessions, a grievous offence for all Romany. And because of you . . . ” she glowered into his exasperated eyes, “ . . . we were unable to complete our mother’s burial ritual.” Her breath hitched, stinging her lungs.

The earl can kill me for speaking to him this way.

She tossed her hair back. Te les o beng. Devil curse him. Let him try.

His muscles went rigid against her. He scowled at Sir Geoffrey, then back at her. “I am unaware of your gypsy ways. I am sorry about your mother’s death, but you are required here.”
“Because your needs are more important than ours?” Reckless, the challenge raised her spirit. “Because your life is more important than her death?”

With a regretful sigh, he dropped his hands.

The realization he had little sympathy for her mother’s death snapped Valentina’s mind into action. Men like the earl were only interested in themselves. But this heartless noble would pay for his callousness. Ripping her mother’s double-edged dagger from the cord along her gown’s inside seam, Valentina tore off the sheath and raised the weapon.

In the shocked hush, the earl deflected her attack and held her wrist at arm’s length. “Give the dagger to me.” His eyes smoldered with silver-edged fury. “Step back. I need no assistance,” he commanded his men, who surrounded them. “Don’t move until I say.”

Valentina grabbed the dagger with her other hand, and sliced the jagged blade through his shirt, drawing blood, sinking into the soft tissue of his flesh.
The sticky warmth spattered over her hands.
“I avenge my mother’s unfinished burial, you bastard!”

Chapter Three

Valentina drew back the dagger to strike at his chest again, only this time she intended to strike much deeper. Her hands would not stop shaking. She wished to maim him, not kill him. She would be hanged for murder if she drove her dagger through his black heart, although he deserved nothing less. Cold sweat broke out on her skin, dampening her gown.
“For God’s sake, nay!” The earl lunged, grabbed her other wrist with his free hand, and jerked her arms back.

Her loose gown and boned bodice fell from her shoulders, baring the swell of her breasts. She clutched the dagger and refused to let go, refused to glance down. Lewd masculine laughter rang in her ears.

Her cheeks burned. Her legs defied her.
Spirits help her, she should never have hesitated.

“Surely you did not think I would allow you to assault me a second time?” The earl’s voice lowered to a ragged whisper. He towered over her. “Drop the blade. Now.” His hard thighs intruded on hers.

She breathed in quick, thin gasps of air. His threat didn’t scare her. She wouldn’t flinch. She met his stare and gripped the hilt of the dagger. Higher. Defying him. Assessing his reaction. A sting shot up her arms as he pressed them backward, but she refused to release the blade.


  1. Mary Marvella // September 22, 2008 at 5:14 PM  

    Hot! Reminds me of the old historical romances. Go Joanne!

  2. Mary Ricksen // September 22, 2008 at 6:25 PM  

    You drew me in with that excerpt!
    Sounds like my kind of story.

  3. Anonymous // September 22, 2008 at 7:30 PM  

    Great excerpt! I am intrigued and want to read more!

    Scarlet Pumpernickel
    who should not be reading historical because it changes her voice, just ask MM

  4. Joanne // September 23, 2008 at 8:54 AM  

    Thanks, everyone. You're right, Mary. My writing has been described as more of the old historical romances.