I hope everyone had a great Christmas. Now it is time to look forward to the New Year. To start it off I have just released, Knight of Swords in a full length book with a new cover. This is very much how I envisaged Nathan, The Knight of Swords when I wrote it so I hope you like it as well. However, please note you can still buy it in bite size chunks on Amazon if you would prefer to read it that way.
The book is more than just another vampire romance with the story taken mainly from Nathan's point of view. He is leader of an army of Victorian Vampire Knights who have discover a new Queen with immense power for their race has been provided for in the form of Juliet. It is their duty to protect their Queen from a vast array of human and demon enemies, all of whom are desperate to possess her power. Nathan must also protect his Queen and mate from some of the knights who dare to challenge him to claim Juliet and his title. There are sword fights, some shapeshifting and many other daring heroics. The romance in the story is sweet and there is no spanking. It is more likely to suit anyone who loves reading Young Adult and New Adult.
I had a lot of fun writing this story which is part of a trilogy and I am proud of it. I really hope you like it. Check out the blurb and an excerpt below.
Finally, I am currently working on the first tale for the new Chateau series and the next instalment of His Submissive Wife. Hopefully at least one of them will be out by the end of the week.
Knight of Swords
Lord Nathan Valancourt is handsome, stinking rich and only twenty-one. His life is an endless stream of parties with London’s social elite, young women and leisure.
He has never believed in the supernatural but a vampire begins to haunt his dreams, forcing him to watch the real life murders of his female conquests. Horrified, Nathan decides to change his beliefs and vows to mend his frivolous ways.
When the vampire turns his attention to Lord Valancourt’s beautiful eighteen year old ward, Juliet, whom he has been appointed to be guardian to in his dying uncle’s place, he is fiercely determined to protect her.
As Nathan and Juliet battle the monster they gradually realize they share a strong psychic connection. This close bond triggers a surprise discovery about their true heritage.
Armed with a myriad of psychic gifts and other supernatural powers, victory seems assured but success always comes at a price. Will the young lovers be able to bond and cement their relationship or will one of them have to pay the ultimate price to protect the other?
Knight of Swords Excerpt
Juliet entered my thoughts immediately. For one moment I wondered if the events of last night had all been a dream. But I had known after the first murder that all I saw with the clergyman did indeed occur. There was always evidence in the evening newspapers of the previous night’s events. Somehow, I had definitely been there. Only this time, so had Juliet.
Breakfast was the last thing I wanted, though it was a hearty one; two eggs, bacon, bread and butter, my usual fare. I had no appetite for it, but the coffee, with its strong bitter taste and pungent rousing odour, was more than welcome.
‘Sleeping alone again, my Lord,’ Baxter mocked sarcastically.
I eyed him with an equal measure of mock contempt as he handed me The Times. I seldom read newspapers. They usually bored me with their dark, tiresome headlines depicting strife and misery in the world. But Baxter still brought The Times every morning with my breakfast. I believe he thought it his duty to reform my frivolous life and encourage me to widen my narrow view of the world, perhaps even care a little more for the poor souls in it. However, I had been taking more note of late since the murders began consuming my waking thoughts and dominating every front page as they did again that morning.
The lead column was still discussing the previous murder of Lady Wilde. It depicted a London that quaked with fear under the spell of the vampire killer. A great amount of discussion had been expended on the gruesome details of the murders and the theory that the killer was indeed a supernatural being. They had also given several suggestions as to who his next victim might be. I felt a stab in my heart when I saw Sophie Wooton’s name upon the list. Fear renewed its strength within me. I had to find Juliet.
Baxter returned, his pallor deathly white. His grey whiskers were upright and bristling with agitation. ‘Your lordship, you must come quickly. Lord Leggatt has collapsed. I am afraid his illness has taken a turn for the worse. The doctor has been sent for. Lord Leggatt insists he must see you.’
I stared at Baxter. The man I called my uncle, the man who had taken me into his home after the death of my parents, was now dying. I had known it would be soon, but I had banished the morbid thought from my mind. Lord Leggatt was a decorated officer from the Crimean war, a fighter who would live forever. I’d dared not believe he could succumb to the same premature death my mother and father endured. My thoughts were those of a child, perhaps selfish. I would have no family when Lord Leggatt died. I could not bear the pain of loneliness again.
I dressed quickly, making every effort to ensure that my attire was immaculate and formal, worthy of my uncle’s reception. My uncle hated sloppy, uneducated dressing and demanded attention to the finest detail in appearance. I was not about to let him down now. Lord Leggatt had also lost his family at a young age, and his wife had died of tuberculosis not six years ago. I was the only close surrogate kin he had left.
With the assistance of my valet, I dressed in a dark grey, paisley silk vest with a black satin back. I seldom wore vests of bright colours. I did not care for bold reds, greens, or otherwise, finding them garish and vulgar. On occasion, such as for some festivity, my valet could persuade me to wear a vest of cream or light blue, but this morning was no such occasion. My neck tie was also black silk, and I wore it thinly tied, complimenting the formal high collar of my shirt. My latest clothing purchase from my Saville Row tailor, a new double breasted, black frock coat, finished my outfit. You might say my attire was fit for attendance at a funeral. I checked my appearance in the mirror, running my fingers through the dark chestnut hair that sat full and neat to the nape of my neck. My face looked pleasingly smooth from shaving. Just like Lord Leggatt, I would not tolerate an untidy complexion unless there was cause for it.
I felt a slight tremble in my body as I approached my uncle’s door. I did not wish to lose him. It was with a heavy heart that I entered the room. The drapes were closed, blocking out the sunlight and creating a dreary sombre feel to the room, as though the air of impending death was not enough of an oppression. My uncle’s lawyer stood by the bed next to his faithful servants. Two old friends, Lord and Lady Briggs, who had been visiting him that morning when he collapsed, were also present. My uncle hoarsely called for me. I dutifully approached the bed as Lady Briggs began to cry. His face was thin and tinged with greyness as he lay in bed whilst Maud, our housekeeper, administered a drink of brandy to his lips.
His expression was weary, just like the rest of his ailing body. He was nothing of the robust, large-figured man he’d once been. Tears painfully stung the backs of my eyes, but I held them at bay, careful not to show my weakness. He bade me to sit next to him on the bed, and I obeyed without question. He reached for my hand, grasping on to it.
‘Nathan, my boy . . . I need you to do something. I haven’t got long.’ He could hardly summon the breath to speak to me. I leaned in closer to hear his whispered voice.
‘Anything, uncle. I am completely at your command, as I have always been.’
‘I need you to bring her here. I need you . . . to care for her Nathan.’
‘Who, sir? Who do you wish me to bring?’
‘I promised . . . I promised him, Nathan. I said I would care for her. He saved my life in the war.’ He took a shallow broken breath before being consumed by a coughing fit. I squeezed his hand and waited patiently for him to compose himself. ‘Bring the child here to live with you, Nathan.’ He weakly patted my hand. ‘I want . . . I want you to be her guardian in my place. It’s time for you to take responsibility. She . . . needs you.’ Another coughing fit overtook him before he was able to speak again in a hoarse whisper. ‘They are hurting her, Nathan. Promise you will go to her . . . promise, Nathan.’
‘I promise uncle. I promise, please don’t agitate yourself.’
I wanted more information, but he was out of breath. Mr Thomas Paine, Lord Leggatt’s lawyer, addressed me, ‘As you know, Lord Cameron died three weeks ago. He appointed your uncle as guardian of his sister’s child, Constance. She is to inherit the bulk of Lord Cameron’s fortune and shipping business above his own two sons and daughter. Lord Leggatt is to hold her inheritance in trust until Constance attains the age of twenty-one. Should he . . . die . . . he has the authority to appoint another guardian. His lordship has chosen you.’
Paine finished his short speech by pushing his horn rimmed spectacles up his pointed nose. A sense of wry disbelief echoed in his tone, making me frown in his direction. The man reminded me of a ferret, with his beady, black eyes and small stature. He clearly disapproved of my uncle’s choice of new guardian. I couldn’t blame him. Even in my own eyes I was unsuitable. I had never before taken any responsibility in my decadent, self-serving life, and by now, I did not believe myself of ever having the stomach for it. I started to make my doubts known to my uncle.
‘Uncle, I do not believe I am suited to care for a child. I am flattered, but . . .’
‘Nathan, it is time for you . . . to take responsibility. Constance will be the saving of you . . . and she is hardly a child.’ He started to cough. Once more he seemed to find it incredibly difficult to breathe. ‘Lord Cameron’s sis . . . sister-in-law . . . has lived with the children since the death of his wife. She resents Constance. Her love . . . is only for her sister’s children. They are angry Constance has inherited and . . . the family are ill using her. I won’t allow it.’
Paine spoke up again, elaborating on Lord Leggatt’s concern. ‘The eldest son has engaged lawyers to contest the will, and he has made Constance a prisoner in the home. I believe he, aided by his brother and sister, is denying Constance food and abusing her. The last time I went to check on her on behalf of Lord Leggatt, I was run off the premises. The eldest son is a violent man and rules the house with a rod of iron. Your uncle had initially thought it prudent to leave Constance at the Cameron family seat in Hertfordshire because of the recent murders of society women in London. However, when I informed him of the state in which I had found his ward, he resolved to act. We arranged to go and retrieve Constance this very day and bring her home to live at Lord Leggatt’s residence.’
I had not known that my uncle had been made a guardian or about his plans, but then I hadn’t asked. Recently, I was seldom around to make conversation with him. I felt regret and remorse that time was nearly up for such niceties I had taken for granted.
‘I need you to go Nathan before . . . before they starve her to death. If she dies the eldest son will inherit. He will squander the money on vice. He will get away with murder.’
Murder. The word conjured up fleeting memories of my terrible visions. My uncle had indeed been wise to insist his ward resided in the countryside. London was a dangerous place for a woman, as I knew only too well. However, it seemed her current situation was just as perilous.
‘I will uncle, but I don’t want to leave you . . .’
His voice unexpectedly rose very sharply with strength, making me jump to silence. ‘Nathan, do not disobey me.’
I nodded gravely and slowly stood, accepting my duty. ‘Of course, sir. Forgive me, please. I will go at once.’ I leaned forward and bent to kiss his forehead. ‘I will bring the lady to you, and I promise I will take care of her.’ I gave him a plea from my heart, ‘Please, uncle, wait for me.’
He nodded, but a great coughing fit overwhelmed him, preventing further discourse. I glanced quickly at Mr Paine and gestured for him to follow me from the room. Baxter, as quick as ever, had gone on ahead of me, instructing one of the maids to retrieve my hat and sending the footman for my uncle’s carriage.
I didn’t even know to where we were headed. Thankfully, as we made our way outside, Paine provided me with all of the details of the arrangements of our journey by train from Euston station into Hertfordshire. Finding Juliet would have to wait until I had fulfilled my duty to my uncle, however much it pained me. Given I had recently made it my mission to avoid women for the sake of their safety, there seemed some irony in the fact that I was now charged with the rescue of both Constance and Juliet.
The sun was vainly attempting to burn off residual morning mist that hung low to the frozen ground between bare winter trees when we disembarked the train at Berkhamsted. The sky was greying with clouds that threatened to vanquish the attempt and deliver snow in its place. A waiting carriage raced us through the heart of the Ashridge estate and out towards Eldridge Hall. Dead, brown leaves glistened with frost on the muddy floor of the surrounding woodland. The wheel ruts on the narrow, winding road were filled with ice, making our short journey a slippery, hazardous affair. I glanced out as we emerged from the wood and approached the Hall from the west side.
Eldridge Hall was a vast, oversized, grandiose building. It was not unlike my own family home, Keeley Park. I rarely visited home. To do so only caused me heartache. I was the only member of my family left and it brought back memories of happier times in my childhood with my parents that I could never relive. I could hide from my sadness in London more than adequately. An endless string of social engagements, parties, and other leisure pursuits had kept me entertained since leaving university a year and a half earlier. I had no need to work, but I confess I rather wished I did. My social life was becoming tiresome. There was no substance or meaning to my playful, frivolous life, and the people I shared it with were becoming a bore. I longed for something more, but what that something should be, I could not have told you. At least not until I encountered Juliet in the previous night’s disturbing vision.
The carriage turned up a long drive that ran through an opening in the high wall surrounding the castle-shaped home. The structure appeared dark and foreboding even in the daylight. Its asylum-like appearance filled me with unease. As we approached, I felt a strange sense of presence I had not expected, as though something about the building was familiar. I was eager for some air and made sure I was the first to step from the carriage when it came to a stop outside the main portico.
The moment I stepped onto the gravel path, I felt Juliet’s consciousness wrap around my own. Her intoxicating scent lingered around me. Confused, I whirled around searching her out. Had she simply followed me in a vision? Perhaps she resided near the house? Either way, I felt elated, comforted that she was close. I could not wait to see her.
Instinctively, I reached out with my mind, calling her name. It felt strange to attempt contact with another in such a fashion, and yet, natural. But I was met with silence, distrust, and fear. I refused to allow it to deter my persistence. My stubbornness proved to be an advantage, for finally, she answered me.
‘Go home. It isn’t safe for you here.’
I smiled to myself as I searched her mind, attempting to find out where she was hiding, marvelling at how I found it so easy a task. I ignored her rebuke and probed the reason for her presence at the house of my ward. A suspicion settled in my mind. I found the answer quickly, and with some startled amusement. ‘You are Constance Gaudain?’
She was indignant. ‘Don’t call me that. My name is Juliet Gaudain. Juliet is my middle name and the one I prefer to be acknowledged.’ I felt her reach into my own mind. I made no attempt to hide my thoughts, especially my resolve to take her from the house. ‘Now go please . . . wait, you are to be my guardian? This can’t be. You don’t know what you are getting in to. Please go . . . I beg you . . .’
‘I have no intention of going anywhere without you,’ I told her firmly, looking up at the windows trying to work out in which room she was being held. I tried to enquire as to her location, but she shrank back, hiding the answer from me. Once more, she begged me to leave before I was hurt.
Before I could continue our silent conversation, the housekeeper came bustling out of the house. Juliet retreated from my mind. The feeling of loss was immediate and strangely, almost painful. I quickly composed myself after feeling a frown settle across my brow and peered at the housekeeper. She was a fearfully haughty looking old woman. I gave her a courteous but sharp greeting. I had been fully briefed on what to expect from all members of the household, high and low, and wished to quickly convey that I would not tolerate any evasive behaviour. Especially now I knew my ward was Juliet.
‘Good morning, I wish to see Lady Juliet Gaudain.’
The woman frowned. ‘I am sorry, sir, but Lady Gaudain is not at home today. If you leave your card . . . ’
‘Nonsense, I know she is here. I am her new guardian and I insist that she is brought to me now.’ I made my way past the woman as she flustered around me trying to prevent admittance into the house.
‘Please, I have been given strict orders not to . . .’
I removed my hat and gloves and handed them to the footman who had appeared. I folded my hands behind my back. It was a habit when I wished to make a stern point. I’d learnt it from Lord Leggatt as a child.
‘I suggest you bring the master of the house whilst you are fetching Juliet. I wish to speak to him as well,’ I informed her, adopting a superior tone.
‘And what name should I give him, sir?’ the housekeeper asked rudely.
‘Lord Nathan Valancourt. I am here on behalf of Lord Leggatt. Be quick, I detest being kept waiting. I am a man of little patience.’
‘Very good, sir.’ She gestured at the footman, ‘Michael, take Lord Valancourt and Mr Paine into the drawing room.’
The footman gave her a nod and led us across the wide chequered floor of the reception hall towards the drawing room. I couldn’t help but glance up the long staircase wondering once again which room Juliet was locked in. If they refused to bring her to me, I would go and search for her myself.
As we entered the drawing room, I again called out softly to Juliet in my mind. Once more I received no response. Loud, heavy footsteps diverted my attention, someone was approaching the room. A raised, male voice berated the housekeeper who appeared to be following close behind the voice’s owner.
I turned to face the door and stiffened my composure, ready to deal with the abusive man who was about to enter. Mr Paine was clearly anxious, having borne the brunt of Lord Cameron’s anger on his last visit. He stood like a coward behind me. I folded my hands behind my back, eagerly awaiting the tyrant’s entrance.
The two oak doors to the room were flung open in a flamboyant display of rage from the master of the house, Lord William Cameron. I could not help but raise my eyebrows with some amusement and fought to suppress the smile that twitched wickedly at my mouth. The man was perhaps master of the house but clearly not of his emotions.
In my mind I heard an agitated gasp of fear from Juliet. Its loudness startled my senses. She spoke to me, ‘Be careful. He means to do you harm if you do not leave. Please go, I will not have anyone hurt on my behalf. He has shown violence to those who have tried to help me . . . I will face my fate alone, sir.’
I felt impatience gnaw me sharply as William Cameron stalked across the room. I told her firmly, ‘Hush, Juliet. I will not leave you in this house. Do not concern yourself with my safety, I can look after myself.’
William Cameron was an unpleasant brute of a man. He had a swollen, ruddy complexion, and a nose that spoke of too many nights spent heavily consuming liquor at leisure. He appeared much older than his twenty-six years as a result of it.
‘What is the meaning of this intrusion, sir?’ the fellow bellowed at me.
‘I am Lady Gaudain’s new guardian, nominated by Lord Leggatt on his death bed. I intend to take her to London. Please have her brought to me.’
‘That young woman is not leaving this house. I am master here. I do not acknowledge my father’s will, sir. My lawyers are contesting it. As far as I am concerned my cousin is staying here . . .’
‘I beg to differ, sir. I am not leaving this house without her.’
‘How dare you, sir.’
William Cameron moved towards me once more until he stood very close to my face. The smell of stale whisky invaded and assaulted my nostrils. No doubt it was liquor that infused his volatile temper. Despite his reputation, I was unafraid. I had fought and won against more threatening looking men than Lord Cameron when I’d frequented the gin shops of London.
‘But I do dare, sir. I have been informed that you are starving and beating my ward. Holding her prisoner so you can control her inheritance. I will not stand for it. Bring her to me at once, or I will search every room in this house until I find her.’
‘Try, sir, and I will knock you down where you stand.’
I smiled. Well, the man was rather amusing with his inflated ego and sense of personal power. ‘If you wish to fight, Lord Cameron, I would be more than gracious enough to indulge you. I box, sir, do you?’
Compared to my own tall, slim, but muscled stature, William Cameron was a stout man with a heavy swagger. He would have made a formidable opponent, but one I could have handled. I was a good amateur boxer, having won several trophies at school and university. I was ready for anything the bully was able to throw at me. I unfolded my hands as a precaution but remained in my stubborn stance, undeterred by his vulgar closeness.
‘Damn you and your impudence . . .’ Cameron blustered. He raised the back of his hand to strike it down upon my face. I seized my chance, executing a perfect blow to his jaw and then another to his solar plexus when he came back at me in a rage. He fell to the floor clutching his body, the wind knocked from him. I stepped over his prostrate form, quickly making my way out of the room, determined to search the house and waste no further time with William.
Paine followed closely at my heels like a faithful dog. I called to Juliet in my mind once more. But she was silent. I felt her distress like a sharp pain in my temple as I mounted the stairs. As the distance between us closed, our connection became stronger until I could view everything that Juliet saw in front of her. Someone was hurting her – a woman and a man, pulling her hair, dragging her from the small room in the attic where she had been confined. They were under the direction of an older woman whom I presumed to be my ward’s aunt. I could even feel Juliet’s pain coursing through me, spurring me on to her assistance. She was fighting back bravely, but her body was weak through lack of food and sleep. Her actions were in vain. She was close to fainting.Knight of Swords