Tag: Kris Kennedy

#DFRAT Excerpt: Claiming Her by Kris Kennedy

Posted June 30, 2012 by Holly in Features, Promotions | 1 Comment


Excited for Kris Kennedy’s CLAIMING HER? Then you’re in luck because we have an excerpt just for you lovely readers.

Enjoy!

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Ireland, 1588

Aodh Mac Con Rardove has just returned to Ireland after decades away and taken over the castle the Queen of England refused to give him. He intends to conquer everything: the castle, the lands, the lady. The lady, of course, has no intention of being conquered so easily.
But then, things don’t always turned out as planned….

The paleness in her cheeks went even paler. He’d shocked her. The realization caused a small, strange tinge of disappointment, that a woman who’d single-handedly held a castle beyond the Pale with ten men would be shocked by such a thing. It seemed somehow . . . diminishing. But then, Aodh had a taste for rebellion today, and nothing but more of the same would serve.

Still.

A movement at the far end of the hall caught his eye. One of his men, Turlough, poked his head though a door. Good. They’d made it through to the northern side, which meant they had secured the castle. Rardove was his.

And so, where was the hot satisfaction of conquest? The rush of triumph? Where was…everything?

Lying at the bottom of the pit that had marked his life for too many years, no doubt. Intrigues, battles, courtly maneuvers, it was all same: nothing. Apparently even coups of English castles did not rise to the level of interest.

He exchanged a brief nod with Turlough, then turned back to Katarina.

“My lady, if you will—”

All he saw was a blur of green silk, then she punched him in the face.

The impact, hard and square, landed directly on his jaw.

Caught utterly unawares—as he’d never been before, never, not even when his father told him he was leaving Ireland —Aodh reeled sideways. It was enough for her to launch herself forward and slam her body into his, directly into his ribs, so hard and fast he stumbled backwards and hit the ground, she on top.

She jammed one knee hard into his groin and bent one of his fingers back almost to breaking, while her other hand—so sinuous and slender it was all but ungrippable—snaked in between their writing bodies and began tugging his accursed blade out of its sheath.

Disappointed, indeed.

With a lunge, he pushed up off the ground, lifting her with him, and backed her up against the wall hard. Predictably—how well he knew her, to already be predicting things—she wrestled like a wildcat. Whirling hair, arms, legs. He finally simply pinned her to the wall, her feet dangling in the air, their faces pressed together, cheek to cheek, hers pinned against the stone wall, until he stilled everything that was writhing and flailing and kicking on her curving, rampant, berserker body.

With one, he caught hold of the feminine hand snaked around the hilt of his sword and gripped her wrist so hard she cried out.

She also, wisely, froze.

He reached overtop with his other hand and wrenched the sword free with a vicious twist, then tossed it onto the floor and kicked it away. Fire burned in his veins, the deep-burning coals of a fire relit, urging him to smash and destroy. He inhaled slowly, forcing himself to calm. They stood like this for a moment, her pinned between him and the wall. He supposed she could kick his shins, but she’d impact against his greaves, and it would hurt her far more than him.

She seemed to agree. At least she didn’t move.

He pulled his head back and looked down. Their eyes met, inches apart. Pale and beautiful, with slim, dark eyebrows, arcing over what appeared to be intelligent brown eyes. A shocking discovery, considering her recent actions.

“If you were a man, I would kill you right now,” he said quietly.

She shifted the only thing he did not have restrained, her left hand, and lifted it and laid the cold edge of a blade against the side of his throat.

“If I were a man, sir, you would already be dead,” she said quietly.

Goddammit.

It was his dagger, one of many strapped to his body. In the melée, she’d succeeded in getting it free. In the distraction of him staring into her eyes, trying to ascertain if she was mad, she’d succeeded in getting it to his throat.

A rush went through him, hot and intense. “You are left-handed,” he observed grimly.

“When necessary.”

A humming filled his stomach, deep and low. He’d come for battle, and that this slim audacious woman had given it to him, while undefended, in a clearly hopeless situation, outmatched, outflanked, overpowered, bespoke great . . . boldness. Of a kind he’d not seen in a long time. Either that, or idiocy.

She did not appear idiotic. Of course, she’d not appeared reckless either, when he met her in the bailey. She’d seemed calm, clever, pale and beautiful. Then she’d simply launched her body into his and turned into a bold, roaring-mad hellcat.

Perhaps everything in her was latent. Who knew, idiocy might rear its head at any moment. Or more boldness.

Although it was difficult to see how she could become more bold than she was at the moment.

Small wisps of dark hair brushed beside her mouth. Aodh knew battle and fights; he’d expect her lips to be dry with fear, parched and tight. But they were wet. Parted and wet, her chin up, her cheeks a sort of hot red. Her slim body was pressed hard up against his, female curves barely detectable against his armor. But the vivid hot flush of her was clear. Her mad, energizing fearless self was the clearest thing on his mind.

That and the blade pressed against his throat.

“Are you going to use it, lass?” he said.

She blew out a swift, hot breath. “I am using it.”

He gave a low laugh. It had been a long time since he’d felt this hum inside him, this energized, this vital. He leaned closer, until his mouth was an inch away from hers, until he felt the honed edge of his exceptionally sharp blade indent the flesh of his neck.

“Do it,” he whispered. “Or drop it. Now.”

Thanks to Kris Kennedy for sharing this excerpt with our readers. CLAIMING HER will be available for purchase this summer at all e-book retailers. Make sure you mark your calendars!

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#DFRAT Guest Author (+ a Giveaway): Kris Kennedy

Posted June 30, 2012 by Holly in Features, Giveaways, Promotions | 13 Comments


Please join us in welcoming Kris Kennedy to the blog today. Kris Kennedy has a few print books under her belt with THE CONQUEROR, THE IRISH WARRIOR, DEFIANT and DECEPTION (due out this summer) but she also has a self-published book called CLAIMING HER coming out so seriously, mark your calendars!

Kris is stopping by today to share her self publishing story. Take it away Kris…

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I got my start with New York publishing. I have three New York-published books out (and a fourth coming this summer), and . . . my first self-published story is also coming out this summer, a hot historical romance novella.

Used to be, people asked why on earth would you do that? I don’t think a lot a people are asking that anymore. 🙂 For me, personally, I’m doing digital-first self-publishing for . . . well, a lot of reasons. And only one of them is a simple black-and-white reason.

As far as the control, yes, there’s more control in self-publishing. There’s also more work. A lot more work, and it all takes away from writing.

Self-publishing may mean more money, but then again, it may not. New York published or self-published, I still write in niche-y pockets of the romance world (medieval, Elizabethan), and there’s no more guarantee with self-publishing than with New York publishing. And all the start-up money required (formatting, editing, covers) is out-of-pocket.

Some people have horror stories about traditional publishing process. I don’t. I’ve had the stressors that come with working with deadlines, but that’s not a horror story (although it sometimes felt like it). I’ve worked really well with my editors, respected them a lot, and still do. Same for my agent.

For me, at the heart of my decision to self-publish ebooks is a story. Many stories.

Stories a New York or even a small press publisher probably couldn’t do anything with.

Maybe it’s a ‘niche’ story, one that would never justify a large enough print run to make it into your local bookstore. Maybe it’s an off-brand works, stories that break out of a writer’s own box. Maybe it’s a highly experimental story, one that no one probably should lay money down on, no one except the person who already believes in it—the author. Sometimes they’re shorter stories, or longer ones, or sexier ones, or off-beat ones. The ones that just don’t work in a traditional run through a bookstore. The ones no one else can figure out what to do with.

That’s why I’m going to be self-publishing digital-first stories. My first, Claiming Her: A Scorching Historical Romance Novella is shorter, hotter, and set in Elizabethan Ireland. Truly, I don’t think a traditional publisher would be able to do anything with this in bookstores.

But readers and I? Yeah, I think we can do something with it. 🙂

http://kriskennedy.net

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Huge thanks go out to Kris Kennedy for stopping by Book Binge to share her self publishing story with us. CLAIMING HER is set to release this summer so I hope you’re all ready for that!

Want to win a copy? Leave a comment for a chance!

-Rowena & Holly

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Giveaway: Defiant by Kris Kennedy

Posted June 2, 2011 by Holly in Giveaways | 21 Comments


Book Cover

England, 1215, the eve of Magna Carta

Jamie Lost is the king’s most renowned commander, an audacious knight ordered to kidnap an exiled priest before rebel forces close in. The mission is simple–until he comes up against a mysterious woman on a mission, a thief who will first steal his quarry and then his heart.

Eva is also seeking Father Peter, but she intends to protect him from a secret that endangers his life, even if it costs her own. She is well aware danger lies everywhere, especially in the knight showing too much interest in her activities. But deep inside, Eva knows the danger lies not in Jamie, but in her, in the desire he awakens in her body and her heart.

When a mysterious band of armed mercenaries upends both their plans and abducts the priest, Jamie and Eva must form an uneasy alliance, and as civil war unfolds around them, they embark on an epic journey that betrays the truth about their identities, their unexpected loyalties, and the dangerous attraction that could seal their fates forever.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kris Kennedy. Her books remind me of epic, lovely old school romances, without all the unnecessary drama. Her latest release, Defiant, is now available from Pocket books. Thanks to Kris’ generostiy, we have 2 copies available to giveaway.

Leave a comment on this post telling us why you want to read Defiant, and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends Monday, June 6 at 11:59pm. Please note: You must include a valid email address with your comment to be eligible to win.

This book is available from Pocket. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Excerpt: The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy

Posted June 2, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 8 Comments

The Irish Warrior Check out an excerpt from The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy, available now from Zebra.

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…They came to the edge of the king’s highway and ducked low.  A breeze rustled the reeds, making a low, seething sound, like a hiss through teeth.  They stretched on their bellies side by side, peering at the puddle-strewn, rock-encrusted, muddy path that marked the main passageway from the north to Dublin.

            “‘King’s highway’ has a rather overstated magnificence,” Senna murmured.

            “So does most of what the English say and do.”  Finian pushed forward on his elbows.  “The way is clear. We’re off.”

            They hurried across, staying low.  The highway might only be wide enough for two wagons to pass, but it ran straight as an arrowshot in either direction.  It would be easy for them to see anyone coming.  And easy for anyone to see them.   There was also a ridge a few yards back that lined the far side. Anyone could be up there waiting with arrows.  But apparently, they had no choice. They had to cross the highway.

            “Why is that?” she asked when they were safely across and striding up a steep, narrow, almost imperceptible path that Finian had found on the hill beyond.  “Why did we have to cross the highway?  Could we not have kept to the east side and headed south for Dublin?  This is the way to Dublin, is it not?” she added after a long moment of silence ensued.

            He still didn’t reply.  The hill was long and steep, and as climbing was beginning to take all Senna’s strength, she was just as glad to have the conversation halt momentarily.

            They climbed swiftly, ducking under sloping tree branches that dripped with moss maybe a hundred years old.  Silvery light slanted through their feathery veined fingers, making the world glow with greenish-grey light.  It smelled fresh.

            They finally crested the ridge.  The path, while still only wide enough for one at a time, at least leveled out.  Senna stopped and bent over, breathing hard.   Behind her, Finian was breathing slightly heavier than usual.  Very slightly.

            She looked back.  He was mostly a silhouette of power, standing upright, looking down to the road below.  With the moonlight washing over him, his body was cut clear, like something hewn from rock.   Dark hair spilled down to his shoulders.  Impatiently, he raked it behind his ear, revealing the dark outline of a square, stubbly jaw and chin.  She could see the thick hilt of his sword rising up above his left shoulder.

            “Ready, Senna?”

            She straightened and nodded, although another hour of rest would not have been misplaced.  Keeping account ledgers at a copyist’s desk did not tend one towards physical exertion.  Still, she rode and fished at times, and of course had to practice every day with—
      
            “Senna?”

            But being a merchant did not quite prepare one for rabid barons, or raging rivers, or nighttime flights across a foreign frontier.

            It was not often she was faced with a situation she did not have a ready reply for, an answer that could be written in ink, tallied in rows, stamped and scrolled and signed by witnesses who could prove, and ensure, and make sure no one could ever take away—

            Warm fingers crooked under her chin.  “Senna?”   He angled her face to his, his eyes searching.  “Are ye with us?”

            The feel of his fingers, strong and thick, solid and real, funneled some measure of calm back into her.   She nodded.  He nodded along with her and dropped his hand.  Her chin felt cold where his fingers had been.

        “Forward, then, angel.  We’ve far way to go.”

        She started walking.  “To Dublin?  A long way to go to Dublin?   I may be off in my reckoning, Finian, but we seem to be headed west, not east and south.”

        “Baile alth Cliath.”

        She paused.  “West.”

Baile alth Cliath.   Keep walking.”

“Is that intended to mean something?” she asked after a moment of trying to ascertain his meaning.  Which she could never do, because firstly, she was being baited—growing up with a brother provided sufficient experience to know when she was being toyed with—and secondly, Finian was speaking Irish.  The low-spoken syllables were strange and evocative, as if he were chanting an incantation, murmuring spells.

 “It means Dublin,” he said shortly.

“Bally cle, cle—.”  She sailed an irritated glance over her shoulder, even though she knew better than to expose a weakness such as irritation. Again, the experience born of being a sister, even if she was the eldest.  “Why not just call it by its name?”

 “’Tis its name.  Dublin is what the Northmen called it.  And now the Saxons gall.  But her name is Baile alth Cliath.”

Not Vikings, not English foreigners. Irish.

She glanced over her shoulder again. He didn’t appear angry, or any less imperturbable than he had thus far. He was walking as steadily as ever, obviously adjusting himself to her pace, because again, he barely appeared to be exerting effort.  His eyes caught hers.

She faced forward.  “Oh.”

The trees to their left opened slightly. She could see the road a few hundred yards below them, winding its silvery outline under treetops, hugging the hillside.  From out of the silence came his rough-edged murmur,  “And, nay.”

The trail had narrowed to a rather alarming degree, so Senna didn’t bother to look around this time.   “Nay, what?” she asked, as calmly as possible.

“Yer query, Senna.  Nay, this isn’t the way to Dublin.”

She stopped so short he walked up the back of her heels.  “What?” she whisper-shouted, trying to turn around on the sinuous path.  “You promised to take me to Dublin.”

“I ne’er promised such a thing, lass.”

    She glared over her shoulder.  His chest was bare inches from hers, and she contemplated elbowing him over the side of the ridge.  “You did!”

    “I did not.  Becalm, yourself,” he added quietly.

    She glared.  She was practically crackling with fury.  She was also being quiet.  Angrily quiet.  Vehemently quiet.

    “I will be calm when you—”

    His hand snaked out and closed over her mouth, silencing her.

    “Riders.”  His gruff voice was a notch above silence.

    And like that, Senna’s orientation shifted. No longer was she aware of her leaden, weary limbs, nor her desperate situation, nor the fear that had been marking its way up the back of her neck like the tip of a knife.   She wasn’t even terribly aware of the riders on the highway, some forty feet below.  She was aware, only, of him.

    His fingers gently held over her lips. The touch of his wide wrist against the side of her neck.  His thighs just behind hers, pressing heat onto the back of her legs.

    She drew a steadying breath and inhaled the scent of him, the river and the wild, stones and pine.

    “Fimiam?” she puffed against his hand.

    “Can ye not hush for a single second?” he whispered back, but his words were made of breath, his jaw an outline of heat beside her ear.  Her back and buttocks were warm from him. She could hear the men on the road far below, muffled voices and shuffling hooves.

    Riders?  What of it?  What did this man taste like?

    She trembled, from fear, surely, but more, from the power of this new, reckless desire.  The root of her mother’s evil.  Reined in for years, bound by books and ledgers, now being released?  While she was on the run from a madman? The onrushing strength of it shocked her.

    He must have felt her trembling.  The hand covering her mouth slid to her cheek, and his thumb stroked gently by her jaw.   His other hand skimmed up her back and rested warmly between her shoulder blades.  She shivered, not whatsoever from fear.

    “Nothing to fear, lass,” he murmured.  “’Tis but a messenger and his man.  They are not seeking us.  All we have to do is let them pass.”

    All I have to do is taste you.

   Senna jerked at the thought.  No, not a thought, an urge, rising out of something so deep it pulsed with each heartbeat.

    He put his mouth by her ear.  “Easy, now, Senna.”  His thumb stroked her jaw as if he were gentling a wild thing. His sculpted body was hot behind hers.  “Be easy.”

    “Stop touching me,” she pleaded in a whisper.

    His thumb stopped moving.  “What?”

    “Kiss me.”

    The rest of him went completely still.

    Oh, please Lord, deliver me from this. But it was too late.  His body was too hot.  She was too far beyond the Pale.  

    “What did ye say?” he asked in a low, masculine rumble…

© 2010 The Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy, Kensington Publishing

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Leave a comment on this post – or any of the other Kris Kennedy posts for today – and you’ll be entered to win a print copy of The Irish Warrior. If you’d prefer a digital copy, the book is currently available free for the nook and Kindle!

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Guest Author: Kris Kennedy – Story Morph

Posted June 2, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 21 Comments

The Irish WarriorWe’d like to welcome Kris Kennedy back to Book Binge. Today she’s here to talk about how The Irish Warrior morphed into the story you see on shelves today.

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STORY MORPH

I know for me, when I read a story I love, I can’t imagine it happening  any other way.   Characters have ‘issues,’ they get faced with challenges, they battle back, grow and learn, and I imagine that is how it must always have been.  This is The Story.

But of course, authors revise those stories.  Sometimes dramatically so.   Story Morph is the way of writing.

Every author has his or her own method.  Sometimes their writing style is a revise-as-you-go thing.  Sometimes it’s a first/second/third draft approach.   Sometimes it’s more of an, oh, I don’t know . . . Revise-as-you-go-then-rip-it-to-shreds-add-an-entirely-new-external-plot-and-be-sure-to-change-the characters-as-you-go-and-for-sure-change-the-Black-Moment-but-keep-those-2-scenes-from-the-original-manuscript way of doing things.

That last method?  Yeah, that’s mine.

To wit: The Irish Warrior.

Originally I wrote the story as a labor of nothing but love (i.e. no skills, no knowledge, no craftsmanship.)   Here’s how it morphed . . .

I’d worked on the story for years, on and off, pre-contract.  Then I had a baby, went insane, came back, and started writing again.  In 2008 it won Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) 2008 Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical Romance, and my editor at Kensington suggested we use it as the second book in our contract.  I happily said yes.  Then I pulled it out and looked at it again.

Uh, no.

It was not enough.  It was . . . okay.  Who buys ‘okay’?   Not me.   Not more than once, anyhow.   So I knew had to up the external stakes.  I needed a thicker plot, a bigger plot.  Bigger goals for the characters, bigger obstacles.  In short, I needed a ‘bigger’ story.  I needed a better one.

11 months later, I finished.  Yesterday, it landed on the shelves.

In the Golden Heart version of The Irish Warrior, the heroine was much more the trope-ish ‘fiesty’ heroine, not the smart, savvy– if repressed– merchant she is now.  In the current version, Senna is one smart cookie and takes action because she must.   She gets backed into a corner and figures a way out using her brains and wits.   It involves a roughish rebel warrior chained in the prisons, a little bit of alcohol, and one very long trek across medieval Ireland, unleashing a chain of irrevocable events that changes everyone’s world.

The hero helps.  🙂

Even in original versions, Finian was the ‘good alpha’ hero: strong, confident, in charge, willing to take on the most dangerous, risky jobs for his king, a warrior of the first order, en route to  even greater things.   But he’s also a charmer, with a sense of humor.  He makes Senna laugh a lot.  He also makes her pant a lot.  But at his core, he’s torn.

Originally, he was less torn.  More complete.  Less complicated.  Less interesting.  Used to be, he had an uncomfortable choice to make.  Now, in his dark moment of decision, he’s going to have to turn his back on everything he’s ever wanted, if he wants Senna.

And then, there’s the plot morph.  Originally, there was little more than a woman fleeing her evil betrothed, a man who wanted more land and was perfectly willing to have it be Irish land.

Now there’s an intertwined external plot involving dyes.  Sound boring?  Hopefully it’s not, because this is not just any old dye.  These dyes can rock people’s world.  Literally.

In the ancient world, dyes were the province of kings and counts.  Color mattered.  It connoted royalty, power, prestige, and resources.   The most valued dyes were precious, hard to make, and under royal protection.  The most precious and coveted dye was Tyrian purple, the royal purple, made from a snail Murex Brandaris.

In Irish, the dyes are made from mollusks, but they are still coveted: the secret of the Wishmé dyes.  Their color and desirability are modeled on the Tyrian Murex, but these dyes are not only beautiful, they’re lethal.  They have militaristic applications. They’re beautiful weapons.

And out there, somewhere, is not only the codebook–the forgotten recipe for creating the deadly dyes–but the one person who can read it: a dye-witch.

So the hunt is on.  It involves kings and barons and spies and warriors.  It crosses borders, involves Irish sovereignty and Scottish independence.  It presses the characters to face their worst fears and in the process, become something better than they’d imagined possible.

So, when you read The Irish Warrior,  you can know it has been though many incarnations, and has truly been a labor of love.  And hopefully, when you’re done reading, if I’ve done my job, it will have done its job: create a feeling, deep inside, that says, Yes, I believe.  It really can be this way.

Kris writes sexy, adventure-filled medieval romances for Kensington and Pocket Books.  THE IRISH WARRIOR released June 1.    Her debut book, THE CONQUEROR, came out May ‘09.  She loves hearing from readers–stop by her website, sign up for her newsletter, and say Hi!  http://www.kriskennedy.net/

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We have two additional print copies of The Irish Warrior to giveaway. If you’d like the chance to win one, leave a comment on this post with a question for Kris, or, if you don’t have one, welcoming her and we’ll enter you to win. Contest ends Tuesday June 8, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. If you’d prefer a digital copy, the book is currently available free for the nook and Kindle!

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