Welcome to the Weird, the Wild, & the Wicked for the New Year's Eve Blog Hop. This has been a crazy difficult year for a lot of people, so why not send it out with a kick in the ass and some wonderful goodies.
Did you get an ereader of one kind or another for Christmas this year? Or is your current ereader feeling sad and lonely with no new books? You're in luck! My new release came out just before the holidays and it's all about new beginnings. It's called Take the Reins and you can find it everywhere ebooks are sold.
Social change is normal for a senator’s daughter, but affecting gender politics in centaurs wasn’t on Bethany’s agenda.
All Bethany Stanton needed was time away to think. She never imagined a walk with her horse might lead her so far from home. When she steps through a rift between worlds at an old archaeological site, she realizes she has bigger problems than marriage to the man of her nightmares. Like a herd of centaurs with distressing views on gender equality and “mythical” humans.
As part of the Supernatural Anomalies Investigative Field Unit, Major Stephen “Mack” McMacken has seen and done more weird stuff than written in a science fiction novel. When called in to track down a U.S. Senator’s missing daughter, Mack figures it’s more a case of runaway rich girl than supernatural mystery. Until his team finds the portal and he’s nearly torched by a dying phoenix.
In a world ruled by mythical beasts, Mack and Bethany find themselves on trial for endangering the centaur village. With the only escape route they know gone, working together to establish their innocence might prove easier than avoiding seductive Sirens and ravenous native beasts.
And then there’s the not-so-simple matter of finding a way back home…
But this week I have a special treat, a companion story to Take the Reins, entitled A Centaur's Solstice Wish, a sweet M/M romance about two soldiers wishing for their hearts' desires. Good thing the Goddess is listening, yes?
Ronin had never been so glad to see his erstwhile soldier in his life. Sedgewick Icetrotter had been one of the worst soldiers he'd ever trained, but he'd shown determination and persistence despite his setbacks. When he'd dislocated his left arm trying to string a bow, Ronin had seen the defeat in the younger centaur's face along with the pain. Ronin's heart ached for him, but he'd kept his words to himself.
Now Sedgewick stepped forward, arm in a sling, with more confidence Ronin had ever seen him display, and some of his tension melted away. By the Goddess, let him be able to do this. Ronin rarely prayed, but he wanted the best for Sedgewick. The man had a gentleness and beauty Ronin had never seen in any other centaur and some part of him wanted to preserve that. It would be ruined by fighting and war.
"What do we do, Sedgewick?" Bethany fixed her green-brown gaze on the buckskin stallion. "Do you know what caused the welts?"
"Yes, Master Bethany. They're called Winter Lace Stars and they have a bad toxin that shuts down the organs if there are enough of them." Sedgewick ran his hands lightly over the welts on Navarro's arm and the man groaned. "We're going to have to lance each one and smooth an antidotal salve over them."
"Do you know what goes into the salve?"
"Yes. My granddam taught me." He grimaced and wouldn't meet Ronin's gaze. "The problem is I can't make it with only one arm."
"I'll help you. Just tell me what you need done and I can be your extra hands."
Both Bethany and Sedgewick gaped at Ronin for a moment. Hellfire, he'd surprised himself with the outburst, but he wouldn't go back on his offer. His men needed him and he'd do anything he could. And if you're really honest with yourself, you'd admit you want to spend a little time with Sedgewick.
Bethany was the first to recover. "Thank you, Corporal. That will be very helpful." She nodded to the injured men. "First, I'll need you to to get these men stripped so we can see the extent of the damage."
Ronin stuffed his disappointment behind a sharp nod. "Will do."
"Good. Sedgewick, please show me what you need and let's get started."
While Ronin helped Navarro and Colver undress, he kept Sedgewick in sight as the buckskin directed Bethany in a soft but sure voice. The men moaned when he lifted their shirts and armor, and he cringed in sympathy. Great, swollen welts spread across their backs from skull to tail, disfiguring them in red sores.
Medicinal scents accompanied the grind of a pestle against a mortar bowl, and Ronin turned just as Bethany called for him.
"Can you please grind this while I prepare the salve base, Corporal?"
"Yes, of course, Master Healer."
Ronin took the pestle as the human woman gave him a friendly smile and he tried to smile back, but Sedgewick's presence beside him made it difficult. Oh, for the love of Epona, I should be able to do one simple task. He bent to it, putting his strength and focus into the action of grinding the medicinal herbs. He almost jumped when someone laid a hand on his forearm.
"Firmly, but gently, Corporal. Marble isn't as good as the herbs for healing." Sedgewick's voice held amusement as well as warmth.
Heat blossomed across Ronin's cheeks and chest. "Forgive me, Sedgewick. My concern is with my men."
Sedgewick lost his smile and nodded, releasing Ronin. Ronin regretted his words immediately and cursed himself for a nervous fool.
"Of course, Corporal. But if you grind them too much, they lose potency." Sedgewick nodded to the mortar. "I think they're ready. Bring them to the fire, please."
Ronin dutifully followed his former soldier and brushed the crushed herbs into a pot of boiling water. Sedgewick nodded and stirred them with a soothing rhythm, his good arm flexing in ways that set Ronin's heart galloping. Sweet Goddess, what I'd give to feel his arms around me.
Ronin mentally balked at the uncharacteristically tender thoughts and shook his head. "Must you keep stirring?" The question came out harsh, but Sedgewick smiled.
"Yes. It's necessary to boil them down to their essences." He shrugged. "Long work, but worth the effort."
They stood side by side, watching Sedgewick stir the pot of herbs in a companionable silence. His motions added a level of comfort to Ronin's world, an unusual sensation, and one he'd sorely missed. It reminded him of times spent with his dam while just a wee colt, when she'd ruffled his hair and told him he'd someday find a mare of his own to stable.
Ronin mentally shook his head. Despite his mother's prediction, he'd never been interested in mares or mating. His focus had been on the military life with his brothers-in-arms. He'd striven to be the best soldier and leader to those who depended on him. It had been all he needed.
Ronin's gaze rested on the bunching muscles of Sedgewick's arm and an unbidden desire for touch welled up in his chest. Ronin wanted Sedgewick by his side and in his barn, sharing the military life with him. Even if he does make a terrible soldier. He took a breath to say something, but an uncharacteristic fear closed his throat. Fear that Sedgewick would find his interest unwelcome. The buckskin stallion had never shown a proclivity for male-male interaction.
Please, Goddess, give me this one chance.
I hope you enjoyed and this story will be available at the end of January 2015. But let's get to the good stuff - GIVEAWAYS! I'm offering a Siobhan Muir A Year's Worth of Romance 2015 wall calendar and a Siobhan Muir coffee mug to two separate winners. All you need to do to win is comment with an answer to this question: What new beginning are you going to try in 2015?
Leave your email address or Twitter handle (so I can contact you if you win) with your comment. The giveaway goes from December 31, 2014 to January 4, 2015 6:59 pm EST, and is open to U.S. and Canada only. You must be 18 yrs or older to win and please void where prohibited. Hopefully you came from Karen Michelle Nut's blog and if you click on the button below, you'll move on to the next blog and the next chance to win.