Please welcome today's special guest, Ashley York!
Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.
Ashley is giving away an ecopy of The Irish Warrior. Please read on and comment at the end to enter to win. Thanks!
Q: Please tell us about your latest release. Do you have a review you could share with us?
A: The Irish Warrior tells the story of Sean O'Cisoghe after he leaves the Priory in The Gentle Knight. The heroine rejected him and he doesn't take it very well. Here's a review:
" I wondered what would happen to Sean after leaving the Priory and seeing his love marry another, but no longer.
In this book we meet up with a few favourite characters and if you didn't like Sean in the last book you'll definitely love him in this. It's a book you can't put down and is definitely a keeper."
A: The Irish Warrior came about when I was writing the encounter between Brighit from The Gentle Knight and Sean O'Cisoghe. He became such a bigger than life character to me that i couldn't imagine him just being rejected by her and that be the end of him. In The Gentle Knight, he was a man who people took notice of for many reasons. They were at odds but you'll see in my final book of The Norman Conquest series, The Seventh Son, Peter has respect for Sean.
Q: Why do you write romance?
A: I write romance because I believe in the happily ever after. I have always been like that. I believe it's the little character flaws and the baggage that we carry that makes it hard to find our HEA. When I write romances, I can help the characters get past their demons or overcome obstacles and what's happened to them to find happiness. I wish life was like that.
Q: How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?
A: The first book in the Norman Conquest series was The Saxon Bride. That was a Saxon bride and a Norman groom. But the Saxon is the niece of the de-throned King Harold and a Godwinson, a very powerful family. Bringing the Godwin family into the story brought in the Scots from the north and the Irish from the west. It was very cool to give a taste of the different areas a thousand years ago.
Q: Why did you choose your setting and why was it perfect for your book?
A: I enjoy showing how areas differed. A thousand years ago, there was no unity except between individuals and their own groups. Alliances quickly shifted because the goal was survival not war mongering.
Q: How do you choose names for your characters?
A: The Scots and Irish are very similar in names. For me, the spelling of the names tells the reader where the character comes from and begins the telling of who they are.
Q: Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?
A: I chose a different title when I first started The Irish Warrior but then I grew to understand Sean's character better. He needed a title of respect. He is a warrior through and through.
Q: Where is your favorite place in the world?
A: Scotland-I can't wait to go back.
Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.
A: I love Thomasina's spunk. She had a difficult upbringing with no time for fancy daydreams about what her life might be like. She worked hard to take care of her brother and her father without a lot of gratitude.
Q: Which element of story creation is your favorite?
A: I would say creating characters is my favorite. I don't mean their hair color or how they look, I mean their inner beings, what motivates them.
Q: Which element of this story was the hardest for you?
A: Keeping it shorter than a full length book. I had started The Irish Warrior thinking this would be a novella but it's a long novella. I could have written so much more about Sean and Thomasina. It was hard to stop.
Here is a fantastic and entertaining excerpt from The Irish Warrior!
They ate in silence. The rain kept up with occasional fat drops that worked their way through the thick canopy to plop on them. It wasn’t long before she was being bitten by a variety of irritating bugs.
“Oh, damn.” Thomasina slapped the bug on her arm. Blood oozed across her soaked sleeve.
Sean sat leaning against a fallen log, oblivious, staring into the flames. His long, powerfully built legs stretched out in front of him. He’d retrieved a skin from his sack which he drank from at steady intervals without offering to share. They’d already found a nearby brook with water for drinking so she assumed it must be something stronger.
“Devil spawn.” She slapped another bug dead.
Sean turned his bright eyes on her, his brows low as if thinking through a problem. His long hair hung behind him, pulled back at the crown. Not really blond. More the color of wheat but it looked soft to the touch. He seemed to see right through her.
“Shite!” She slapped at her leg. She must be one tasty morsel according to all these bugs and he sat there totally unbothered.
At least in the cave there had been no flying things to feast on her, just a few bats that kept to their own area. It had also seemed much safer than this place, less exposed. She glanced into the darkness. She couldn’t make out anything beyond the light from the fire.
“Whoreson!” She slapped at her neck and her hand came back bloody. “What to hell!”
Sean raised his eyebrows now clearly contemplating her. As if she spoke a language he didn’t understand. As if he were just noticing her at all.
“Ye have quite a mouth on ye.” He sounded as if he were making an observation. No expression. “Let me ken when ye run out of expletives. I’ll be happy to supply yer youthful brain with words nae child should ken.”
“I’m not a child.”
Sean swept his gaze over her body and she felt the sudden urge to shield herself from his view. When he looked her in the face, he smiled. A knowing smile. A smile that said “I know yer secret”.
“I would not say ye’re a man yet. Would ye, Tommy?”
Thomasina seethed inside at her own prideful outburst.
Of course she was a child. Just a boy. Not a lass of ten and eight only pretending to be a boy.
Sean kept his eyes on her face. He watched but said nothing. The shadows cast from the fire played across the strong planes of his face. She shivered.
“Are ye cold, Tommy?” His voice pitched lower this time. He took a long drink, his eyes never leaving her.
She wrapped her arms across her chest, hugging herself. “Nae.”
He licked his lips as if whatever he drank were delicious.
A fluttering inside demanded… action. She held out her hand to him. “May I have some?”
“’Tis best not to indulge at such a young age.” His tone remained even but that light in his eyes intensified as if he were holding back laughter.
She kept her hand out. “Please,” she coughed again. “Please.”
Satisfied that her voice sounded more appropriate, she tipped her nose into the air. She tried for that I-will-not-back-down expression that boys get.
His white teeth gleamed and he took another swallow. “Are ye certain?”
Her hand did not waver and it suddenly seemed of the utmost importance that she taste whatever he was drinking. She was not much of a drinker. Her father imbibed too often and too much. She preferred not to be like him. This seemed different somehow. The need to win this stranger’s acquiescence pushed her.
His eyes pierced hers. She felt the jolt down to her toes and she couldn’t explain it. As he moved forward to pass her the skin, his eyes never wavered. They held hers as if in a trance. His warm fingers brushed her palm. Lightning shot up her arm.
“Thank ye.” Her voice sounded breathy.
She glanced at the glistening, pink lips just visible through his heavy beard. His eyes remained on hers. She took a sip. Bitter liquid burned down her throat and she jumped to her feet. Grimacing, she spit it onto the ground.
“Now that is a waste,” he said.
“What to hell is this?”
Sean’s hearty laugh surprised her. He remained sitting but his whole body shuddered with his deep, gut-splitting laughter. She paused to watch him. His eyes were closed. His broad shoulders shook with the sound. The tension in her gut eased a bit turning everything inside pliant.
He opened his eyes, starting as if surprised to see her watching him. He cocked a brow and gave her a sly look. “I did warn ye.”
Thomasina wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and smiled. A heartfelt smile. “Ye did.”
“Ye should have listened to me.”
“Yea.” She raised her eyebrows in expectation. “Have ye had enough fun with me now?”
Too late she realized she’d not disguised her voice. She swallowed hard. She waited.
Thanks so much, Ashley, for visiting our blog today! Everyone, please remember to leave a comment or question for Ashley to enter her contest!
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Find The Irish Warrior at Amazon!