When Nicholas Herron, Duke of Berwick and his best friend, Rolf Torgesson, two of King Edward III’s most powerful and respected knights, discover a badly beaten young woman hiding in the forest, they swear to protect her. By the time they learn that she is Lady Kathryn Weston, and that her attacker is none other than her betrothed, Robert Walford, the powerful and ruthless Duke of Pemberton, it is too late. They have both fallen in love with her and she with them—a love so forbidden it could cost them everything, even their lives.
Set amidst the turmoil and pageantry of 14th-century England, Dark Warrior weaves a vivid tapestry of three lost souls bound to each other with a deep, abiding love. But will that love survive Walford’s evil plan to attack Berwick Castle, take it apart stone by stone and ultimately destroy everyone who lives there?
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Reviews for Dark Warrior
“The medieval vocabulary employed is simply astounding. Not only is it encyclopedic, but it’s used beautifully and paints a perfectly vivid context. Extremely well done. The plot of the story is excellent in both balance and momentum. It’s exciting, suspenseful and deeply human…I couldn’t turn the page quick enough! An absolute delight to read.”
She closed her eyes, savoring the sensation of his arms hard around her beneath her breasts. His long legs, bent at the knees, held her in the protective V of his powerful thighs. They sat there in the cooling water, reluctant to leave, enjoying the feel of each other’s bodies, his hard and powerful, hers soft and yielding.
At one point William came and had the grooms empty some of the cool water, replacing it with hot. Neither Rolf nor Kathryn moved or opened their eyes.
After they had left, Rolf loosened his embrace, freeing his hands to caress the creamy satin of her skin up her arms, across her shoulders, down her arms. Back up. Down.
With an incoherent little murmur, she sighed and snuggled back against him.
He was so like Nicholas. And yet so different. There was an innate stillness about him that fascinated her. That beckoned to her. That quieted a corner of her soul that even Nicholas, as much as she loved him, had yet to reach. As much as she needed her dark warrior, she also needed this man. She needed not only his body, but also his…serenity. The quiet assurance of his love for her.
His hands moved from her arms to cup her breasts. She held her breath as he lifted them in his palms, stroking the velvet of her skin. His thumbs began to flick across the hard, achy points of her nipples, making her moan softly. His cock jerked to life along her spine. Taking her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers, he rolled them gently back and forth, twisting them, pulling them as they lengthened and hardened even more.
A sigh shuddered through her as he bent his head forward and began to rain kisses along the slender column of her neck. She shifted her head, angling it to give him better access. He closed his teeth over the tender place where her neck and shoulder joined. Giving her a loving little bite, he then laved it with his tongue.
“Thou art so soft,” he sighed, lifting his head reluctantly. “So smooth. I’ve never felt aught as soft as thee.”
“Not even all of your drooling women?” she teased.
He sighed again. “Kaereste…”he began slowly, softly. “I must explain some things to thee.”
“Nay, my love.” She shook her head. “You need explain naught. I accept you as you are. I accept everything about you.”
But he would not be deterred. He pressed the side of his face against her cheek. “After Inge and the baby died, I was in a rage at the unfairness of it. I hated God. I hated everything and everybody in the entire world. I’m afraid I took a lot of that anger and hatred out on women. I hated that they were alive while Inge was dead. They became naught more than holes for me to fuck.”
She winced at the harshness of his words.
“And I fucked a lot of them. I took from them. With no thought to their needs or their feelings. With no thought for aught except my own pleasure.” He paused. “Oh, I never forced any of them. I only took what was freely offered. But I had no respect for any of them, either—nor myself, for that matter.
“Until I met Nick.” He rubbed his cheek lovingly against hers. “He truly enjoyed women. He enjoyed giving them pleasure. The first woman he shared with me was older than us—a widow. Together the two of them cut through all my hatred and anger and taught me that taking the time to give a woman pleasure only added to my own. Thanks to them, I began to see women for the treasures they truly are.
“But I still didn’t love any of them. Oh, I gave them pleasure, but naught of myself. Because I was frozen inside.” He paused again, his hand absently stroking up and down her forearm. “And then I met thee.” She opened her mouth to speak, but thought better of it and remained silent. “Thou hast melted the ice around my heart. For the first time in seven years I am able to feel something.” He moved his head so that his mouth was just above her ear.
“And what I feel is love. Not the pallid, immature love that I felt for Inge. I have been over that for many years. Nay, what I feel for thee is the deepest love a man can possibly feel for a woman. A love that springs from the depths of the soul.” He sighed heavily. “But, until last night I despaired of ever having thee. Because Nick got to thee first. I knew I was too late. I knew I could never have thee.”
A tiny, strangled sound escaped from his throat, and he took a moment to steady his breathing. When he did finally resume speaking, anguish roughened his voice.
“And then, Nick…my best friend in the entire world…my heart’s brother…gave me the second greatest gift in the world.”
“What was that?”
“The opportunity to love thee. Freely. Openly. Without guilt.”
“And what is the first greatest gift in the world?” she asked curiously.
“Thee,” he said simply. “Loving me.”
Heart aching, she slid her shoulders across his chest, twisting at the waist and turning her head, lifting her face for his kiss. And he was kissing her, his lips impossibly soft against hers in a sipping, tasting, savoring kiss, drinking from her lips as if she were the sweetest wine. Tiny little mewling cries escaped from her lips as she arched her back, pushing her breasts more deeply into his clever hands.
“Open for me,” he whispered against her mouth, and as she did so, his tongue swept in and the kiss became a ravishing exploration, filled with hunger and need so intense, so desperate, it nearly consumed her. Jolts of electricity scorched a crackling, sizzling path through her, until her entire body was naught but a molten sea of flames.
Julie has been writing her entire life, but it wasn’t until November of 2012 that she burst onto the erotic romance scene with her sizzling hot first novel, Loving Sarah, followed by its sequel, Owning Sarah, ten months later. Her third novel, Dark Warrior, released on January 15th, is set in 14th-century England. It is her first historical romance.
Julie lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Now retired after a 25-year dream career, first as a children’s librarian then a professional storyteller and puppeteer, she once again has time to devote to her new love, writing erotic romance, the steamier the better, thus following the career path blazed by so many before her—from kiddie lit to erotica, lol.
Also by Julie Shelton
Loving Sarah, a Siren MFM Menage Amour, BDSM Collection, with a Heat Rating of Sextreme.
Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Julie, thank you so much for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book is Dark Warrior. Where did you get the idea for this sizzling romance?
JS: I was doing research on the middle ages for my Honors paper, so I could graduate from college “With Honors.” Since I could write it on any topic, I chose life in a castle in the 13th century because that time period had always fascinated me. Of course, since my major was French, it had to be a French castle, lol. Oh, and the paper had to be written in French.
So I immersed myself in the topic, spending months researching every aspect of daily life in the middle ages, from the clothes they wore to the food they ate, from how they cleaned their clothes to how they de-rusted chain mail. And while I was in the middle of all that research, the idea for Dark Warrior sprang into my mind. Since I was taking notes on 3 x 5 index cards, that’s what I used to jot down the scenes in Dark Warrior as they came to mind. Before I knew it I had four shoe boxes full of index cards—two of them with my research notes, the other two with the novel. I carted those boxes around for years until finally I transcribed the book to my first computer back in 2003.
HH: What can you tell us about Kathryn and why will readers identify with her?
JS: In spite of the fact that she is a noblewoman, she has not had an easy life. Disappointed that she wasn’t born a son and heir, both her father and mother ignored her, letting her grow up more like one of the servants than the daughter of an earl. At age 14 she is sent away to a convent, where she is constantly punished by the nuns. Then her father sells her to a ruthless and powerful man who rapes her and beats her practically to death for spurning his advances. She runs away and is found by Nicholas and Rolf three days later. She is spunky, gracious, in spite of her less-than-genteel upbringing, and determined to get the most out of life she possibly can, despite all the setbacks.
HH: What do you like best about Nicholas and Rolf and why will readers love them?
JS: I love that they are both honorable men who take their knightly oath to protect the weak and the helpless very seriously. They fall in love with Kathryn instantly and it doesn’t matter to them that she’d been raped by another man. They will risk everything to protect her. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re both sexy as hell.
HH: What makes this story different from your other works?
JS: Well, my first two books, Loving Sarah and Owning Sarah are both contemporary MFM Menages, BDSM Collection. Dark Warrior is different in that it is an historical MFM Menage. But all three have Heat Ratings of Sextreme, so you know they’re all smokin’ hot.
HH: What do you think about its reception so far?
JS: The reviews have blown me away. Nothing but 5 stars from all the reviewers and I am so grateful.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
JS: I am currently working on Keeping Sarah, the third installment of my first two books, although it is not strictly a sequel. It is more of a novella-length addendum to set up the next books in the series, which will be about some of the other characters in these three books.
HH: What can you tell us about day-to-day life for you as an author?
JS: I don’t have a typical day, although other writers seem to be able to stick to a schedule. I’m retired, so I pretty much write all the time I’m not answering emails, posting promos, reading, grocery shopping, running errands, etc. Sometimes that means I write for hours and hours. Sometimes it means I don’t write a word for days and days. I’m trying to break myself of that.
HH: What are you reading now?
JS: I’m reading The Art of Domination, Book 2 in the Art of D/s series by Ella Dominguez. OMG, it is hot!
HH: What appearances do you have coming up in 2014?
JS: I have a feature this month in BTSemagazine and I’m blogging on Valentine’s Day with author Susan Hayes. Check my website or FB author page at www.facebook.com/Juliesheltonauthor for the link.
HH: Where can readers find you online?
JS: My website is www.juliesheltonauthor.com. I am currently having a contest, giving away a copy of one of my books to every tenth person who signs the Guest Book. After the hundredth person signs up, all names go into a virtual hat and I pick five more lucky winners. So be sure to visit, and be sure to sign up!