The Temperate Warrior
Book 1 of the Warrior Sagas
Genre: Historical, paranormal romance, Viking
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
ISBN: 9781622370924 ASIN: B00AH14MCY
Number of pages: 206
Word Count: 72K
Cover Artist: Erin Sendelbach
Blurb: He was her champion. She was his weakness. Together, they loved with wild abandon.
Gustaf Ræliksen lives by the blade of his sword. After avenging his father’s murder and reuniting with his family, he wants nothing more than to settle down and have sons of his own. Only one woman will do—a fiery redhead he saved from the spoils of war.
No longer forced to warm the beds of the men who’ve taken everything from her, Æsa has nothing to offer the noble warrior but her heart.
When someone with a deep score to settle seeks revenge upon her, Gustaf’s world is torn asunder. He has but one vow—saving the woman he loves from the ignorant fool who dared to best the temperate warrior.
About the Author:
I am an author with a passionate interest in Irish and Norse history. I live in the rolling hills of Kentucky with my husband and two children on a beautiful secluded farm of horses and hay fields.
I am a sucker for a good cup of coffee (lots of cream and sugar…and whipped cream if I can get my hands on it), great conversation, and a lilting Irish accent. I love to read and I can’t resist watching great epic historical movies.
From an early age, I’ve always had scenes playing out in my head. Whether it was a story with a moral or a tale with a twist, those ideas have never let me sleep until I wrote them out. And considering I have an eclectic ensemble of stories swarming in my brain at any given time, I write under a couple pen names to accommodate the various genre categories.
(Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance)
From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you’ll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love.
Visit my website at http://www.reneevincent.com/
Romance Blog: http://www.deepintheheartromance.com/
Gustaf’s hearty laughter echoed around her. It was a rarity she had come to cherish. With their troubles far behind them, she could only hope it would be a common occurrence, especially after they became husband and wife. She longed to be the source of his joy for the rest of his days and imagined giving him the sons he’s always wanted.
Their conversation on Skúvoy circled back into her thoughts. “I want to fill our house with many sons.”
“Aye, and daughters. I can only hope they resemble your beauty and speak with fire on their tongues.”
“And if they do not?”
“I shall love them anyway for they will come from your womb.”
She envisioned him cradling a babe in his arms and teaching the youngster all there was to know about the new world he’d been born into. That was, if she could provide him a child at all.
Given that no man’s seed from her sordid past had taken root, she worried her womb was barren, incapable of even producing Gustaf’s heir.
“What are you thinking?”
His voice broke apart her sullen thoughts and she struggled to fabricate a credible answer to his question. “I was thinking of us and you as a father.” A half truth was better than a blatant lie, and she’d only disappoint him with mentioning such nonsense, especially since they’d yet to give conception a fair try. “I am eager to be your wife and the mother of your children.”
Gustaf tipped his head in surprise. “From where did that thought come?”
Another bout of spirited shouts erupted, followed by a considerable splash as if some poor bloke had hit the water. “I suspect it came from the devious seven we already have in our company. It would bring me great pleasure to birth that many or more with you.”
“Seven children, you say?” Gustaf nodded as he considered the thought. “You do realize I am a man of mature age. ’Twould require a considerable amount of lovemaking to acquire that number of offspring.”
“I am willing if you are,” Æsa stated, leaning up on one elbow.
Gustaf scooted closer and inclined his body across her torso, bracing his weight on one arm at her side. His dark blond hair fell over his shoulder and hugged the sharp angle of his jaw shadowed with soft scruff. She dared to reach up and stroke the soft curls of his thick mane, but the serious look in his eyes had her hesitating.
“I am most willing,” he said softly, “as long as it makes you happy. For the rest of my life, I will do whatever it takes to ensure it. As my wife, you will not want for anything. What you desire, I will provide.”
“I desire only you, m’lord.”
He bent to kiss her, but stopped midway. “Would I disappoint you if I said I wished to wait until we returned to Inis Mór to marry?”
The warmth of his breath across her lips caressed her starved skin. The blue of his eyes sparkled like the depths of the crystal sea. He was a beautiful man and it still seemed hard to fathom that he was all hers. She could barely contain her emotions as she lay motionless in their near kiss. “You could never disappoint me, Gustaf. Knowing you are eager to share our union with your family is more than I could hope. I have been without a family for so long and to be united with yours is an honor I cannot put into words.”
His smile stroked her all the way to her soul and the anticipation of his mouth meeting hers consumed her whole being. Nothing mattered except this moment, this kiss that made her keenly aware of her heart beating in her chest. Her entire body tingled as his lips finally made contact and her will to tolerate much more of this deliberate torture disintegrated in an upwelling of exhilaration.
She arched into him, craving the feel of his hard body against hers. It had felt like forever since he’d touched her intimately, despite that it had been only a few days. She hated going a single moment without his touch and drew toward him like a delicate flower in desperate need of warm sunlight.
He forced his body over hers and cupped the underside of her breast as he ground his erection into her sex, now swollen and aching with need. There was so much passion in this one little kiss that it seemed to surpass all others in comparison.
She shifted beneath him and opened her legs, eager for him to pull up her tunic and bury his rock hard shaft inside her. As she felt his arousal more prevalent against her flesh, she was reminded of the previous promise he’d made to her: This will not be last time you feel my arousal at dawn. One morning when we are without eyes, I will have you.
She hoped this very morning was the instance he’d relinquish his vow. Wrapping her legs around his back, she encouraged him, giving him permission to take her in the fashion she knew he longed for. “Throw your temperance aside, m’lord. Please.”
He drew in a sharp breath and shuddered, his hands fisting the fabric of her kirtle at her hips, ready to hike it up. The hard scrape of his knuckles demanded his need for more persuasion.
“Aye, Gustaf. Take me.”
“I cannot,” he finally spat, breathing heavily. His jaw clenched and his eyes closed. The pain he endured of restraining himself cut across his face. “We are not alone. My men.”
His clipped words resounded in her head. “I was hoping you forgot about them.”
Gustaf sighed and let his forehead rest on hers. “All of me wishes I had.” He nudged himself against the open area of her thighs. “All of me.”
In one swift shove, he propelled his heavy body off hers and faced the fire, his breathing weighty and intense. Reaching between his legs, he shifted his burdensome erection and groaned. His chin fell to his chest and a long sigh heaved from his lungs. “Odin’s blood, you are but wicked temptation for the weak.”
Æsa sat up, feeling the strain of her sore muscles in the process. She ignored the sting of her aching back and touched his cheek, stroking his hair away from his tormented face. “Wicked enough to be punished?”
Gustaf stared at her, his eyes boring into hers. “Punished?”
She drew her finger over the hard angle of his jaw, down his neck and back up into the thick of his hair. “Call it what you will, but there is a fine line between punishment and pleasure. I have known great pleasure under the tenderness of your touch, but I long for more. I yearn to feel the wrath of the unchained warrior. To know what the abandonment of your restraint feels like between my thighs.”
She saw the column of his throat bob as he swallowed. Her words had struck him as hard as any blow to the gut, but she knew they likely caressed him like a warm tongue up his throbbing length.
“Perhaps having to abstain from your urges will force the wild animal from its barred enclosure when the time comes.”
“Perhaps,” he repeated, his voice cracking under duress.
She smiled and threaded her hands through his hair, wrenching his face closer to hers. “I can only hope.” With lust still blazing in his eyes, she took his lips and plundered his mouth with her tongue. As fiercely as she began the kiss, she broke away, capturing his wanton stare. “Sooner, rather than later.”
Gustaf had only one thing on his mind—well, many enticing thoughts, truth be told—but they all involved getting his hands on Æsa.
By the time he caught up with her, she was standing at edge of the water, the roaring sound of the waterfall competing with the thrum of his racing pulse. She had unraveled her braid and was making quick work of the two cloaks around her shoulders. Her wavy locks hung down her back, almost reaching the captivating curve of her hips.
When she turned to hang her cloaks over a nearby tree limb, she froze and locked eyes with him. Her breath could be seen on the brisk morning air as well as the tautness of her nipples through the thin fabric of her tight-fitting kirtle. He swallowed hard, imagining the taste of her favors, eager to lave the hard peak with his tongue and suckle as much of the soft globe as he could fit in his mouth.
Unable to stand there any longer, he strode toward her, his eyes drinking in her sumptuous curves. His hands automatically reached for her narrow waist and jerked her body into his before he crushed her against the tree. She whimpered under his assault and braced her hands on his chest, her meager attempt to hold him back inciting him that much more.
The voice in his head interrupted the rush of blood coursing through his veins. You are losing control again. Get a hold of yourself.
It took everything he had to release her. His legs shook beneath him as if they were mere saplings trembling under the brunt of a forceful wind. Stepping back, he stood before her disoriented and flushed beyond all reckoning. “’Twas wrong of me to follow you.”
“Why? Because your excessive desire for me outweighs your commitment to getting your men home in a timely manner?”
Gustaf took a deep breath. “There is that. But ’tis not the only reason.”
She approached him in the most seductive way, eyeing the expanse of his shoulders as she unlatched the brooch at his right. She removed his wolf-skin cloak, the chill of the invigorating air doing little to douse the raging fire in his loins. He left his arms dangling at his sides, fighting the urge to touch her, to grab her with both hands and press her curvaceous warmth to his rigid body.
She draped his cloak over the limb beside her and returned her attention to divesting him of the other adornments strapped to his body. Her eyes gazed at the bulge rupturing his breeches as she unbuckled his belt. Leaning his scabbard against the trunk, she licked her lips and cupped his bollocks in her palm. “What is it you fear, my lord? You can tell me.”
Her whispered words, falling from the alluring pout of her luscious lips, stroked him as soundly as if she’d dragged her fingertips over his bare flesh. “I want you. More than I wanted you yesterday. And with each passing day, my hunger for you grows in fiendish proportions. I want to ravish you, Æsa. I want to feast on you and feel you quiver beneath my tongue. I want to spread you wide and thrust deep within you as you call my name. I want to hold you down and for once,” he said, clenching his teeth, “just try to sate my appetite for you, though I know better.”
Perhaps he’d disclosed the list of his objectives in an effort to make her think twice about provoking the feral beast within him. The corner of her lip, marked with mischievous intent, hitched upward and he knew he’d failed to discourage her. In fact, he realized he may have provoked his own bewitching beast in the form of sweet femininity.
“Does time allow us to partake in such wanton acts,” she taunted, stroking his erection through his breeches.
“Time is not what concerns me, Æsa. ’Tis what will happen next once I get my hands on you.”
“Then touch me not.”
He stood helpless as she touched him. She slipped her hands beneath his tunic and splayed her long fingers across his abdomen. She skimmed over every ripple of muscle in his stomach and climbed each rung of ribs in his torso in the most deliberate fashion, making it that much harder for him.
When her fingertips grazed his chest, she sought through the thin layer of his curls and found that his nipples were just as taut as her own. Unmercifully, she stroked her thumbs back and forth, pressing her pelvis into his groin.
He refused to give in and reach out for her, turning his head to the side in hopes that averting his eyes would aid his torment. If anything, it made matters worse. His vivid imagination kicked in and ran wild with the notion of her roaming hands meandering south. Before he could stop it, he envisioned her dropping to her knees, fisting his girth and taking him all the way in to the back of her throat. He staggered backward, his blood hammering. The transient fantasy accosted him so fiercely he thought he’d spilled himself in his breeches.
Æsa gazed at him as he clutched the tree limb for stability and tried to gather his wits. “It seems you have just as much difficulty being touched as you have touching me with your own hands. Perhaps ’tis best if you watch.”
He stared at her as she inched her kirtle higher and higher. First her shapely calf took form, then her knees, then the outward curve of her creamy thighs. Gustaf’s throat felt dry and constricted. He could barely breathe. “Æsa, please.”
“Please what?” she cooed. “Show you more?”
Any subtlety she utilized before now perished as she lifted the fabric over her head and discarded it on the ground. His eyes swept over her naked body. The mesmerizing sight of her full breasts and rose-colored nipples drew most of his attention.
She walked backward toward the stream and allowed him all the time he wanted to stare shamelessly at her private parts. With each slow step, she tortured him, luring him to follow lest he be out of arm’s reach of the tempting favors she offered.
He knew why she was doing this. She wanted the man who could not hold back. She wanted to prove she was woman enough for all of him, that no matter how unruly his primal urges became, she would suffer the wicked pleasure of his total abandonment and reap every blessing she hoped to gain from it.
Foolish woman. Did she not understand how difficult this was for him? Did she not truly comprehend how crazy passionate he could be when thrown into a wolves’ den? He recalled her reference to punishment and pleasure. For him, the fine line was drawn between love and rage. Just as he’d gone berserk over the men who’d killed his father, he knew the compulsion for losing control in the heat of rapture was not far behind—especially where Æsa was concerned.
He’d never loved a woman as much as he loved her, and the feelings bubbling up inside him when he was on the brink of release was nigh the same as the fury he encountered in past battles. He was a dangerous man in either of those combustible situations, and Æsa was perilously playing with fire.
Unbeknownst to him, his foot lifted and stepped forward. He tried to stand firm, to keep his other boot planted, but he was drawn by forces more compelling than his own might. More definitive than his own fears. The need to have Æsa close, the need to feel her smooth skin and buxom body in his grasp, preyed on his mind until he had no choice but to close the distance between them.
If she wanted the man who was not so temperate, then she was about to have him. There was no turning back if he set this animal free. With his concern of going too far in the forefront of his mind, he kicked off his boots and ripped his tunic over his head. Inwardly, he’d made a deal with himself: he’d surrender to Æsa’s desires and forsake his reluctant tendencies as long as he brought her pleasure. If he thought at any moment she was second-guessing her plan of unfettering the temperate warrior, then he’d pull away.
He only hoped he could.
As he unlaced his breeches and stepped out of them, his heart pounded against his ribs and he felt as if his chest was expanding to the point of hyperventilation with each ragged breath he took. He snatched the pile of draped fur cloaks from the limb, slung one of them across his shoulders, and raced to the water’s edge to meet Æsa. He skidded to a halt in front of her, his body inches from hers.
She stood stock-still in all her naked glory. Goose bumps flourished across her porcelain flesh and her lower lip quivered from the cold. He gazed at her one last time before swathing her in her own cloak and pulling her close. The cool flesh of her lovely breasts smashed against the warmth of his, her glinting eyes heavy-lidded with lust. She tipped her head back, holding his gaze as she snaked her dainty, chilled arms around his back.
As automatic as breathing, he reached up and brushed his thumb across her shivering lower lip. “When I am finished with you, you will be trembling for a whole different reason.”
“Swear it, m’lord.”
His smile returned, though it portrayed anything but amusement. She and all her frisky aggressiveness was the very reason he wished to ravish her. He adored her feisty nature and her exceptional confidence. Those uncommon traits in a female, along with her stately beauty, made her the most erotic woman on this earth. And she was his.
He wound his arms around her middle and cupped both hands firmly on her backside, hoisting her higher so her delicate womanhood would feel every throbbing inch of him. “I swear on Thor’s hammer that no one will love you more than I. Or as fiercely.”