Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel (Sneak Peek)

This week I have a special treat for you. The first glimpse into my twisted fairy tale romance, Curse of the Huntsman’s Jewel. I borrowed from the established tales of Red Riding Hood as well as Snow White and Rose Red (the sisters who befriend an enchanted prince) to create this magical universe. There are three romances in this book. One for each female lead character: Rosalind, Bianca, and Scarlett. You won’t want to miss the three handsome huntsmen brothers either. *wink*

Releases on March 29th! Preorder is available from ebook retailers HERE.


Prologue

Scarlett

A knock at the door disturbed the evening meal. Uncle Jack stood, gesturing for the family to remain seated at the table. Her grandmother and Aunt Caroline exchanged a lingering look, the stew before them left untouched upon the table. Her cousins, Rose and Bianca, continued eating without care. Scarlett knew better. Something was amiss.

She glanced toward the door where Uncle Jack stood over the threshold blocking whoever interrupted their peaceful evening. Voices echoed through the small space, but the words garbled together, muffled by distance and tone.

“Eat your supper, Scarlett.” Aunt Caroline gestured to the bowl of venison and potatoes in front of her.

“Come now, Red, you do not want it to get cold.” Grandmother lifted a spoonful to her mouth, but her gaze darted between the door and the table before her. “Finish your supper, and I shall tell you a bedtime story.”

Bianca and Rose bounced in their seats, grins on their faces.

“We love your stories, Grandmother.” Bianca shoveled a large spoonful into her mouth.

“Can you tell us the story about the huntsman’s curse?” Rose asked, her eyes wide.

“Of course, Rose.” Grandmother smiled and encouraged her to finish what remained in her bowl.

Scarlett took a bite of her food, unable to enjoy the flavor. A strange tension pulled tight in the small cottage. Rose always wanted to hear the story about the huntsman and the princess. Personally, Scarlett disliked the tale. It always left her with a sadness she could not describe. Were love stories not meant to have a happy ending?

The door closed and Uncle Jack returned to the table, his handsome face lined with worry making him look like an old man, burdened with exhaustion.

“Who was that?” Aunt Caroline wiped her mouth with a rag.

“The queen’s guard.” He cleared his throat and tucked his hands into his pockets. “We have been summoned.”

Her aunt dropped the cloth, her lip trembling. “How…? Never mind.” She rose from the table in haste, nearly upsetting the bowl of unfinished stew.

“Go. I shall remain here with the girls.” Grandmother rose from her seat and shooed them toward the door before any questions could be asked.

Curiosity burned within her. Scarlett regarded her aunt and uncle carefully as they donned their warm, outer garments. Her aunt pulled a satchel from the hook hanging near the door and slung it across her shoulders before retrieving her bow and quiver of arrows. They kissed their daughters and Scarlett before heading toward the door.

“We shall return as quickly as possible. Remain here until then.” Uncle Jack pulled on his cap, and together they ventured out into the night where the queen’s guard awaited them.

Before Scarlett could say a word, Grandmother pushed her empty bowl away and stood. “Shall we gather around the fire for our story, girls?”

Rose and Bianca wasted no time. They raced for the bearskin rug beside the hearth and curled upon it. Grandmother settled in the rocking chair beside the crackling flames.

Scarlett sighed. She reached her fourteenth summer only a fortnight past. She was older and wiser than her cousins. At eleven and twelve summers respectively, Bianca and Rose were still quite young. They enjoyed Grandmother’s tales of romance and adventure, while Scarlett knew of the dangers of the world.

Aunt Caroline and Uncle Jack took her in, raising her as their own daughter in the wake of the tragedy which took her parents’ lives. Only a wee baby at the time of their deaths, she remembered nothing of her birth parents. Her aunt and uncle welcomed her into their family, and they taught her the ways of the huntsmen. Or in her case, the huntress, giving her the tools to defend herself and survive. Scarlett embraced the challenge with relish.

“Once upon a time there lived a huntsman…”

Rose sighed, and Scarlett rolled her eyes, leaning back listening from a distance.

“Come join us, Red.” Grandmother patted the chair beside her.

Reluctantly, Scarlett retreated from the table and slid into the seat beside Grandmother. She folded her arms across her chest and fixed her gaze upon the flames in the hearth. How she detested love stories. Her thoughts remained on the curious summons from the queen as her grandmother continued her tale.

“This huntsman lived in the forest surrounding the royal palace.” Grandmother’s voice carried through the small cottage. “One day he fell in love with the princess. But he hid a dark secret, one that would bring his ruin should it come to light. He bore the mark of the Inkling, a message to all who saw it that he was an animus.”

Bianca gasped even though they heard the tale a hundred times before. The story infected them, drawing them in with every telling. “What form did he take?”

“No one knows his form, but for the sake of our tale, let us say it was a wolf.” Grandmother chuckled before continuing with her tale. “He remained content to admire the princess from afar and never tell her of his love. He watched and waited, praying fate would bring them together.”

“How romantic.” Rose clung to her every word. The contents of Scarlett’s stomach churned.

“One day, the huntsman was wounded while hunting. He managed to return to his human form and seek help, but he grew weak from his injury and collapsed deep in the forest.” Grandmother’s tone deepened drawing the girls into the tale. “A lone traveler found him. He happened to be a powerful alchemist and took mercy on the injured man, carrying him to his cottage. The alchemist healed the young huntsman, but the damage was done. He saw the Inkling beneath the young man’s skin.

“As payment for his aid, the huntsman bestowed a vial of his blood drawn directly from the Inkling. The alchemist vowed to inspect this mysterious affliction and gain a greater understanding of its power.” Grandmother leaned closer. “However, the huntsman did not realize how powerful his blood truly was and the magic qualities it possessed.”

“Foolish man,” Scarlett grunted in annoyance. How could the huntsman do such a ridiculous thing by relinquishing something so rare and coveted?

“Hush!” Rose scowled at her and turned to motion for Grandmother to continue.

“Several moons passed and the huntsman encountered a pack of wolves in the forest near the castle. He tracked them knowing they stalked prey.” Her voice lowered. “When he reached the clearing, the huntsman gasped. The ravenous pack encircled a woman wearing a white cloak and brandishing a large tree branch in a futile attempt to scare them away.” Grandmother swiped her hands at the girls like massive paws. “They attacked, and the huntsman joined the fray. He defended the woman, fighting off the pack of bloodthirsty wolves alone.

“When he defeated the final wolf, he converted into his human form and offered his hand to the cowering woman. It was the princess! He bowed low, and she threw her arms around him in gratitude for coming to her aid.” Grandmother sighed with satisfaction. “She explained how her horse had bolted when it smelled the wolves, casting her aside. When the pack surrounded her, she could not fight them off. Under the protection of the huntsman, she followed him through the thick and winding forest until they reached the safety of the castle.”

Scarlett listened to the story, knowing each part by heart and reciting it in her mind. Her cousins adored the tale, and her grandmother told it with such fervor, one would believe it truly happened. Try as she might to ignore the attraction of such a legend, it drew her in every time. She licked her lips and waited for Grandmother to continue.

“After being rescued by the handsome and charming huntsman, the princess grew quite fond of her savior. He returned her to the castle unharmed and was granted a boon for his daring rescue. Seizing the opportunity, he requested to become the princess’s personal protector.” Grandmother chuckled. “The king laughed at the bold request, but he acquiesced with gratitude, sensing the young man’s honorable intentions.”

Rose sighed again. Irritated, Scarlett nudged her with her foot.

“As time passed, their love blossomed, and the young huntsman waited for the opportunity press his suit for the princess’s hand in marriage.” Grandma’s smile faded and her eyes grew misty. “Until one cold winter morning, the alchemist returned with a gift for the king. A vibrant jewel with rare and mystical powers. The Huntsman’s Jewel, formed from the blood of an animus bearing the mark of the Inkling.”

Rose and Bianca gasped.

“The huntsman realized his mistake, but it was too late. The bargain he made by bestowing the blood to the alchemist bound his soul to the gem, and a cursed existence, one from which he could never break free. If he remained, the curse would plague generations to come.” Grandma sighed. “He stole the gem and transformed into his animus form before escaping into the night. The huntsman was never heard from again, and the princess languished of a broken heart.”

“This story is ridiculous.” Scarlett threw her hands up in the air. “Why must you always tell the saddest story? Aren’t love stories supposed to have happy endings?”

“I like the story, even with a sad ending.” Bianca scrambled to her feet and stuck out her tongue. “Why must you always ruin it?”

“The story ruined itself.” Scarlett scowled. “I do not understand why you cannot tell us a different, happier story, Grandmother.”

“I happen to like this one.” Grandmother shrugged and rose to her feet. “Off to bed, girls.”

Once they were tucked in bed, Scarlett attempted to sleep, but visions of snarling wolves appeared in her dreams whenever she tried. Darkness lay thick in the cottage, reaching down from the loft where they slept. She drifted in and out of sleep.

A door slammed, shaking the cottage. Scarlett bolted upright, pulling the blankets around her like a shield.

“Girls, wake! Hurry!” Her uncle’s voice echoed from below. A lantern flickered to life illuminating the small space. “Get dressed and gather your things, quickly!”

In haste, they dressed and packed a few items in their sacks before slinging them over their shoulders. They climbed down the ladders to find Grandmother and Uncle Jack pacing by the door with their own satchels on their backs.

Confused, Scarlett stepped forward. “Where are we going?”

His haunted eyes met hers. “We must go. Now. Whatever happens, run and do not look back.”

“Where is mother?” Rose asked, glancing around.

“Come.” Grandmother pulled her close, and they ventured out into the night.

As they weaved through the blackened forest, an eerie sound filtered through the silence. Wolves. The girls took off at a run with Grandmother and Uncle Jack following behind. They ran until their legs weakened and their chests nearly burst.

Somehow they remained ahead of the pack, reaching the river as the cool blue light of dawn broke over the horizon. They climbed into the boat and pushed off from shore. Grandmother cradled Rose and Bianca against her chest as Uncle Jack rowed.

Scarlett scanned the shore, catching a glimpse of the pack in the distance standing where the boat had been moored. Relief filled her.

“Where is mother?” Rose muttered between sobs.

“She is gone, pet. I am sorry.” Uncle Jack hung his head, hiding the tears staining his cheeks. “The wolves…” His voice drifted off as though it pained him to recount what had transpired. He cleared his throat. “Whatever happens, you must remain hidden from the queen. Do you understand, girls?”

Rose and Bianca nodded.

Scarlett tried to comprehend, but nothing made sense. “Why?”

“It does not matter why.” His dark gaze bored into her soul. “But if you wish to live, you must remain as far from the queen as possible.” Those were the last words spoken on the matter.

Naughty Feels So Nice at Romantic Shorts

I wanted to share this with ALL my readers and followers. ❤ Today, I’ve had a new short story published by the amazing Romantic Shorts. If you’re looking for a steamy holiday short story to warm you up tonight, I highly recommend it.

We’ve got:

  • Hot Grumpy Boss
  • Sexy Santa Claus
  • Holiday Office Party
  • Bad decision making skills
  • Thirsty Heroine
  • NSFW, literally

You know you’re curious now. Go…check it out. Leave a comment and some love for my RS family. ❤

All my love,

Kirsten

Release Day for Deceiving the Earl

Finally, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived.

Deceiving the Earl has made it to your e-reader. If it hasn’t, then perhaps you should consider picking up a copy.

deceiving the earl cover art

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Apple

Smashwords

I will be going Live on Facebook this evening, May 10th, 2018, at 8 pm, EST to host an AMA (ask me anything) chat. There will also be a giveaway! So you don’t want to miss that. Just follow me on Facebook here:

https://www.facebook.com/KirstenSBlacketerAuthor/

My last newsletter featured the first look at Adele and Christopher. So today, I’m offering you a more intimate glance into their book. It’s one of my favorite scenes featuring Christopher teaching Adele to waltz. I hope you enjoy it.

“Lord Dorrington has requested your presence in the parlor, Anne,” he said.

“Another lesson.” She sighed dusting her hands on her apron and then removing the garment. “What is it today, Jameson? Introductions? Conversational etiquette?”

“Dancing, I believe.” His lips quirked up in an amused smile. “One of your favorites, if I am not mistaken.”

Adele could not stop the smile from gracing her lips. Dancing had always been one of her favorite activities, second to reading. As she ascended the stairs, a small bounce in her step lightened her heart. He wished to teach her to dance, did he? Well, he would be surprised how quickly she learned. In fact, he might learn a few things from her during this lesson.

The thought of being his dance partner created flutters of excitement in her chest. She wished for nothing more than to lose herself in the music, in the movements.

She entered the parlor and noted all the furniture had been arranged to give them adequate space to dance.

Lord Dorrington stood before a Victrola, arranging a disk on the machine.

“You summoned me, my lord?” she asked by way of announcing her presence.

He glanced over his shoulder. “Yes, I believe there are a few more details we must practice before the ball.” He lowered the arm of the machine and the room filled with sweet, familiar music.

Almost without prompting, Adele felt her body begin to sway with the melody. A waltz. How delightful. She caught herself before he turned around.

When he did, he approached her. “Have you ever danced before, Anne?”

“Once or twice,” she lied.

He offered his hand in invitation. “Would you care to dance?”

“Nothing would delight me more,” she replied with a demure nod and took his hand.

Lord Dorrington drew her into his arms. Their bodies aligned perfectly creating a balance between them. She drew her stance tight, keeping her arms solid, her left hand pressed against his shoulder while her other lay clasped in his.

The heat rose between them as he led her into the dance. He took his time, attempting to guide her in the basic motions. Alas, her body would not be denied as the music infused with her soul. The lessons she savored so long ago came back with a simple turn on the dance floor.

Adele closed her eyes, allowing him to lead, but also allowing the steps to arise from her memories. She savored the music and the dance. With every pass, she found her heart growing lighter as well as her steps.

“I believe you lied to me, Anne.” Lord Dorrington’s voice interrupted her moment of bliss.

Her eyes snapped open, meeting his curious yet pointed expression. “Whatever do you mean?”

“You dance better than I do,” he said with a lopsided smile. “How many times have you waltzed before?” His gaze dropped to her lips, then back again to her eyes.

“A few,” she admitted in part. Truth be told, the waltz had always been her favorite dance to practice, even if she never had the opportunity to dance in a social setting before.

Together, they continued the dance, but the lesson became lost along the way. With their bodies moving to the music, their gazes fused, Anne realized how much she enjoyed this moment. She committed every detail to memory. Her first true waltz, and with Lord Dorrington.

Adele marveled at how far she had come. From distrusting to disinterested to disarmed. Lord Dorrington enlightened her to a great many things it seemed.

His grip tightened on her waist as they spun faster, attempting to match the tempo in perfect synchronization. Everywhere his body pressed against hers heated with a delicious friction. She longed to lean against him fully, to feel his warmth seep into her.

Her gaze dropped to his mouth. The softness of his lips contrasted with the sharp angles of his face. Lord Dorrington, with all his dark, brooding features and isolated eccentricities, cut a fine and quite handsome gentleman.

“Why have you not married?” Adele asked, regretting the question as it fell from her lips.

A pang of sadness pierced his eyes before he replied. “Marriage requires intimacy.” He paused. “Who would want a broken man?”

“I believe we are all broken in some way,” Adele responded, her voice gentle.

He glanced away for a moment before meeting her gaze with his own. Lord Dorrington smiled.

Adele quelled the nervous flutter in her stomach. Lord have mercy, but her heart could not take the ache any longer. Why did he affect her so?

His grip on her waist tightened, drawing her closer. Their steps slowed until it became a calm sway in the midst of the storm of attraction brewing between them.

“You are a strange little bird,” Lord Dorrington said in awe. “Somehow I feel a connection to you in ways I cannot comprehend. You quite baffle me.”

“Your compliment leaves me speechless.” She batted her lashes and smiled.

He spun her, shaking the simpering debutante from her display. He leaned close, his lips nearly brushing her ear. “You are far too clever to play coy, Anne.”

Saints above, she would have melted or run from the room, but his arms held her fast. Every fiber of her being protested and craved his proximity, his touch. Adele dared hope for more, even though her rational mind told her to push him away.

She pulled back enough to gaze into his eyes, dark and deep like the sea at midnight. How she longed to brush the wayward lock of hair back away from his face. His handsome face betrayed his desire, and yet she saw the hesitation in every breath he took.

He could have stolen her soul in that instant, and she would have relinquished it without a single solitary regret. Adele dared not speak for fear of shattering the fragile sacred moment.

*sigh* This scene makes my heart flutter. I wish I had someone to waltz with me. My poor husband has two left feet when it comes to dancing. Although bless him, he does try.

Thank you for all the support and encouragement. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

SNEAK PEEK at Deceiving the Earl

Hello, darlings. My latest novel, Deceiving the Earl, will be releasing in May! I’ve decided to share a little snippet from this Victorian romance. It has a dash of mystery and a hint of steampunk elements. If you’ve ever seen Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes film series with Robert Downey Junior, this book is similar in aesthetic.

Please keep in mind, this hasn’t been to my editor yet. So have patience with me. We’re still in the process of polishing the story. Thank you.

Allow me to introduce Adele and Christopher…

Spring 1895

Adele Prescott is the daughter of the Viscount of Longmont. After her family is killed in a house fire, Adele hides her identity and becomes a maid in the home of Lord Christopher Underwood, Earl of Dorrington. Why? Because she believes the fire was no accident and that the earl had some hand in her families deaths.

Lord Underwood is a man haunted by the past and laden with secrets. His reclusive nature leaves him to pursue his passion for science, but after the fire, he wishes for nothing but the blissful oblivion of opium and seclusion. Until he meets his new maid, and a plan forms in his mind. A plan that leads to an intimacy neither of them expected but brings them into the heart of danger.

Excerpt:

The sound of the door opening interrupted their solitary moment. A wave of fear forced Adele to spin around, turning her back to the door. She would not want to be caught idle while she was supposed to be working.

“My lord,” Elizabeth said behind her. “Pardon us.”

“Ah, yes, I had forgotten you would be here at this hour.” His voice tugged at her memories. While familiar, it echoed strangely in her mind, as though distant, foreboding, and strangely alluring.

Adele turned, keeping her head down. She bobbed a small curtsy and avoided meeting his gaze.

“Is this the new maid?” he asked.

“Aye, my lord, this is Anne.” Elizabeth stepped to the side as he approached them.

He paused before Adele. She studied his neatly pressed trousers and the tips of his polished shoes.

“If you will beg my pardon, my lord, I shall fetch some coal for the fire.” Elizabeth’s voice echoed from the doorway.

“Very well,” he said in dismissal.

Adele stood as still as her trembling body would allow. Her heart pounded. There would be no way to hide herself from him now. Most masters were satisfied when the work was completed and their servants remained silent. Adele closed her eyes and took a deep breath. What if he recognizes me?

“Anne.” Her alias on his lips sounded almost like a challenge.

“Aye, my lord,” she replied, her voice steady, unlike the emotions boiling beneath her calm exterior.

“Will you not meet my eyes?” he asked. When she hesitated, he tipped her chin up with his gloved fingertip.

With a deep breath, Adele met his gaze. She faltered only for half a second, not because of his familiar face, but because of the shock of his deep, soulful hazel eyes. Never in her father’s long acquaintance with him, had she taken the opportunity to converse with him, let alone share a lingering look.

Lord Underwood was even more handsome than she’d remembered. His dark hair lay in waves, longer than fashionable, but neatly kept. The strong lines of his jaw were shadowed by a days’ worth of stubble. It lent him a roguish air. Her breath caught. From his dark, penetrating gaze to the soft smile haunting his lips, Adele found herself mystified by the man before her.

He only ever visited her father to work in the laboratory. Everyone knew him to be a reserved sort, especially after he had returned from the war and inherited his brother’s estate. Adele wanted to despise him for the path he had led her father down. But finally seeing him, eye to eye, she saw the despair behind the gentleman’s façade.

His fingertips brushed along her scar. “An injury from the fire, I presume?”

“Aye, my lord.” Adele suppressed the sudden desire to run as he inspected her face.

“You were fortunate to escape with your life, my dear.” He nodded before dropping his hand. “How do you find your new post?”

“Very well, I thank you, my lord.” Adele tried to keep her answers direct and simple.

He tilted his head and regarded her closely. “Have we met before? Upon my visits to your former employer’s estate perhaps?”

“It is possible, my lord. However, I do not recall.” She bowed her head unable to bear the constant scrutiny, fearful he would remember her.

He exhaled sharply. “I shall leave you to your duties then, Anne.” He turned to leave before pausing in the doorway and gesturing to the cylinder in the corner of the room. “Oh, and careful as you dust the inverter. It is liable to produce an electric shock that may be uncomfortable.”

With those cryptic words, Lord Christopher left her.

Adele collapsed in a chair and pressed her hands to her cheeks. Relief flooded her as she realized he did not recognize her. The dye in her hair and the scarring from the fire must have altered her enough to allay any suspicions he might have. She allowed a smile to cross her lips. Surely she would be safe enough to discover what he had convinced her father to study in that laboratory.

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek at Deceiving the Earl. I wanted to share the moment they first meet in the novel. What did you think?

I’m excited to share this novel with you. Keep an eye here for more details about the release date and special events.

Until we meet again, may your bookshelves be full and your hearts even more so.

All my love,

Kirsten

Surprise!!! Jewel of Winter is HERE!

Hello my friends…

Today is a very special day. My first self published book releases!

I introduced you all to this story back in December. Well it’s available for purchase right now!

Amazon – JEWEL OF WINTER

Smashwords – JEWEL OF WINTER

Dive into this Victorian romance and discover the benefits to breaking the law.

jewelofwinter2400 (1)

A simple country girl at the mercy of a cold-hearted thief with more secrets than scruples.

As a widow, Jessamine gained the freedom she’d always desired. Her late husband left her his sole possession, an inn on the north road to Scotland. When a trio of gentlemen appear at the doorstep of her isolated inn during a snowstorm, Jess can’t help the curiosity coursing through her veins. Eavesdropping on their conversation only entangles her in their web of deception.

To the petite innkeeper, Edmund is a wealthy thief. Allowing her to think what she will, he decides to use her to his advantage. That is until she hides the stolen jewels and refuses to reveal their location. Never cowed by a challenge, Edmund issues an ultimatum: return the jewels or repay the debt with her body.