Love, intrigue...and a touch of the paranormal too

I first wrote this short novel thirteen years ago as an erotic romance set in Cornwall, a land full of pixies and giants, and steeped with pagan ritual, many of which were of my own creation, based very loosely on Cornish legends passed down through the ages.

That story, Dark Side of the Moon, focused on the sexual aspects of celebrating the winter solstice. In the new version, In this rewritten story, I emphasize the developing relationship between Alain, the cursed earl of St. Vincent, and Lea, a young noblewoman he has promised to wed and give his protection following her father's death.

Love grows between Alain and Lea Beneath a Cornish Moon, despite whispers and accusations about suspicious deaths and a century-old curse that has been visited on the St. Vincent earls.

I hope you'll enjoy this story that celebrates the journey from fear to passion, as trust grows despite the acts of those who would bring St. Vincent down. The cover is my own doing-- created from a Jimmy Thomas stock photo and a graphicstock.com illustration of a castle on a rocky shore overlooking the sea.

The book has been uploaded to Amazon (it's an Amazon exclusive for the next 90 days). If all goes well, it will be available for purchase by December 10 or 11.

In this short excerpt, Alain answers the summons of his late father's friend--a summons duty requires him to heed.

Alain, Earl of St. Vincent, rode at the head of a column of his faithful retainers. ’Twas his brother Brian who Baron Whitehurst had summoned, but Brian now lay six feet under Cornish ground, dead two cycles of the moon now, from a tumble over the cliffs that flanked their ancestral castle, high above an angry sea.

’Twas time for Alain to take a wife, ensure the succession. He had no notion that he’d live for long, for the curse of St. Vincent lay heavy on his shoulders. First his sire had succumbed to a wasting sickness—some whispered it had been slow poisoning but no proof had ever been found. Alain had barely returned from waging war for King Edward on the Scots border in time to hear last rites said over his father. Then, not a month later, Brian had fallen to his death. Ironically, he’d fallen the day before Alain was to have led a troop of St. Vincent’s retainers back to the war-torn Marches.

He knew well the rumors—that he had hurled his brother into the sea to take his place as earl, that he might even have somehow caused his sire’s demise. Alain hadn’t given the gossip credence. Would not. Since his childhood, he had suffered scorn for being the child of the mad countess, Cirra. He’d endured the knowing looks, the taunts that followed every mysterious death on St. Vincent land—until, last month when in a violent rage, Cirra had slain a well-loved servant in plain view of all the castle retainers.

Alain crossed himself, shaken anew at the memory of the incident. The look of fire in his mother’s eyes, the strength that had let her fight him off and slash his face with the same dagger that she’d then buried in Old Willy’s chest flashed through his mind. Never again did he wish to look on her, watch the madness overtake her and strip away the last vestiges of sanity from her pale, otherworldly face.

God, what he’d have given to possess the plain look of his sire rather than Cirra’s distinctive features. ‘Twas his own curse to remind his servants whose womb had nurtured him, each time they looked upon his face.

It was with deep misgivings that Alain had accepted his duty to rule St. Vincent upon his brother’s tragic death. In truth, he’d rather have lived the life of a warrior knight, far away from those who knew his mother and thought him an extension of her evil.

Mere days after assuming the role that had been Brian’s, Alain had been forced to lock his mother away in a secure tower, with trusted guards assigned to ensure she harmed no one else. His only other choice had been to slay her, which the resident priest had assured him would place his mortal soul at risk. He liked not the guilt that rode him, or the whispers he had to endure because he’d let her live when he’d have hanged—had hanged—retainers, for far less heinous crimes. Straining his eyes, he looked ahead into the dreary twilight and saw the single tower of Whitehurst Hall, where he came to honor a promise made long ago by his beloved sire.

They’d ridden here together once. He recalled the rare, pleasant time with his father, who had withstood Cirra’s fury caused by his arranging for Alain’s fostering with a baron in the Midlands, far away from home. The short visit they’d made at Whitehurst Manor where Brian had been training for knighthood had broken the five day journey to the Midlands. Alain held fond memories of the place, of Baron Whitehurst’s easy laughter. Of smiles and hugs and goodwill so different from the somber atmosphere he’d known at home.

.

As they approached the outer wall, Alain replayed the words of Beryl, the seer who had befriended him when others shunned him as the spawn of a godless demon. Cirra wants you not to wed, my lord. If you do not take a bride and mate with her at the winter solstice festivities, she will get her wish. Never underestimate the lady Cirra’s power. I fear it transcends restrictions placed by mortals, that she may find a way to work her evil even though she be locked away.

Pray God Beryl had been wrong, that Cirra remained securely ensconced in her tower, unable to cause more harm. Still, he would heed Beryl’s words, take part in the ancient Druid fertility rite he had heard much about yet never seen. He recalled Brian’s description of naked priestesses dancing on the moor, mating with the giants of Cornish legend, and his blood surged with anticipation.

Alain spurred his destrier, suddenly anxious to get to Whitehurst, claim a bride, and take her home in time for the solstice. With luck he would break a century-old curse. And prove to his people he was more his father’s son than his mother’s.

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