Friday Feature: Emma Prince
She is his hostage…
As the daughter of a proud Pict chieftain, Elisead’s duty is to make a marriage alliance for the betterment of her people. Yet the forest spirits whisper to her, calling her into the woods to carve in stone the long forgotten markings of the old ways. But when she witnesses a terrifying band of Northmen land on the shores of her village, she senses that her fate lies with the golden leader who entrances her with his dancing emerald eyes and claims her with his forbidden touch.
Desire binds them together…
Alaric sets sail from the Northlands with the weighty responsibility of making a permanent settlement in Pictland. To build an alliance with a local Pict chieftain, Alaric agrees to exchange hostages—and claims the chieftain’s daughter as his leverage. Now, his greatest challenge is to resist Elisead, the auburn-haired beauty who captivates him completely. When the fragile negotiations turn deadly, Alaric must choose between his mission and his desire to protect Elisead from the mysterious forces working against peace between their peoples.
1) Why Highland and Viking heroes?
I’ve always love braw Highland heroes—kilts, swords, and brogues? Yes, please! It wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve fallen for strong Viking warriors as well. As I was writing my first book, Highlander’s Ransom (The Sinclair Brothers Trilogy, Book 1), I started doing some research into the origins of the Sinclair clan. The clan’s roots originate in Normandy (which means that they are descended from both Frankish peoples and invading Vikings, who blended together to become the Normans). Plus, the Scottish-Norwegian wars in the 13th century meant that the Viking influence on the Sinclair clan was even stronger. As I delved deeper into the research (and traveled farther back in time in my imagination) I just knew that I had to tell the stories of the brave, fierce, and even honorable Vikings whose blood ran in the veins of my Highland heroes! In fact, Desire’s Hostage (Viking Lore, Book 3), is the story of a Viking warrior who travels to Pictland (what would become Scotland) to make a settlement—who knows, perhaps Alaric, the hero in Desire’s Hostage, is the ancestor of one of the Sinclair brothers!
2) What inspired your first novel?
I wrote my first novel, Highlander’s Ransom (The Sinclair Brothers Trilogy) on a whim. For years I’d been a fan of Scottish historical romance, especially as an escape or reward between all the books I was reading in graduate school. Although I studied English literature as an undergraduate, a Master’s student, and for five years in a PhD program, I never considered myself a writer of fiction. But one day I decided to write my own story, just for fun, and just for me. This was in 2012. I wrote 50,000 words, then put the book on the proverbial shelf for two years. I was lucky enough to visit Scotland with my husband in the summer of 2014 for a much-anticipated vacation. Seeing the beauty of the country and experiencing the rich history in person inspired me to finish my book. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I published the book on Amazon myself. Now that I write historical romance as my full-time job, I look for inspiration very consciously everywhere I go. But for my first book, I’d say the inspiration came from my bottomless love for historical romance and all things Scottish!
3) Every romance writer has a few desert island keepers. If you were stranded on a desert island, what books make your “must have” list?
If I could have my kindle with me, I’d fill that sucker to the brim with books! I’d definitely have Pride and Prejudice on there—no matter how many times I read Jane Austen’s words, they never grow stale for me. I’d also probably bring My Antonia by Willa Cather—not a romance, but as of now it’s my all-time favorite book. And I’m going to cheat a little and pick a series to take with me as well: Monica McCarty’s Highland Guard series. Every one of those books is a gem!
A flicker at the edge of Alaric’s vision had him snapping his head around.
It was the same flash of red he’d seen in the underbrush a moment before.
This time, Alaric didn’t hesitate. He exploded into a sprint toward the figure.
Like a spooked animal, the lurker bolted. The figure cut suddenly and sharply to the right, darting back toward the river.
He couldn’t have set the trap better himself. He’d pin the prowling observer between himself and the water. Then he’d have answers.
Alaric’s legs and lungs burned, but he pushed harder. At last, he struck. He darted right, knowing there was nowhere for the runner to go.
Just as he reached the tree line where the river’s sandy bank opened, he skidded to a halt. His jaw slacken in stunned silence as the red blur at last froze and turned to him.
It was a woman.
A beautiful woman.
A terrified woman.
Her small frame heaved with labored breath. Berry-red lips parted as she gasped for air. Her wide eyes darted desperately, searching for an escape, but they found none. At last, those large eyes settled on him, and his sharp inhale had naught to do with the chase he’d given her.
Deep pools of liquid amber held him, begging silently for release. Her golden eyes were set off dramatically by her auburn-red hair.
This wild forest spirit was the red blur that had been stalking him earlier. But she wasn’t a spirit. Nei, she was a flesh-and-blood woman.
Slowly, Alaric lowered his sword and shield. His gaze once again slid over her, and despite himself, his blood stirred with lust.
Suddenly, the shouts of his crew sounded in the forest behind him. A look of utter horror stole over the woman’s face, and all at once he was drowning again in her amber eyes as they pleaded with him wordlessly.
“Go,” he said, choosing the Northumbrian tongue.
Impossibly, her eyes widened even more as disbelief and comprehension warred on her features. She’d understood him.
Alaric glanced over his shoulder to gauge how close his crew was. When he turned back, the girl had already darted away.
Why in Hel’s realm had he let her go? He needed answers, but something about the desperate fear in those enthralling amber eyes at his crew’s approach had been his undoing.
“What in Odin’s name—” Madrena crashed through the underbrush, sword raised. When her eyes landed on Alaric, unharmed and with his blade and shield lowered, she stilled.
“’Twas a woman,” Alaric said, loud enough for the others to hear as they caught up with Madrena.
“And she got away?” Madrena snapped, her eyes flaring in outrage.
“I let her go.”
“Alaric, why in—”
He held up a hand to silence his sister. His gaze roamed once more to where the auburn-haired beauty had stood a moment before. Her small boot prints trailed across the sandy riverbank, then disappeared into the shadowed forest.
“We’ll follow her. If there are others who live in these woods…well, we’d better introduce ourselves.”
Connect with Emma Prince and Her Books
Want to win* an ebook copy of Desire’s Hostage (Viking Lore series, Book 3) ?
Respond to the following prompt in the comment section below and you’ll be entered to win.
Emma shared some of her desert island keepers. Now it’s your turn. Share a few of yours in the comments below and you’re in the drawing for a free ebook of Emma’s Viking romance, Desire’s Hostage.
*Random winner drawn from comments by noon EDT on 7/2.