Shay Savage debuts her new historical romance series Unexpected Circumstances, and Book 1 The Handmaid is out today. Read three excerpts, plus order your copy today!
In the U.S., besides being an opportunity to honor and pay our respects to fallen soldiers in America’s armed forces, Memorial Day also marks the unofficial start of the summer! Hopefully you have at least a few days of vacation coming you’re way soon, and you’ll want to make sure your TBR list is filled to the brim with #SexySummerReads to keep things steamy and entertaining!
Trust me, the Unexpected Circumstances series by Shay Savage needs to be on your radar. Ms. Savage herself describes this story as a “good, old-fashioned bodice ripper”, so historical romance fans, come and get it!
Unexpected Circumstances will be released as a seven novella series, starting with The Handmaid (out TODAY!), and a new novella will follow every two weeks (The Seduction = 6/14/2016; Book 3 = 6/28/2016; Book 4 = 7/12/2016; Book 5 = 7/26/2016; Book 6 = 8/9/2016; Book 7 = 8/23/2016).
So this will be the perfect set of novellas to enjoy through the summer months. Thanks to Shay, we have THREE excerpts to share from the first novella, The Handmaid. Check them out below:
In a bold political move, Sir Branford claims a handmaid as his bride instead of the expected princess in an attempt to spark a war. Poor Alexandra knows little of how to behave as the wife of a future king and knows nothing of the man who is suddenly her husband.
Alexandra knows she is being used as a pawn and must do her best to avoid scheming noblewomen and the scorned princess, accept her position as her husband ascends to the throne, and overcome her fears of the man with whom she now shares a bed.
Sir Branford is determined to have it all – the kingdom, a wife of his choosing, and the revenge he seeks for the death of his father. He doesn’t expect the naïve handmaid to become more important than he ever could have foreseen.
Sir Branford led me back to the table where he quickly finished a glass of wine before pulling me back to the dance floor with him. We stayed on the dance floor for some time, occasionally switching partners. When another man danced with me, I felt unsteady, and once I nearly stumbled. I managed to get through the evening without falling to the floor in my white dress and found myself relieved when Sir Branford took my hand again and informed me it was time for the last dance.
“You’ve held up well, my wife,” he said softly before twirling me one last time in a slow circle under his arm. The minstrels stopped playing, and the crowd cheered for us again. Branford smiled and waved, perfectly at ease as the center of attention, while I blushed and hoped I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Many of the wedding guests came to us again, offering their congratulations and wishing us well. Branford seemed to know each one by name and spoke eloquently to them all while I tried not to cower behind him.
“The reception was beautiful,” yet another lord commented to Sir Branford.
“I think it was splendid,” Sir Branford replied, “especially when you consider my eagerness to wed.”
The lord laughed and walked away.
“As splendid as it has been,” Sir Branford said, turning toward me, “I am tired of celebrating with the populace. I think I would rather take you back to my chambers alone so we can complete our union.”
He tilted his head slightly, and his gaze burned intensely into mine. He raised his eyebrows, and his half smile returned though I did not find it as joyous and carefree as it has appeared before. Now it displayed something more primal, something…hungry.
My heart raced, and I found it difficult to take a deep breath. I had been so overwhelmed by the wedding itself and the idea of marrying someone I did not know, I hadn’t even considered the expectations he would have of the wedding night.
Unlike the Princess Whitney, I was a virgin. My first kiss had occurred not four hours ago, right after Sir Branford slipped the ring on my finger. I knew what I was supposed to do. At least, I thought I did. Accounts of the act of marital relations were varied depending on who told the story though most seemed to agree it was for the benefit of the husband and for the creation of his heirs, not for pleasure of the wife. If she were lucky, he would not hurt her much, and it would be over quickly. A brand new panic permeated my head.
My husband, whom I knew so little about, was about to claim my body as the final act solidifying our union. I had only the very basic understanding of what was to come. I was absolutely terrified but trying desperately not to show it.
Remembered words of pain and blood scurried through my head as we approached a pair of large, wooden double doors.
Sir Branford reached out and pulled on the handle of the door leading to the last chamber. His eyes traveled up and down my body before he placed his hand on the small of my back, and we walked through. I heard the clang of the latch as the door shut behind us, sealing us in for the night.
Without warning, my back hit the inside of the door. Sir Branford’s hands were on my head, quickly removing my wedding veil and tossing it to one side. He combed his fingers through my hair, letting it flow loosely around my shoulders. Again, his eyes roved from my face to my feet, then back. I looked into his hooded eyes and startled at the way he stared at me before his mouth crashed onto mine. This was not like the first kiss, when we were pronounced man and wife. It was not like the gentle touches of his mouth to my hand, lips, or neck while we danced. This kiss was hard and fast and filled with urgent need. He grasped the sides of my face with his hands and tilted my head sideways. I felt his tongue as he traced the slight parting of my lips before he pushed it inside my mouth.
At first I was shocked. I felt my body go rigid from the sudden intrusion. The feeling of his tongue in my mouth was not unpleasant but strange and unexpected. I could taste the wine he had consumed after the feast, combined with a simply indescribable flavor that must have been solely his own. I could hear and feel his rapid breaths against my mouth. My heartbeat quickened, and my breathing might have followed if I could have caught my breath at all.
I placed my hands on his wide shoulders, not knowing where else I should put them, and held on while he ran his tongue along mine, touching and tasting me. He dropped one of his hands to my shoulder and then down my arm until it reached my hip. Slowly, he moved his hand around and grasped my backside, lifting me slightly off the floor as he pulled me against his body. I could feel the tip of something long and hard press against my navel. There was no way…it just wasn’t possible…he couldn’t possibly fit that…that…
I gasped into his mouth, and he released my lips only to travel to my neck, covering my throat with hot, wet kisses. My skin was left warm and tingling. He lowered me back to my feet and moved his hands up my sides, his thumbs brushing the sides of my breasts, causing me to gasp out loud. He continued his movements up and around the back of my shoulders, then quickly up and down my back as his lips covered every area of skin they could reach. He continued his effort with his eyes when his hands left me. I watched him reach down and pull off his belt and sash, dropping them in haste to the ground. With his trousers loosened, he pulled the ends of his shirt out before reaching for my hand and pulling me closer to him. His hands moved up and down my back again, searching.
“Parnell, I’m only going to say this to you once.” Branford’s voice turned cold. “Regardless of your feelings regarding my marriage, Alexandra is my wife now, and you’ll not speak of her with any disrespect. I will not have you refer to my marriage as ridiculous. Am I clear?”
“Yes, sire,” Sir Parnell responded, the tone in his voice switching quickly from jovial friend and cousin to properly chastised servant. “Forgive me.”
I felt Branford’s hand through my hair again, nearly lulling me into true unconsciousness. The carriage bounced through a rough section of the road, then continued on as the driver called out to the horses. The rain lessened, and the pattering sound on top of the carriage became softer.
“Something has changed, has it not?” Parnell said quietly.
“What is it, Branford?”
There was a significant pause before Branford responded.
“Parnell,” he said, “when I came up with this plan, I thought I was considering everything. Edgar would be angered but impotent to react since he brought it on himself. Whitney would be insulted, and between both those reactions, one of the next blows would lead to war. At the same time, it gets Camden off my back about finding a wife. Sunniva holds her tongue about wanting grandchildren, and I get it all—the kingdom expanded when we invade, the crown, an heir, and nothing else changes. At home, I have someone who can take care of me and my needs. I didn’t have any intention of being faithful, so it’s not as if my life away from home would change with the introduction of a wife.”
“I thought I had gone through all possibilities,” Branford said, continuing. “The woman who would be the catalyst was always nameless and faceless. It didn’t matter who she was as long as she wasn’t Whitney. I decided on one of her handmaids while I was out on the field because they sat close to Whitney, and it would be more…visually dramatic. I could walk up right in front of her and turn away at the last second. It would also anger her intensely, which is exactly what I wanted. There must have been a half dozen of them, and I didn’t care which. They would all be skilled in matters of the home, which keeps me from having to employ any servants whose loyalties are questionable. I only picked Alexandra because she looked at me early on, when I was first declared victorious, and she blushed when her eyes met mine. The color on her cheeks was simply lovely, and she has beautiful eyes.”
“Now your bride is no longer nameless and faceless,” Parnell said.
“No, she is not,” Branford replied. “When I took her up to my room, I had every intention of bedding her. I had been staring at her in that dress all evening, and I was ready to see what was underneath it.”
“And was she lacking?” Parnell asked. “You can still annul since you haven’t consummated the union.”
“She’s a commoner, Parnell.” His voice turned hard and callous. “I could open the doors of this carriage in the middle of a busy marketplace, take her in front of a dozen witnesses, declare her a lousy fuck, and still have the marriage annulled.
Make sure to add The Handmaid to your Goodreads TBR list and download your copy today!
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1rni4pE
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/
Amazon CA: www.amazon.ca/gp/product/
You can also go ahead and pre-order the second novella, The Seduction:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1T7kj7N
Amazon UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01FG5R67S
Amazon CA: www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01FG5R67S
Amazon AU: www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B01FG5R67S
To celebrate the release of The Handmaid, Shay is giving away a $25 giftcard! ENTER HERE: http://bit.ly/1YKoQ3K
About Shay Savage
Shay Savage lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her family and a variety of household pets. She is an accomplished public speaker, and holds the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster from Toastmasters International. When not writing, she enjoys science fiction movies, masquerading as a zombie, is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers. When the geek fun runs out, she also loves soccer in any and all forms – especially the Columbus Crew, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Savage holds a degree in psychology, and she brings a lot of that knowledge into the characters within her stories.