eBook Details

Malice Striker

Series: Viking Vengeance , Book 1.0
By: Jianne Carlo | Other books by Jianne Carlo
Published By: Etopia Press
Published: Oct 12, 2012
ISBN # 9781937976736
Word Count: 62,764
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Available in: Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat

Categories: Romance>Historical Medieval Romance>Historical Other Romance>Erotic Romance

Description
Viking Vengeance Book One

Can a mere mortal Viking tame the daughter of a goddess?

When Scotland’s King Kenneth orders his death and kidnaps his sister, the Viking Brökk—the Malice Striker—plans his vengeance: he’ll steal the king’s bastard daughter from Sumbarten Abbey and use her to buy his sister's freedom. But his schemes go awry when his liege lord commands him to wed Skatha—and when he finds five women instead of one at the Abbey, none will claim the King as father.

When the Viking abducts Skatha and her women, she’s bewildered. Why did Brökk seize her? Why does he want her for his wife? She weds him willingly enough when he threatens to kill her companions, but she vows to control her own destiny and escape. For if the Viking discovers her secrets, the laws of his people will force him to cast her aside…or kill her. And even Skatha, daughter of a goddess, might not escape the Viking’s wrath…
 
Reader Rating:  starstarstarstarstar (14 Ratings)
Sensuality Rating:   liplipliplip
Excerpt:
Chapter One



Brökk studied the assembled line of five females. “Which of you is the daughter of Kenneth, King of Scots?”

The women’s garments did naught to differentiate ’tween noble and servant, for they all wore the same shapeless, muddy habit. Each bore the wimple headdress, which made every woman’s face as dull as the gray skies and pissing rain that ran one day into another in the land of the Scots.

Brökk studied the silent women. He knew naught of the princess—how many summers she had seen, if her hair was shorn in the nun’s way, if she was small or large.

One woman, older and stouter than her companions, scowled in his direction. “I am the king’s daughter.”

He glanced at her hands. Calloused fingertips, chipped nails, and the scrapes on one knuckle bespoke menial labor. Fine lines creased the corners of her eyes, and her cheeks had the ruddy stain of one exposed to wind and sun. The woman was a servant and definitely not the get of King Cináed mac Maíl Coluim, nee King Kenneth of Scotland.

He fixed his stare on the four other females.

Storms had raged during the journey from Sumbarten Abbey to his holding, and neither he nor Konáll had been able to spare the time to question the women they’d taken from the holy place.

“Bring the priest.” Brökk addressed the order to his captain, Raki, who inclined his head and vanished through the open doorway.

Brökk pushed back his hand-carved chair, rose to his full height, slid his dagger from the leather sheath attached to his belt, and bounded off the dais. He landed not an arm’s distance from the older woman.

Four of the five females hastily stepped back. The fifth, the smallest of the group, shuffled into place beside the rest moments later. Brökk took one long stride, hooked the older woman’s neck with his elbow, and laid the tip of his blade to the pulse beating in the hollow of her thick throat.

“I ask the four of you for the last time. Which one of you is the daughter of King Cináed mac Maíl Coluim? Think you carefully on your answer, for I will punish mistruth by slitting your servant’s throat.” The woman smelled of lard, apples, and sour sweat. All the color drained from her plump cheeks.

The tallest female stepped forward, fingers twined, knuckles pale, the skin over them stretched taut. “I am Lady Skatha, daughter of Kenneth of Scotland.”

A muffled squeak drew his attention. The two other women each held a hand of the smallest female, the one who had not reacted immediately when he jumped from the dais.

“Cease.” The petite female shook off the other women’s grasp. “That is the Lady Gráinne, Abbess of Sumbarten Abbey. Forgive her deceit. She seeks only to protect me. I am Lady Skatha.” She lifted her chin, but averted her gaze. “The one you threaten is my nurse, Dagrún. She is but a simple woman whose birth is of no import. Pray, set your dagger to my throat, not hers.”

Brökk blinked. He had not expected such courage and plain speaking from one so small and timid in appearance.

She bowed her head and the hideous wimple fell forward, concealing her features. Clasping her hands loosely at her waist, she asked in a low, soft voice, “What want you of me, my lord?”

A smirk chased his lips, but he flattened them and pulled his brows together, giving her his berserker scowl. He chose words designed to discomfit her composure. “Why lady, you are to be my bride.”

She gasped and her jaw sagged for a moment, but with a toss of her wimple, she titled her head and said, “I am to belong to the church, my lord.”

He glimpsed her profile for a mere breath. She had not the lush beauty of his first wife, Etta, but none could label her unattractive.

“Nay. King Harald has ordered us wed. In the Christian way. I give you a choice, lady. Say the marriage vows, or watch your nurse and your companions die.”

She did not flinch as he expected. Nay, her nostrils flared, and rosy color stained the slash of chin not covered by her drab habit.

A commotion at the entrance to the longhouse drew Brökk’s gaze.

Raki shoved the priest through the doorway.

The corpulent monk tripped over his long, brown robe and bumped into the stone wall. Raki prodded him with the blade of his sword. “To the jarl, priest.”

“Lady, I will have your answer now.”

The nurse, Dagrún, trembled ’neath his grasp. She opened her mouth and Brökk placed his dagger’s blade to the nurse’s lip. Herfiligr Bita, Bitter Bite, known far and wide among the Jomsviking for the knife's ability to pierce the toughest hide as if ’twere the creamiest butter, shifted when the woman’s mouth quivered. Her lashes fluttered like a swallow’s wings. She swallowed, slid a sidelong glance at him, and nigh collapsed. Brökk smothered a curse and clamped an arm around her waist. “Do not act the fool. Lady Skatha will suffer for it.”

Her beady eyes widened, but she straightened and nodded.

Lady Skatha took one step forward. “First, I will have your word that no harm will come to Lady Gráinne, Muíríne, Elspeth, or Dagrún.”

Brökk was hard pressed not to react when the sun’s rays illuminated her face to reveal a square chin, ruby-red lips, a straight nose, skin the hue of rich cream, and twin splashes of color riding her high cheekbones. “You have my word, lady.”

Her features were set in lines of a fine temper—arresting violet eyes narrowed, dark brows pinched, mouth pursed. Mayhap she was indeed the daughter of the jötunn goddess, Skaði, for she showed nary a trace of fear. Though how a giantess could spawn such a sprite he knew not.

“You will free them once I have said the vows?”

“Nay, lady. ’Tis too late for the return journey to the Highlands. Your companions will spend the Winter-fylleþ at Bita Veðr and I will escort them back to Sumbarten Abbey in the spring. I give you my word on this. King Harald’s man, Olaf Longface, will also swear on it.”

She shuttered her remarkable violet eyes as her chest rose and fell in quick heaves. No whisper, no low mutter cracked the silent hall. The tension was palpable.

“I will wed you and trust in the Lord you will keep your word. Where or what is Bita Veðr?” Her voice had a musical quality akin to the low notes of a harp. “I understand not your explanation.”

So the Lady Skatha understood no Norse.

He had deliberately spoken to her in Gaelic and used the term the Christians used to describe the season of ice and snow. Then he had switched to Norse.

“Biting Wind. ’Tis the Norse name of this holding.” Brökk’s lips twitched when her eyes widened and the purple irises deepened into a startling shade akin to the deep dusk of a poppy flower. “Wed us, priest.”

Raki prodded the holy man forward. He tottered to a halt in front of Brökk and Lady Skatha. “M-my lord. The church decrees I speak with the lady in private—”

“’Tis not necessary,” she said. “I say the vows freely—”

“Nay, Lady Skatha, I heard the Viking—”

“Priest. Wed us. At once.” Brökk sheathed Bitter Bite, fixed a glare on the monk, and crossed his arms. He towered over the rotund holy man and had to clamp his teeth together to choke back the guffaw building in his belly. The man looked about to piss himself.

Brökk’s scarred face, immense size, and the thin war braids plaited at his temples cast horror into the souls of his foes and allies alike. His berserker battle skills were whispered about in all corners of the known world. Women and children feared him, other warriors sought to avoid him, and none dared risk his ire.

“’Tis customary to read banns, my lord.” The monk wrung his hands.

“Get on with it, priest.”

“My lady?” The priest’s fat jowls grayed.

“Read them now. Thrice.” Lady Skatha gathered her skirts and moved to stand beside Brökk. “Pray, make haste, Father. I fear the Viking grows impatient.”

Brökk snorted. The impertinence of the female, to speak of him as if he were not present. “You will address me as Jarl, or Lord Brökk, lady.”

“As you wish.” She folded her hands. The horrid headdress blocked most of her profile, and Brökk could not discern if the note of scorn in her voice was reflected in her expression.

The ceremony proved mercifully short.

When the vows were said and the priest had pronounced them man and wife, Brökk signaled Raki. “Escort my wife and her ladies to my lodge.”

He turned to his bride, ensnared her delicate hand, and brushed his lips over a shallow vein pulsing on the underside of her wrist. Her skin was like satin, supple as sweet cream, and a hint of lavender reached his nose. He detected not a tremble in her slender fingers. “I will come to you when the sun sets for the consummation, which will be witnessed by all present, including King Harald’s Lovsigemann.

To his surprise, she blinked not an eye. She showed no maiden’s terror, merely twisted her lips in a half sneer and queried him with a lifted brow. “Lovsigemann? I know not what this means.”

Aye, she had the bravery of a Jomsviking. Not a waver in her tinkling voice. He could not repress a twinge of admiration for one so slight of form who did not tremble before him. “King Harald’s law reader, Olaf Longface, who sits in judgment on all matters in this region.” She looked about to argue against the extra witness, so he added, “’Twould provide insult to the emperor, should the king’s lovsigemann not be included.”

Her plump lips thinned.

“My ladies and I have not broken our fast this day, my lord.”

She thought of food when faced with the loss of her maidenhood afore a room of witnesses? Bold, indeed.

“Fear not, my lady. I have no intention of denying you sustenance. Food will be sent to you. Now go and make yourself ready to receive your jarl.”

“As you wish.” She dipped a quick curtsey, her stare focused on the stone floor, before she spun about. The women surrounded her, and he traced their movements as Raki and a band of warriors led the females out of the longhouse.

She was not as he had expected. Defiant, unafraid, and resolute.

“’Tis done.” Konáll, his brother, slapped him on the shoulder. “You are wed.”

“Aye. And I find I have no liking for the all of it.”

“’Tis a conundrum indeed, our king’s command. What intrigue stands behind it we will not know until he is ready to divulge his plans. You could not do otherwise but wed her. Now you needs father an heir. Plow her. Let her breed you three or four sons.”

Brökk scraped his jaw. “’Twill take many horns of ale to fuel my lust.”

“Come. Order food, ale, and wine. We have time enough to get you sotted.”

The brothers walked to the high table. Already seated there was Olaf Longface. The fostered warriors who had the right of the dais hovered behind the burnished oak table. A few squires from nearby holdings surrounded the benches beneath the salt. Brökk spied Moldof, jarl of the holding on the other side of the fjord, engaged in conversation with the tavern keeper and his wife.

Brökk surveyed the longhouse. He had rebuilt the structure with the spoils gained while serving under Harald Bluetooth. ’Twas made of stone and marble carted from Miklagard, the great Eastern city ruled by the Emperor Ioannes Tzimiskes. Brökk and Konáll served both rulers, though they called Harald liege lord.

Watery sunlight seeped through the open windows. ’Twas as fine a day as could be had with the promise of Vetrnætr, the beginning of the winter nights, in the air. Not a cloud marred the blue sky, and the gentle balm of summer winds had long surrendered to the harsh wintriness of the snow falling on the mountain peaks.

“She is comely, your wife. I see no hint of Etta’s guile or spite.” Konáll stepped onto the dais.

“My first wife showed naught of her evil ways for many moons. We will see what happens with this one. I trust no female not of our lineage.” Brökk slumped into one of the two high-backed carved chairs on the platform.

“’Twas an unfortunate union, I am agreed, but do not let it sour you to all women.” Konáll sat and then signaled a kitchen boy for an ale horn.

“Believe you Lady Skatha is the daughter of Skaði? See you any goddess qualities in my new wife? She looks as frail as a birch twig, ready to snap in a strong wind. I see no evidence of the strength of a giantess. My wife is no descendant of a jötunn. I have been deceived.”

“Think you Harald Bluetooth plays you false?”

“Somewhat is amiss. I send word to Harold that I am taking King Kenneth’s bastard daughter to ransom for our sister and then he commands me to wed her? Why not allow me to travel to court to argue against such? How are we to free Hjørdis now?”

Reader Reviews (10)
Submitted By: Cjlps23 on Jan 26, 2014
This was a great read, the characters were believable even to having a blind woman with the Vikings, the story line was intriguing there were plot twists that I just did not see coming, some I did others took me by surprise, the writing keeps you interested from start to finish, in all a book that is well worth reading and I will be looking for more in his series and by this author
Submitted By: cgregory on Jan 20, 2014
I purchased Malice Striker because I was looking for a historical Viking romance. It has a good plot that keeps you reading until the end. I am looking forward to reading more books by Jianne Carlo.
Submitted By: carol55 on Jan 16, 2014
I liked the novelty of a blind heroine in a historical setting, although I found the combination of fantasy with the Viking historical setting odd.
Submitted By: roula on Jan 15, 2014
it was ok eventhough it felt like the story had no destination at all. another mark is that i find it difficult especially in those days for someone to hide something so obvious as blindness. it had some hot scenes (after the first sex scene which was kind of realistic) and a hot viking.
Submitted By: sarahd on Jan 8, 2014
this was a great story. I loved the characters and the way they developed throughout the story. There was a wonderful plot with a little twist at the end. The chemistry was great. I can't wait to read more from this author.
Submitted By: Tigzzz on Jan 5, 2014
Liked this one a lot. Big alpha Viking, liked the story and looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
Submitted By: Tigerlil on Jan 4, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. The story was good and there were no spelling errors. The twist at the end was a great touch. I look forward to reading more from this author. Definitely worth the money.
Submitted By: rsml51 on Oct 23, 2013
I loved everything about this book - from the cover to the author's use of ancient words, for historical accuracy. Her descriptions were so clear that I had no problem envisioning the setting. She struck the perfect balance between drama, suspense, and what turned into a sweet, touching romance. Her characters are realistic and likable, their relationships clearly established. This is not your usual romance novel, but a cut above. I fully intend to buy the rest of the series.
Submitted By: angieia on Sep 30, 2013
Lady Skatha was brave and didn't back down from Brokk. Brokk was a fierce warrior and ruler, but cared for his wife. This book was really good and I didn't expect the twist at the end.
Submitted By: lynniep on Oct 16, 2012
Well worth waiting for. A beautifully told story of love in the viking era with a bit of magic thrown in. Skatha and Brokk are meant to be, but, someone does not agree and Brokk has his hands full keeping Skatha and her ladies safe. Definate keeper. BUY.
 

Malice Striker

By: Jianne Carlo
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