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The Mercenary’s Tale, Jackson’s Pride, Baymore’s Heir, His Duke’s Gift, Silent Lodge
Series: In the Company of Men, book 1-5
Release date: September 2015 – December 2015
Lynn Lorenz talks arranged marriages.
In Baymore’s Heir, I’ve written a female character – Lady Beth, the intended bride for Jackson.
She’s like most women of this time – without power. Not over herself or her lot in life. Like the joke goes “It’s not a lot, but it’s my life.” Without money, she has no means to change her situation.
Men, even if they were gay, still had more rights and freedom than women.
Lady Beth is in a situation women found themselves in. She’s of noble birth, but not royalty. She has no money of her own. Her dowry has been spent in her first marriage, to a man she didn’t love, but grew to care for, and had a child by him. Like most women, her fate is tied to her husband’s fate and her husband was a fool. He tried to overthrow his older brother, and failed.
His life is forfeit and if not for Beth’s brother’s interference, she and her child would have died also. She’s returned to her brother’s keep, with her daughter, to live out the rest of her life as a “guest” in her brother’s home, once again subject to a man’s whim.
But her brother Basil loves her and wants the best for her. When the letter arrives asking if Basil would be willing to breech this marriage proposal to his sister, he does, not because he wants her gone, but because he wants her happy.
Basil pulled out the second sheet of fine parchment and looked it over. As he read, he sat up, brow furrowed, barely believing the terms. They asked for no dowry. How could that be? He scanned the contract again.
He'd read it correct. He recounted his coffers in his mind, knowing down to the last copper his worth. He wasn't without funds, but he didn't have coins to spare. His lands were not as rich as Baymore's, or his taxes so high he bled his people to death, either.
The terms were more than fair, and the lack of a dowry even better, because he'd paid all her bride's dowry to her first husband and the fool had used it to fund his disastrous attempt at fratricide.
Generous terms, indeed. Any more so and Basil would have consented to marry the man himself. He snorted at that thought, then grinned.
At last, a marriage proposal Beth could not find fault with nor one that would cost him dearly.
No, he doesn’t really think about what happy might look like to someone who’s been “given” to a man she doesn’t know. He just knows his male version. Married. Taken care of. Status.
So he takes it to her. She fully understands her plight.
“Sister, I've received a letter from our cousin Ellen.”
Beth looked up, the needle stilled in her hand. “Ellen? It's been a long time since I've heard that name.” She smiled at some memory and he could see it had been a good one.
“I'm glad to see your joy at her name.” He held up the parchments. “Perhaps what she has written will please you also.”
“Written? To me?” Beth held out her hand, her finger wiggling for the letters like a child reaching for a sweet.
“Not yet.” Basil withheld them. He wanted to broach the subject of marriage with the utmost care. If he knew Beth, and he did, she'd either fly into a rage at the suggestion and boot him from her chambers, or laugh him down the hall.
Now she stared at him with wide brown eyes. As always, a mask of quiet curiosity guarded her true emotions as he sat on the cushioned bench next to her.
“She inquires about your disposition toward a marriage.”
“Must you repeat my words, sister?”
“I must. If you are going to utter such nonsense.” She put down her hoop and needle and folded her arms. Basil watched her gaze take on a small glint of stubbornness and a large amount of wariness.
“This is not nonsense. Nothing to take as such either.” He took a deep breath. “Ellen sends a marriage proposal to you from the Duke of Baymore. With most favorable and generous terms and conditions.” He smiled at his sister. She meant the world to him, and if he could see her safely settled as a duchess, then he will have done his proper duty by her.
Beth realizes this is probably her best offer. She knows her situation, understands it fully, and makes the only decision she can make.
Beth stood and walked to the small bed, kneeled, and brushed a ringlet of flaxen silk from the child's face. “It would break my heart to be parted from her.”
“It would break mine to see you so parted, sister.”
“But the dowry? I won't cost you another copper, Bas.”
“He asks for nothing, just your hand.”
Beth took a deep breath. “If I say no, refuse the offer, Brother, what would you do? You have the power to force me to my bridal bed.” She searched his eyes for the truth. They both knew without her own funds she was no better than his property, to do with as he wished.
“I won't force you, sister. All I can do is point out the benefits of such a union to all of us.” He took a breath and continued. “I don't want you to agree if you don't want this, Beth. But if you think you could be happy…” He paused. “I want only what is best for you and Anne. I would have you here with me always—have no fear about that issue. But a duchess? I have seen Baymore Castle, and it is large and fine. Baymore's lands are rich, as are his coffers. You would want for nothing.”
She seemed to think on his words, then drew herself upright. “Aye. Write the letter. Tell him of Anne. If he accepts her, I will accept him. What choice do I have?” She shrugged. “I would want for nothing.”
“Is that such a bad thing, Sister?”
She sighed. “No, it's not bad. Neither is to be wed again. I would have preferred to choose my own husband, perhaps even find love, but those circumstances never offered themselves to me.” She nodded. “I'll do my duty to you and to Anne.”
He stood, took her hand, kissed it, and left to write the letter for the messenger to deliver.
Trapped. Jackson, Will and Beth. Each by their circumstances and the lack of choices. All of them are in desperate states - Jackson and Will to break the marriage contract, and Beth to do the same, because at long last, she’s fallen in love.
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The Mercenary’s Tale – Drake is a mercenary for hire. He values little other than his sword and his skill. Fighting his attraction to the young men he trains, he refuses to take any on. When Ansel walks into his life, Drake breaks all his rules.
But life for mercenaries is hard, brutal and deadly.
Can Drake take a chance on finding the love he’s denied himself for so long?
Can he have a second chance?
Jackson’s Pride - Jackson has been called to attend his father, Lord Baymore. The man has never claimed Jackson as his son and Jackson believes this might be his father’s intent. He’s left the Duke of Marden’s employ to discover his destiny—to remain a nameless bastard or to claim his father’s name.
When Jackson stumbles across a man, stripped, beaten, and left in a field to die a slow death, Jackson rescues the man. After all, he’s guilty of the same thing—wanting a man.
Will Holcombe gambled and lost. His meeting with a young, willing man went horribly wrong, and now he must pay for it with his life.
Until a man walks up to him in a frozen field and cuts him down.
Jackson is like no one Will has ever met before—a man strong enough to stand with him, perhaps forever.
But Jackson’s on a mission. Will his pride blind him to what his life could be if he chose Will and not his father?
Or will his pride lead him to a fate worse than death?
Baymore’s Heir - Duke Jackson of Baymore finally has all he’s ever wanted—his name, a title, and the man he loves by his side. Lord Will Holcombe couldn’t be happier. He’s Jackson’s lover, best friend, and manages all of Jackson’s affairs. For two years, their life together, although deadly if anyone knew of their forbidden love, has been perfect.
Until Jackson the day when decides the one thing he needs is an heir.
And the one person to find him a wife is Will.
Silent Lodge – Drake and Logan are worried about their friend and captain of the guard, Peter. After the death in childbirth of Peter’s wife, he’s a changed man. Unfocused, lonely, and devastated, Peter needs a new challenge, instead of going through the motions of living.
Logan sends Peter on a mission – to discover Duke Weathersby’s plans for invasion. Logan’s father has a small hunting lodge near the border of their lands, and it has a caretaker. Peter sets off alone, to make camp at the lodge and do some scouting.
But what he finds at the lodge just may be his future. Arvel is a fascinating young man. Red haired, deaf and mute from a fever as a child, he’s been living in the lodge and caring for it for years. It’s a safe haven for him. But he’s not alone. He has a protector, Gareth.
When Gareth, Arvel and Peter are together, sparks fly. Arvel belongs to Gareth, but he wants Peter too. Can Peter join their small family? And if he does, will he always be the third to their couple?
His Duke’s Gift – In this Yuletide story, Duke Logan is preparing the keep for the holiday. Twelve nights of feasting and gift giving to those in his favor. Gifts must be made or bought. Once mercenary Drake struggles to think of just the right gift for his love and liege, and for their sons.
Something isn’t right. A stranger has arrived at the keep and Logan refuses to let Drake into his bedroom at night. Angry and frustrated, Drake fears Logan has lost his love for the mercenary.
When the Twelfth night arrives, and Drake has received no gift, he begins to think he might need to take his son and leave what has become his home.
Categories: Historical, M/M Romance
Publisher: Hartwood Publishing
Cover Artist: Georgia Woods
Ansel lowered himself with effort to the ground and leaned back on his saddle. From across the fire I could tell he still ached. I rummaged in my saddlebag and found the vial of oil I used to keep my leathers supple. It would work for Ansel’s back.
“That’s enough moaning from you. Take off your shirt and stretch out; I’m giving you a rubdown before you become so stiff you can’t move.” It came out more like an order, and Ansel obeyed.
He unlaced his leather vest, removed it, and then with careful motions, pulled his shirt over his head. Smooth chest met my gaze, lean muscles and wide shoulders. Dark hair trailed down his stomach to disappear beneath the strings of his breeches.
“Lay on your belly.” It was not the wisest thing I’d ever done, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. In truth, I wanted to touch him.
He stretched out on his cloak, his smooth broad back to me, arms over his head. There were no scars on his back or on his chest. Hidden scars, indeed.
He turned his head and looked up at me as I stood over him, his eye reflecting the firelight. I kneeled and straddled his hips. As I settled my weight on him, he gave a small grunt.
“Not too heavy for you?” I poured some of the oil from the vial and worked it over my hands.
“No.” He watched as I spread the oil between my fingers.
At the first touch of my hands on his skin, he shuddered. I smiled as his eye caught mine, then he closed it, giving me a ghost of a smile.
My hands roved over his back, lightly at first, then I increased the pressure as I pressed into his muscles, working them like a woman kneads bread dough. His smooth skin glistened in the firelight as my oiled hands glided across. Despite my best intentions, I grew hard as I touched him. Damn me, but I’d longed to do this. For his part, his breathing deepened and I could feel his chest expanding with each inhale. Was he as hard as I was? If so, it must have been uncomfortable to have his cock pressed into the hard ground.
I slid back, moving lower to sit at the tops of his thighs, his round buttocks firm in front of me. I rocked forward and back as I rubbed, pressing my hardness against him, watching for his reaction.
Part of me wanted to go further and part of me wanted him to tell me to stop. He never made a sound or moved.
“Roll over.” I stood, still straddling him.
Ansel pushed himself over, and I gazed down at the bulge in his breeches, long and hard. My eyes traveled to his face. No sign of shame, just that calm, steady gaze of his telling me to continue. He lay there, propped on his elbows, and looked up at my own hard bulge, then he slid flat to the ground.
I went down on my knees and sat across his hips, trapping his rod beneath me, a hard lump against my stones. Pouring more oil into my hands, I began to rub his shoulders, working my way to the sharp planes of his chest. His eyes were shut, and his mouth held that vague smile. I ran my thumbs across his small, dark nipples, resisting urges I didn’t want to give in to.
He hissed in a deep breath and held it as my thumbs played with those sharp points. Circling them first one way, then another, I showed him no mercy. For myself, I could feel my own nipples harden and ache under my shirt. At last, I stopped my torture, and he sighed, letting his breath out in a slow exhale. Damn, I wanted to take one of those sharp points in my mouth and make him moan for me.
Moving lower, I worked my hands over his taut stomach muscles and the tender, purple bruises I’d given him. He winced only once.
I rocked forward on his rod and he moaned. By all the gods, it sounded so good to my ears that I did it again. And again. My sac tightened as my rod swelled.
I lowered my body closer, rocked my hardness against his, and felt his responding push back. Supporting my body with my hands on his chest, all pretense of rubbing sore muscles was gone. I set a steady rhythm and pressed harder.
Ansel’s hands reached up and took my hips, pulling them tighter, his hips answering. He eyes were very dark, wide open, and locked with mine. Sliding over his chest, my hands ran down his arms, locked fingers with his, and pulled them from my hips and over his head. I stretched my clothed body against his bare chest and pumped.
His breath came ragged and his moans louder. My face was mere inches from his. This was it. If I lowered my mouth to his, I’d be kissing a man. Then I thought, we were two layers of cloth from fucking, what was a kiss? Merely damnation.
As if he’d read my mind, his lips parted and he closed his eyes. Unable to resist, I covered his mouth with mine and slammed my rod against him. I thrust faster now, even as my tongue entered his mouth to dance with his tongue, exchanging our tastes. He was as sweet tasting as any woman I’d kissed.
When he groaned into my mouth, I could feel it in my chest. I rocked faster and pressed harder. His legs widened, to give me more room, and I pumped harder. Sucking his tongue into my mouth, I held it captive. A groan ripped his lips from mine as he arched his back, his entire body tensed, and his hands clenched mine. I felt the jerking of his cock beneath me as he spilled and almost joined him.
With a shudder, he opened his eyes and looked into mine.
“Damn.” I smiled.
“Damn.” He smiled and licked his lips. I watched his tongue make a pass over the top and then the bottom, and then disappear inside. I wanted to take it in my mouth again.
Instead, freeing his hands, I rolled off him and sat against my saddle.
He propped himself up on one elbow, dipped his fingers beneath his breeches and pulled them out. They shone in the light, his cream covering them. Gods, I wondered what it would taste like.
“I should clean up.” He stood, went to his bag, rummaged in it, and came up with a bit of cloth. Wiping himself, he dropped the rag on the ground and came back to the fire.
I watched him as he stood in front of me.
“You’re still needing.” He kneeled, locked eyes with me, and pushed my knees apart. My rod strained against my breeches, so any denial would be seen for the lie it was.
When he reached for my strings, I should have said something, such as “Stop” or “Don’t touch me,” but we’d gone too far for false words.
His fingers made short work of the strings and he sat back. Without my shifting, my rod would remain firmly in place. There could be no more pretenses; if I wanted him, I had to move. I took a breath, shifted, pushed my breeches open, pulled the string of my trews, and freed my cock.
It stood tall, thick and long, dark with blood, as I took it in my already slick hand and greeted it like an old friend, with a slow, long stroke. Ansel’s gaze never left my hand as he moved closer.
“Let me.” He reached for my rod, and our fingers touched as he covered my hand with his. Together we glided over my quivering shaft, his fingers picking up traces of oil. Prickles of pleasure danced through my body, settling in my sac.
I slipped my hand from under his, sat back, and watched as his hand pleasured me. I’d held back before he’d released, but now it would be much harder with his hand wrapped around the bared shaft of my cock.
And what pleasure he gave me, like none I’d had before. He knew just how I needed to be touched, just how to stroke long, then fast and short, then long and squeeze the tip. I had to grit my teeth to keep from moaning as each stroke brought me closer to the cliffs of release. I wanted more. I wanted to possess him, own him, and make him mine in every way.
“Lick me.” My voice was quiet, deep, commanding.
Without a word, he lowered his head. I watched as his tongue made a long, slow pass over the blood-swollen tip, pulling a moan from me. He licked under the rim of my rod’s head and I moaned again.
Who possessed whom?
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Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and best-selling author of over 30 gay romances. She lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.
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