Release Day – Melissa Kendall

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Matronly Duties

by Melissa Kendall


Release Date: May 21 , 2015

Genre:  FICTION / Romance / General / Science Fiction

ISBN e-book:    978-1-61213-369-0

Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


Hundreds of years after an asteroid slammed into Earth and sent it into a new ice age, what remains of the human race lives on in underground sanctuaries. Now, as the bicentennial anniversary of the impact approaches, a new leader prepares to take her place at the head of the government. At least, that’s what she thinks.

Bethanie Greene’s life has been planned out for her since the age of thirteen. Beautiful and intelligent, she’s spent the Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback-eReaderlast twelve years training to become the next Matron of the underground nation of Oceania. But when Bethanie is kidnapped by rogue extremists just six weeks shy of taking office, her world is turned upside down by the handsome stranger who rescues her.

Howard James’ life has been the polar opposite of Bethanie’s. Struggling to survive in a world where those in power wished he didn’t exist, he harbors a deep-seated resentment of the government and all its representatives. Together with his unconventional family, he shows Bethanie a life she never knew was possible, while at the same time, opening her eyes to the injustices of the government she is meant to lead.

But can she trust a stranger? And can a few days change everything she believes and desires? Against all odds, Bethanie must decide if her heart and her duties can coexist.



My body shakes at the thought of what could have happened to me yet again. I’ve heard stories about the slums, and I have to take a few deep breaths to calm myself.

“I was silly running away, I get it. I just couldn’t stay in your home any longer.”

Howard sighs. “Just because my parents raised us with traditionalist values doesn’t mean we are anything like the Trads. You accused us of being a drain on society, but you don’t even know us.”

“You’re right, I don’t. But you don’t know me either. If you did, you would understand why it’s hard for me to understand your way of life. It goes against every law, moral, and convention I’ve been taught. So I can’t be sorry for what I said, even if I’m sorry I ran out of the house.”

Howard takes a deep breath, then exhales long and slow. The expression on his face looks a bit like pity but with a dash of guilt mixed in. “Look, maybe I’ve judged you unfairly based on preconceived notions, but—”

A loud bang echoes outside. Howard glances at me with a panicked look on his face, and then pulls me off the crate onto the floor behind. I sit up, and turn to yell at him, but male voices outside keep my mouth closed. I instead huddle closer to Howard as he puts his hand around my shoulders. He pulls me in until I’m tucked against him.

“Did you see where she went?” a man’s voice asks.

“Nah, she just vanished.” The voice of this one sounds young.

“Damn, the boss isn’t going to be pleased about this.”

The crunch of shoes against pavement indicates they are on the move again. The sounds trail off until they’re no longer audible. I sigh in relief, all the tension fleeing my body.

“Are you okay?’ Howard asks, rubbing my shoulder.Matronly-Duties-3D-Paperback

I glance up, only then noticing how little space is between us. His blue eyes have flecks of grey in them, and there’s a smattering of freckles covering his nose and cheeks. His warm breath tickles my cheek almost like a caress, and his jaw has the barest hint of a five o’clock shadow. He really is captivating.

“I’m fine,” I eventually say, the words a mere whisper.

The butterflies in my stomach return with a vengeance. Howard licks his lips as they turn up ever so slightly in a smile.


I can’t stop the sigh that slips past my own lips. Howard leans forward a little, then moves closer still until his mouth is pressed against mine. I don’t dare move. A zing of something, I’m not sure whether it’s pleasure or fear, shoots through me. His lips are soft and wet, and the sensation is unlike anything I’ve felt before. I can’t even decide if I want him to continue or stop. When he pulls away though, a feeling of disappointment bubbles up inside me.

My first kiss.

Goosebumps cover me from head to toe, and unbidden, my fingers move to my lips. Glancing at Howard, he stares at me for a minute, then moves to sit further away.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I shrug. “It’s okay.”

Howard frowns and then looks across the room.

Part of Matron training is learning not to form close relationships. It doesn’t mean it never happens. I’ve heard the odd story here and there from the other women, and I realise that’s probably what Gail was trying to tell me at breakfast the other day. But in all honesty, I can’t remember the last time I had real physical contact with anyone, above all with a man.

We sit in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. Tension rolls off Howard in waves.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Come on,” Howard whispers. “We need to get to the house before those guys come back.”


Melissa Kendall

Melissa Kendall is an almost forty-year-old mother of two from Perth, Western Australia, the second-most isolated capital city in the world. Predominantly a stay-at-home mum, she works a few hours a week as a software support consultant. She has always loved to read and write, and spent most of her teens writing poetry and short stories. Over the years, daily life got in the way and she lost the passion for it, but after the birth of her first child, Melissa discovered e-books and her interest in writing rekindled. She is now the author of two published short stories. Matronly Duties is her first full-length novel.


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Teaser Tuesday – Lorenz Font



Series: The Gates Legacy
Author: Lorenz Font
Genre: Romance / Paranormal
Release Date: June 4, 2015


Available from: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and TWCS PH


It was when he brushed his hand down her cheek that she felt his tenderness firsthand. It was a slow caress she hadn’t expected from a man with so much strength in him. Isidora leaned into his touch.

“I know you won’t.” She closed her eyes. If this was as far as he’d allow himself to go, it was enough for her.

11204881_697597943701247_3576611050044577774_n“Issy, you have no idea what your offer is doing to me.” Cyrus’ breathing grew ragged.

“What am I doing to you?” She opened her eyes just in time to see the hunger etched in his face….

“You make me want to rip off your clothes. Stop teasing a hungry dog with a big bone.”

In this quiet moment, Cyrus was all she wanted. The air grew electric, and the magnetism between them was undeniable, so strong she could touch it. …

“You’re going to kiss me.”

“Damn right I will.” He closed the small gap and crushed his mouth against hers, his kiss hard and filled with urgency.

Issy rode the tide, tasting, stroking, and feeling the jolt of life from his lips. She pressed her body closer, but he ended the kiss abruptly. Way too soon.

“You better run, little girl.” He turned away.

“I’m not going to run. Take what is freely given to you.” She touched his shoulder, caressing the taut muscle.





Lorenz Font discovered her love of writing after reading a celebrated novel that inspired one idea after another. She is currently enjoying the buzz from her vampire novels Hunted, Tormented and Ascension, Books 1-3 of The Gates Legacy Series, Feather Light, an erotic romance, Indivisible Line, a romance thriller and Pieces of Broken Time, a military romance.

Lorenz’s perfect day consists of writing and lounging on her garage couch, aka the office, with a glass of her favorite cabernet while listening to her ever-growing music collection. She enjoys dabbling in different genres, with an intense focus on angst and the redemption of flawed characters. Her fascination with romantic twists is a mainstay in all her stories.

Lorenz lives in California with her husband, children, and two demanding dogs. She divides her time between her full-time job and her busy writing schedule.



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Teaser Tuesday – Jeanne McDonald


The Truth Be Told (Book 3)

Series: The Truth in Lies Saga
Author: Jeanne McDonald
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Cover Design: Jada D’Lee Designs
Expected Release Date: May 18, 2015


Jeanne McDonald is an author, a mother, a wife, a student of knowledge and of life, a coffee addict, a philosophy novice, a pop culture connoisseur, inspired by music, encouraged by words, and a believer in true love. When she’s not spending time with her family, she can be found reading, writing, enjoying a great film, chatting with friends or diligently working toward her bachelor’s degree in literature. A proud Texan, Jeanne currently resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with her family.



cd828-blurbFrom the moment Andrew Wise and McKenzie Evans first met, they tried to fight the magnetism that pulled them together. No matter how hard they struggled with their feelings, their love was a force so strong that neither of them could deny it.
The news of Olivia Hamilton’s pregnancy, and the understanding that Drew is the father, led McKenzie to flee with the hope of rectifying her secret betrayal of falling in love with her best friend’s boyfriend. However, when Drew showed up and declared his undying love for her, McKenzie could no longer deny the truth. She and Drew were destined for each other.
McKenzie now has no choice but to face Olivia in order for her and Drew to move on with their lives together. Secrets and lies may have kept them apart, but now, in the light of the truth, their legacy shines as pure as their love.
For as long as Drew can remember, there has always been tension between him and his father, Jonathan. This time is proving no different. Since sharing the truth of his past with McKenzie, Drew is emboldened by her unwavering love and acceptance of the man he is. He’ll do anything necessary to protect the woman he loves and the life he’s come to understand she deserves. With Jonathan and Olivia teamed together to rip them apart, Drew and McKenzie, along with the aid of some unexpected allies, must join forces to overcome the obstacles that will inevitably come their way.
In this much anticipated final installment of The Truth in Lies Saga, Drew and McKenzie will unite together to conquer the past, face the future, and uncover the truth in lies that threaten to destroy them. Love brought them together and love will set them free.



“Wow,” I muttered, unable to mask my disappointment. “I guess I missed a lot.”

Gavin reached over the seat and patted my cheek. “Nothing you can’t get caught up on quickly.”

“I guess.”

Drew wrapped his arm around my shoulders, drawing me in close to him. “Honestly, Baby, you haven’t missed much. I’m happy to have you with us, Mickie. I can’t express how much we all missed you.”

If he only knew that wasn’t what really had me upset. This was my secret to keep. A jealousy I would always have to endure. And maybe one day, Drew and I might start our own family.

“Thank you.”

I rested my head back on his shoulder and closed my eyes. He smelled so inviting, and his gentle touch was very relaxing. So relaxing, in fact, I fell asleep. I was awakened by the sound of the intercom coming to life.

“Ladies and Gentleman, we are beginning our final descent to Boston Logan International. It’s now nine twenty-three P.M. local time, and the temperature is currently eighty-one degrees. We have certainly enjoyed having you aboard today, and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you again for flying Skyway Airlines, and have a wonderful evening.”

My stomach lurched as the plane started to descend. I stretched, wiggling my toes inside my sneakers.

“How long was I out?”

“Not too long. You looked so peaceful. I couldn’t bring myself to wake you.”

“You never could.”

“I enjoy watching you sleep. It comforts me.” Drew brushed his knuckles across my cheek. “You comfort me.”

I leaned into his hand, content to feel the warmth of his skin and the love in his touch.

Drew placed a soft kiss to my lips. A bright smile appeared as he pulled back and glanced out the window. “Look, Baby.”

I shifted forward to look out the window. Such beauty and history lay out before me as we lowered closer and closer to the ground. The evening glow of the moon danced over the water, and buildings full of history towered above the trees, beckoning me to explore their mysteries.

“It’s gorgeous.”

He leaned in and whispered tenderly in my ear, “Welcome to my home, Baby.” I turned my head to find the most amazing man staring back at me. His eyes were filled with so much love that it took my breath away. He cupped my face in his hands and kissed me.

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Cover Reveal

Cover Reveal: The Single Game
By Amanda Black
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In this third, stand-alone installment of Amanda Black’s Apartment Novels series, sparks fly during a sexy party game.When Eden Foster’s parents tell her they’re moving from the suburbs of Chicago to the tiny farm town of Aledo, Illinois, Eden is crushed. That is, until she runs crying to her jock boyfriend, who she finds on top of her so-called best friend. Moving’s not looking so bad anymore.
The Single Game is the latest addition to the Apartment Novels series, which began with Lily and Ethan in The Apartment and The Blank Canvas.

Want more? Follow Amanda on her Blog, Facebook and Twitter! And make sure to preorder The Singe Game today!

Want a peek?

So, I’ve been working on a new story. I wasn’t expecting to be writing this, to be honest, but my sister and I were talking it out recently (after having consumed some excellent chocolate) and I found a story in a person I had not considered writing for.

The story I’m now working on takes place in the same universe as my Éire’s Viking Trilogy. It is not meant to be a fourth book in a three-book series; it’s meant to stand on its own. We’ll see how that goes, shall we? The setting begins in Éire of the mid-9th Century and will move to Nordweg, as a young man seeks to learn about his father’s people.

His father was Tuirgeis. If you haven’t yet heard of him, check out my trilogy. He was a real person, but his son is entirely fictional. You can meet him here:

“Rúadhán! You great amadán! Get yourself on your feet so I can see you.” Her voice was nearer, its clarity unhindered by breeze or distance. He guessed she was within view if only he stood. So, reluctantly, he did.

blog copy tiarnan“Here I am, Charis.” He kept his voice low, for he didn’t wish to frighten the hiding hound any further. Pushing himself out of the tall grass to his feet, he jerked his chin up, knowing that his brighter-than-fire hair would do the rest.

The healer lifted a brow. “What do you think you’re doing out here?”

“I’m a man! I’ve been blooded in battle. I’ve taken Communion. I’ve done all I need to do to prove myself, Charis. Except to you.”

She snorted and made a deprecating gesture with one hand. “Rúadhán, I’ve been breathing air longer than anyone I know. You don’t have to prove your manhood to me. You just have to prove your sense.”

This is going to be a romance, and as it develops, I’ll share the heroine with you, too. 🙂 She might surprise you.

Explore Sci-Fi with TWCS




This May, TWCS is paying tribute to the Sci-Fi genre in honor of the EPIC Star Wars series and LEGENDARY The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, amongst others…



LEGACY OF A DREAMER, Allie Jean, Paranormal



Chantal Breelan is plagued by horrible nightmares too realistic to ignore. Her past has been a mystery, and the foster system isn’t providing any answers. Starting a new life alone at eighteen is a challenge, especially when things that go bump in the night appear out of the shadows, and her dreams begin to breach reality. Darkness surrounds her from all sides, but is it only evil that hides in the shadows, or are the answers to her past lingering just beyond?




ZOMBIFIED, Maggie LaCroix, Paranormal Fantasy



Monsters know their place: vampires are sexy; zombies just decompose.  But Maggie La Croix’s Zombified conjures up an entirely different kind of undead raised by good old-fashioned Voodoo. Take Henri—still gorgeous, over one hundred years after his death. And now a hurricane has set him free from a curse.

Enter Josie, a reporter with her eyes on Henri. But falling for a man without a heartbeat could get her more than a broken heart. It could get her zombified.



 THE SIX, K.B. Hoyle, Fantasy



Darcy Pennington feels like she is an insufferably average thirteen-year-old, but when a change in her dad’s job forces her to attend Cedar Cove Camp, she unwittingly stumbles upon a magical gateway. Along with five other teenagers, she will travel to a world called Alitheia. The “arrival of the Six” was prophesied long ago, but will she have what it takes to save Alitheia?




MORE, T.M. Franklin, Paranormal



Haunted by terrifying nightmares and certain she’s being watched, college student Ava Michaels finds an unlikely ally in Physics tutor Caleb Foster. But Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he’s not entirely human, and he’s not the only one.

Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bent on Ava’s capture, and possible extinction. As Ava fights to survive, she learns the world’s not what she thought.

It’s a little bit more.




THE SILVER CRESCENT, Debby Grahl, Paranormal



An ancestor’s tale of betrayal, murder, and a stolen fortune in silver leads Elise Baxter to Max Holt’s Victorian inn.

She is reluctantly, though irresistibly, attracted to Max. Leery of loving again, Max lets passion overrule caution, tumbling them into an erotic encounter.

Guided by ghosts and opposed by an evil presence, the couple searches for the treasure. But there are others who will stop at nothing to unlock the mystery of the Silver Crescent.



 THE MEMORY HEALER, Julie Filarski, Paranormal



When Beth Montgomery reluctantly agrees to carry out a psychic assessment of Carrington House, she is transported to another era, where she sees a date on a calendar that fills her with dread.

Back in the present time and sensing an eternal bond with the irresistible Dr Matthew Jamieson, she wonders whether he was once the darkly handsome but unfaithful Samuel Methven. Beth must regress to the tragic events of 1895 to learn the truth.



HUNTED, Lorenz Font, Paranormal



Disease is ravaging the vampire community in New York City’s underworld. Harrow Gates is sick, alone, and hunted. When Pritchard Tack offers him a new beginning, he is in no position to refuse.

Jordan is a young vampire whose only focus is revenge. In her search for her family’s killer, she meets a man who threatens to pull her heart away from her sworn mission. Is love strong enough to override her thirst for vengeance?




MOUNTAIN CHARM, Sydney Logan, Paranormal



“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;
Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”

At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would blossom into a beautiful and gifted woman who would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the sacred ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s failing health have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. As her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.



REDEMPTION, Lindsey Gray, Paranormal



Life is for living. Afterlife is a chance at redemption. As the only remaining female vampire in existence, Lily attempts to make her way towards her ever after. But with best friend Becca, new beau Ian, human husband Ryan, Archangel Peter, and a host of demons all standing in the way of Lily’s chance at a peaceful eternity, how can she possibly survive?




CONVERGENCE, J.D. Watts, Paranormal



Daniella Rossi is a nineteen-year-old college student who sees the world quite differently than those around her. From infancy, she was aware of the beings that walked among her kind who were not like them, as well as her own personal Guardian who watched over her. Dani always knew she was different, but she never dreamed the full scope of her importance. When a new male Guardian comes to replace her lifelong friend and companion, will Dani be able to accept him as she deals with a world full of the other Children of Creation, Angels, both good and evil?




OBVIOUS CHILD, Warren Cantrell, Sci-Fi



In 2015, Sam Grant is chosen to take part in a contest that will choose the world’s first time traveler. There’s just one problem—Sam doesn’t want anything to do with the contest. Yet his deliberately profane public appearances and sabotaged interviews only boost ratings. Now stuck, Sam must plot how he’ll get out of the contest, or if he should embrace it all and become the most famous person in history.





GHOSTWRITER, Lissa Bryan, Paranormal



Unemployed, with her savings dwindling, Sara Howell thinks things are looking up when she lands a ghostwriting job and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.

Strange things happen, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left. When she finds an old trunk of Seth’s letters, she delves into a world she never imagined, filled with love and a family curse it seems only she can break.




THE STARS ARE FALLING, Michelle Birbeck, Paranormal



Jenny’s life revolves around surviving university, watching the stars, and staring at her housemate, Dale. But as the night sky glows with the light of falling stars, Jenny’s classes and crush seem unimportant. The Stars are retaking Earth, saving mother nature by eliminating the problem. Together, Jenny and Dale can save the world and the human race, but surviving long enough to convince the Stars of that is perilous and may kill them both. (I reviewed this book here!)








When the ordinary life of Virgil Blaine crosses the path of the even more ordinary Doug Coulthard, it sets off a series of extra-ordinary events. Doug Coulthard is a Filing Clerk and the President of the Unpublished People’s Poet’s Party –Political Unit (UPPPPU) where a catastrophe has just happened; two of his long time members have been published. The UPPPPU goes on a recruiting drive by distributing leaflets, one of which finds its way into Virgil Blaine’s pocket. Virgil Blaine, who is a slight poet himself, attends one of the meetings where he meets Forward Slash who offers Virgil Blaine a job. The offer comes with two things Virgil Blaine has never had; a job and a car and on a whim he accepts. The problem is, through no effort of his own, his position is suddenly elevated. Virgil Blaine says the job is ‘messing with his DNA – Deliberate Non-Achiever’ and he misses his old life and so hatches a plan to get it back…



SEBASTIAN AND THE AFTERLIFE, William j. Barry, Paranormal


Sebastian, an average seventeen-year-old boy, has just paid this debt. He awakes in a surreal world somewhere between mortal life and the afterlife, where the Grim Reaper rules and his loyal agents maintain the law. But not all is peaceful in this mystical realm. Axis Red and his soul pirates threaten the future of all who dwell there.

Sebastian soon finds himself at Sapentia, a high school for the departed. There he makes new friends but longs for his lost love, Sarah, who is still alive in the mortal world. Some things are forbidden; some lines cannot be crossed. What will Sebastian risk to be close to Sarah again?
Continue the adventure with Sebastian and the Afterlife Book II – Agents of the Reaper



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Two Historical Fiction Authors Talk VIKINGS – The Season Finale

This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

The Shieldmaidens of History (Protecting the Innocent from Anachronisms) welcome you back to our review series on the History Channel show Vikings. 

146a6-lissa-bryanWhat a season this has been on Vikings! The History Channel has totally delivered once again as Ragnar & Co. raided Paris. The finale was a fitting end for this year—and a killer tease for next season! My cohort in history geekness, Lissa Bryan, whose Tudor love story Under These Restless Skies is a delight you should read, and I will be sharing our thoughts on this final episode: The Dead. As always, Lissa’s comments are in blue.

Lissa: Wow that was a finale!

Sandi: It really was. A roller coaster of an episode. I was still gasping by the end.​

L: Rollo and Lagertha are talking and they say they can’t believe Ragnar has really become a Christian. “Not in his heart,” Lagertha insists. She points out that Rollo was baptized, but he says the gods protected him from the Christian magic. They won’t protect Ragnar, and it’s all because of Athelstan poisoning Ragnar’s mind. Behind him, the other men grumble. A Christian can never be king of the Vikings.

S: The around-the-camp conversations on this I felt were really authentic sounding. Often, we forget there are many people surrounding protagonists in life as in fiction. Here, Michael Hirst (as he has so often) nailed it with the discontented gossip that skirled around the Viking encampment.​

Credit to

Credit to

L: The Franks deliver the wagon full of treasure to Ragnar’s camp and say that they’ve held up their end of the bargain. It’s time for the Vikings to do the same and leave. After the troops depart, the Viking warriors swarm the cart to start divvying up the loot. I think we both had the same thought at this scene – they wouldn’t have dared been so grabby if Ragnar was there to divide it up in an orderly, fair fashion.

S: Yep. I was rather appalled that someone didn’t think to handle this better, but this early on in the Viking Era, there weren’t a lot of protocols in place, yet. I would have expected fighting and so on, as well. ​

L: Björn goes into his father’s tent to tell him the treasure is there, but Ragnar says he doesn’t care. He looks awful, pale and sweat-soaked, trembling in his cot. He’s dying, he says. He rolls over and clutches at his gold cross and says at least he’ll see Athelstan again.

S: I am firmly convinced that Ragnar is dying at this point. Really, the man’s a mess. He’s been holding on for weeks, but yeah.  I’m still not sure that we’re seeing dysentery, here, as a cause for his debilitation. The symptoms aren’t entirely consistent. ​I believe, too, that his wish to see Athelstan is sincere. However, I’m also sure that his actual thoughts on the matter are more like what we heard when he was alone and burying Athelstan on the hill where they prayed together last season. He said, then, that he was pretty sure the Christian God wouldn’t want to see him. And this, I think, is something to hold on to as the finale unfolds.

vikings_s3e10_detail-EL: The king of the Franks is in church, giving thanks for his “victory” over the Vikings.

S: I think he plays this like a politician. And the courtiers appear to eat it up. As well as how they treat Gisla. Which, as I mentioned last night, would give me the willies. I’m not a touchy-feely person.

L: I loved the beautiful set and the air of authenticity, except for the fact Charles is wearing his crown. I don’t know why TV and movies have royalty wearing those things around all day, every day. Boot sole file, as you said. Same thing with Gisla’s hair loose and uncovered, but I’ve given up protesting that one. Actresses want their shiny tresses on display, after all, and those heavy veils are so unbecoming.

S: Yep. We do, on occasion, have to sacrifice historical fitness to drama. But overall, the producers of this show get a lot very, very right. Clive Standen, who plays Rollo, has mentioned the care to use the languages of the time, too. Which I know you and I both geek out over!

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

L: Gisla is a little snarky about the so-called victory and says they paid the Vikings to go away. Her father more or less ignores her and says he wishes his grandfather, Charlemagne, could be here to see this glorious day. I will have to search the internet diligently for an eye-roll gif that will appropriately express my emotions at the moment.

S: Politician time again.​ When one cannot produce proof of one’s own awesomeness, one should remind everyone of your awesome antecedents.

L: In the camp, the Vikings are celebrating their newfound riches. Floki sees Helga and tries to talk to her, but Helga is having none of it. She still hasn’t forgiven him for killing Athelstan. She stomps away. It seems their relationship is not going to be repaired this season. She has been so patient and understanding with him, but she has her limits, and it seems Floki has finally crossed them. It will be interesting next year to see if he can find his way back to her after all that has happened.

S: Those who know him best will be of two minds, I’m sure. On the one hand, Floki is known to be in communion with their gods, so his actions might be sanctioned on that score. Many do sympathize with him to a degree. On the other hand, he murdered their king’s best friend. How is that a display of love and loyalty?

So I remind everyone for a final time this season that one saying of the Northmen was that a wise man waits to take his revenge. That was considered praiseworthy. We’ll see what happens next season with this issue.​

vikings s3e10 bjorn at ragnar bedsideL: Ragnar is talking to Björn. He tells him that soon, Björn may find himself in the position of having to assume leadership. But when he does, he needs to make sure he leads with his head, not his heart. Ah, many times over the last three seasons, we’ve seen Ragnar fight that particular battle within himself! He then tells Björn he has a job for him to do – a job that only Björn can do.

S: This is a pretty neat set-up for Ragnar. Björn has long understood that he’s the heir-apparent (as such things go in this time and place) to Ragnar’s leadership. He would have to be vetted and approved and followed by the men, but he’s in a good place for it. To be given a Super Secret Important Job is attractive for such a man, to be sure, no matter what it is that he’s being asked to do. And the viewers don’t know, then, what that job is!

Ragnar is also, as you said, speaking from experience that has nothing whatsoever to do with his own private plotting. He wants his son to be successful—in fact, the Seer has said his sons will be vastly famous—and he is trying to be a good dad in passing along wisdom.

vikings s3e10 sandi tweet lead with head

Perhaps he has forgotten the arrogance of young men everywhere. Wisdom is often not appreciated until one has acted without it.​

vikings s3e10 count odo bdsmL: Next, we see Count Odo getting the attentions of a grateful Frankish lady named Therese who is happy he “saved” the city from the invaders. He invites her back to his Red Room of Pain to express her gratitude properly. Seriously … He has cuffs suspended from chains and various whips, which he is happy to explain to her as inflicting varied levels of discomfort. I am surprised he didn’t pull out an NDA and a contract for her on the spot.

S: This really, really puzzled me as to why it was included, here. There was no real resolution to my confusion in this season, either. I am wondering if the #50ShadesofOdo tag will resurface next season. Was this all about titillation for the audience or is there a secret history of this man somewhere? Is the Therese here also the Theodrate de Troyes who later becomes Mrs. Count Odo? (éodrate-de-Troyes/6000000006727888762)

L: BDSM takes on a whole different dimension in an era in which a man was encouraged to employ corporal punishment on his wife, doesn’t it? In any case, he indicates that the person he really wants to submit to him is Gisla.

S: That was just wrong. I mean, sure, contracts and safe words (he mentioned it but also said he’d rather not have them – shudder) weren’t in play here, but this was really, really odd. *Note: I have no objection to Safe, Sane, and Consensual, understand. But my impression is that Odo isn’t all that concerned with these things.

Not the Gisla aspect, though. I can totally see him wanting her at his mercy. He’s taken a lot from her. I’m thinking his “playtime” with her would be punitive in nature. ​

vikings s3e10 helga flokiL: Helga and Floki speak one last time. She sees him on the beach working and asks him what he’s doing. He says Ragnar has asked him to build one last boat for him.

S: She is here trying to build a bridge back to her husband, however angry she might be. This bodes well for their future, I’d like to think.​

L: It’s been a month, but the Vikings are still camped outside of Paris. The Franks send someone to find out why – Odo the Odious, who else? – and Björn tells him Ragnar is to ill to be moved. Odo asks to see him, and Björn leads Odo in to where Ragnar is lying, ​in even worse shape than we saw him before. Björn tells them that Ragnar’s dying wish is to be given a Christian burial in their cathedral, and they won’t leave until it’s done. Odo agrees, as long as the Viking men accompanying his burial retinue are unarmed.

S: So, what one might wonder here is if the mere notion that The Barbarian King became a Christian was enough to bring down these barriers between the people that they would willingly open their city for the burial. Does this speak to their faith and how protected they feel by it or is this mere expediency? “Give the heathens what they want so they’ll go away?”​

vikings s3e10 ragnars coffinL: The next scenes were hard to watch. Björn tenderly fits a coffin lid over his father’s still form, and then goes outside the tent. Inside, on its bier, the coffin is a beauty. It’s crafted in the shape of a ship, with beautifully shaped planks and a carved prows. There are crosses carved into the lid (I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume Floki didn’t make that part!)

S: Ha! Who else would have carved crosses into it? Would Floki have done it if Ragnar insisted? Maybe he did, remembering the pain Athelstan experiences or something?​

L: As I mentioned last night, Vikings loved to bury their dead in ship-like vessels whenever possible. The very rich or blue-blooded might actually be buried in a ship itself, like the famous Oseberg Ship burial ( Those of lesser means tried to replicate it as best they could. The poor might put an outline of stones shaped like a ship around an earthen grave, for example.

S: It really is a gorgeous coffin​. “One final boat” indeed.​

L: The Vikings are gathered around Ragnar’s tent, standing motionless in the cold rain. Lagertha crouches down, her eyes swollen with tears. Björn says to her that she can go inside now.

S: Björn, here, is playing it pretty well. Especially since it’s raining – I think that makes his role easier.​

vikings s3e10 lagertha at coffinL: Lagertha touches the coffin and speaks to her dead ex-husband, telling him of all the things she hopes they’ll do together in Valhalla. They’ll live, they’ll drink, they’ll love. Emotion chokes every word. We next see Rollo sitting by his brother’s coffin, his head resting against the wood as he speaks to him, and confesses his life-long jealousy. He feels that the gods always favored Ragnar. But he never thought Ragnar would go first in this regard.

S: These two moved me during their farewell speeches. The passion is still there between Ragnar and Lagertha—it always has been, really. And Rollo, too, is so honest and open. Very casual, though. Sitting as if chatting with his brother. This could be interpreted a couple of ways, I think. One, he feels very close to Ragnar at that moment and is comfortable with being honest and treating a coffin-closure as an everyday conversation without tension. Two, he isn’t too emotional as he’s already planning for a future without his brother. Without feeling lesser than or anything. Hard to say for sure.​

vikings s3e10 floki at coffinL: Floki enters next. Bitterness coats every word as he spits out angry denunciations of Ragnar for betraying him and the gods. But there is pain there, too.

S: There really is. A very emotional time for him. I can’t help but feel for him, even as I’m still mad about what he did to Athelstan.​

L: Ragnar’s casket is carried by his men into the cathedral, where the nobles of Paris have also gathered for the funeral. Nice of them to show the courtesy, I suppose. Gisla is shooting daggers out of her eyes, and has a look of disgust pursing her features, so I’m assuming her father forced her to attend.

S: I very much appreciated the contrast in processionals, here. Outside, with the Northmen, there was one kind of music, the round shields of their warriors and shield maidens, chanting. Then within the walls, there is an abrupt transfer of theme. Elongated shields with crosses on them, priests replace shield maidens, and there is prayer and incense as they walk through the surprisingly clean streets of Paris. (Come on, we know those streets were just awful with offal at this time period. Unless someone opted to clean?)​

L: The coffin is laid down and censed, and the priest sprinkles it with holy water as he starts the words of the burial mass. Suddenly, the lid flies off and Ragnar pops up, still quite ill, but in the land of the living yet. He had been lying on a pile of weapons, which he distributes to his warriors as the crowd stands there and stares in shock. Ragnar takes a blade and slays the priest as the crowd gasps in shock. He grabs Gisla around the neck and drags her back toward the hallway (where the Rolling Barrel of Doom has apparently been removed.)

vikings s3e10 ragnar livesS: This. Was. Awesome. Okay, so we knew this was a possibility, right? And SagaThingPod on Twitter said she was thinking Ragnar wasn’t dead yet, too.​

Ragnar could have killed any number of people, but killing the priest (bishop? I’m kind of thinking it was a bishop due to the rank not only of the Frankish king but also of Ragnar) made a statement about where his loyalties actually were. Quite strongly, in fact.

His choice of hostage was brilliant, though Gisla herself seemed less so after her capture.

vikings s3e10 bjorn ushers vikings inL: His men open the doors to show the rest of the Viking horde waiting to come in. Ragnar looks back at them and then at the princess squirming in his arms. He releases her and she just stands there, gaping at him. He gives her a “go on, shoo!” motion, but she still stands there, jaw hanging down. He has to give her a hard shove before she starts running back toward the church. After she is out of the way, Björn throws up his arms to signal for the men to storm in and they swarm the city of Paris.

S: Her utter “What??” expression cracked me up. Normally, Gisla is vastly self-possessed and in control. Take her into an unfamiliar environment, she flails, apparently.

Nice coordination between father and son as Björn has the gates opened to the Viking Horde. A spool-free invading force is unleashed!​

vikings s3e10 bjorn catches ragnarL: Ragnar stumbles outside into his son’s arms and collapses to his knees. He seems to have used up the last of his energy with this “Surprise, I’m only MOSTLY dead!” routine.

S: Björn’s job, here, was to wait for his father so he could get the ailing man away, it seems. So he didn’t get to stride in with the invading force.  ​

L: The sack of Paris is a success. The Vikings are loaded with loot. But Lagertha is pretty steamed that Björn let her think the love of her life was dead. Björn tells her and Rollo that he did only as his father – the king – commanded.

S: Oh, yeah. That was good. I can bet that there will be repercussions on that one into next season. Björn is projectile-proof, here. That the ruse worked so well and so many of them were enriched thereby can only make him moreso. And Ragnar’s legend grows.

As if the man himself didn’t plan that!​

L: They decide to head home, and take Ragnar with them, but they’ll come back in the spring. They leave Rollo in charge of a force of Viking warriors to keep up their threatening presence outside of the gates.

S: Okay. There was a moment in here that was a bit odd. Rollo and Björn have a silent eye-conversation while this is being decided. Rollo says he’ll stay and….silence. Then, out of the blue, his nephew agrees and so does everyone else. Björn did, by the way, do a good job of chairing this meeting. He seems to be coming more into his own all the time.​

How will this play out in the future?

L: It made me think of one of those horrid komodo ​dragons that poisons its prey with the bacteria in its bite and then just lies there to wait, watching with pitiless eyes until the critter dies. The citizens of Paris would have to look over the walls at their own doom, knowing there was nothing they could do to chase these merciless invaders away.

S: It was very tense. The Parisians were safe, but under the eye of the Barbarian Horde, so what could they do? And if the Vikings could take ransom money and STILL INVADE (bad form, guys, bad form) then what did this mean regarding the safety of their citizenry?​

L: Inside the church, the Frankish king is slumped on the floor. Gisla tells him to get up because it’s all over now. I said out loud, “Don’t worry, there aren’t any kingly duties for you to fail at right now.” The king looks at the body of the priest in horror and says the cathedral has been desecrated. Gisla isn’t very impressed with the job her father has done, to say the least.

S: ​Is anyone?

L: That night at dinner, her father notes the Viking men still camped outside and realizes it means they’re in for more pillaging in the near future. He says he has decided he must give them something more precious than gold or silver… He’ll give them his daughter in marriage.

S: Did you note the huge appearance of fat tears that spilled onto his cheeks as he said this? Still, the notion was not unheard of. They should both have been thinking it over from the moment they saw there were men of rank among the Northmen.​

L: Gisla throws what can most charitably be called a hissy fit. She says in an impassioned heat that she would kill herself for Paris, but she will not marry one of those barbarians. She claims Odo is behind this, because she refused to marry him.

S: What happened to Miss I-Totally-Own-This, anyway? How old is she, twelve? No. I can’t see an historical princess pulling this stunt in front of her father. In front of her maids, maybe. Because a girl has to vent somewhere.

L: I  joked with you last night that I would have to create a Princess Gisla “I forgot how to princess” meme. She is shocked, shocked that her father didn’t consult her about the marriage.sub vikings tweet princess lissa

S: This was brilliant of you, by the way. :)​

vikings s3e10 rollo gets asked to wedL: When the marriage was offered to Rollo, he was given the promise of lands, a title, money, and the hand of the princess. Rollo asked what he’d have to do in return, and he was told he would have to defend Paris against his brother.

We’ve seen in this series that Ragnar and Rollo have no problems making false promises to their enemies. Rollo has had his struggles with Ragnar’s authority in the past. What do you think? Do you think he is giving a false oath in order to gain the keys to the kingdom, which he will hand over to Ragnar, or do you think he has finally been tempted too strongly to resist?

S: I am thinking that Rollo will play it all sincere and his men will back him because they’ve seen how he has supported his brother time and again. Even if Ragnar is dying, there is Björn, and the relationship between uncle and nephew remains intact.

False oath? Rollo? Of course it’s a possibility. History shows us a Rollo who does become a Christian – but history was written by the victors. The dirty truth of the matter might be hidden in bloodied flagstones in a church.

L: Gisla seems surprised to discover that being a princess entails marrying the man your father picks without considering your opinion on the matter. Was this chick dropped in from another movie where a modern American girl discovers that she’s actually royalty? Because she seems to have no idea what royalty has been doing for most of human history. The king reminds her that she has to obey him not only as a father, but also as her emperor.

But it gets worse.

We next see them bringing in Rollo for the wedding, and Gisla stands up and goes on a rant in front of God-and-everyone, insulting Rollo as a “filthy pagan animal.” “I’m a princess of the blood,” she says, “not a cheap whore.” She vows she would rather be burned alive or give her virginity to a dog than allow Rollo to lay a hand on her.

S: I was appalled. No one said anything to her. No one laughed a little and made excuses. And the whole time, Rollo is just watching with that kind of open expression on his face.​

Vikings-Gallery-s3e10 rollo in palaceL: Rollo’s response is to say “bonjour” to the emperor and grin.

Sacking the city = Several hundred dead Vikings.Cost of a coffin = Several silver pieces

Dat grin? = Pricelessvikings s3e10 rollo grin

S: And can we give props to the man for even TRYING to learn Frankish? Just a word or two? It showed a consideration for the lady in question, the option of a Frankish lordship, and the people themselves that no one seems to appreciate. That irked me. Because here, I’m liking Rollo.​

vikings s3e10 you killed athelstanL: The episode ends with Ragnar still clinging to life as he lays on the deck of the ship. He calls softly to Floki and he comes over to crouch down by Ragnar’s side. Ragnar looks him in the eye and says, “I know you killed Athelstan.”

S: What a way to end this season! Like many, I’m sure, I was all bug-eyed with this line and the unusual expression on Floki’s face. A bit hesitant, guarded, but also worried. Ragnar IS his king. And his friend, even yet.

Isn’t he?

An amazing season. Brilliant acting, thrilling writing. A few more items in the Boot Sole file, but we can live with that as long as we get our geek on. 🙂

 My thanks to: vikinks, vikings-gif, vikings shield maidens, bjornstark, gifchannel, and the official history vikings tumblr accounts, where I found my animated gifs this season for the blog.

My thanks also to The Wild Hunt at the No Ship Network for your references, tweets, and fantastic podcasts!

Looking forward to next year! ​ If you have any questions or comments about the finale or anything else that went on this season, let me know below!

Until Season Four:

Heill þú farir, heill þú aftr komir, heill þú á sinnum sér!

Hale go forth, hale return, hale on your ways! – Vafþrúðnismál 4

Two Historical Fiction Authors Talk VIKINGS – Breaking Point

This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

This and all images from Vikings are the property of the History Channel. I use them only for illustrations regarding their show.

The Shieldmaidens of History (Protecting the Innocent from Anachronisms) welcome you back to our review series on the History Channel show Vikings. 

146a6-lissa-bryanAs this season is ALMOST OVER, I continue in appreciation for my cohort in awesome: Lissa Bryan, author of the wonderful Tudor love story, Under These Reckless Skies. Her comments are below in blue.

Also, dash over to The Wild Hunt on the No Ship Network for their excellent podcasts! They are three knowledgeable folk who bring historical and philosophical backgrounds to their commentary, as well as well-reasoned predictions.

Lissa: Did you enjoy watching Lagertha go all Navy Seal like I did?

Sandi: That was pretty darn awesome, seeing the Shield Maidens go all Navy Seal, yes. Was it an entirely feminine force? If so, I wonder why? Smaller? Better swimmers? I have no idea.​

L: I would guess it was because they were more stealthy. The Viking men are great at “berserker” type attacks, but they’re a bit… lumbering. Lagertha and her girls are more fleet of foot. And if a man turns and sees a woman’s face, he might hesitate just an instant, giving them the advantage.

SagaThing on twitter said, “The Age of the #Vikings kicked off with the Lindisfarne raid of 793,but the siege of Paris proved no European near navigable water was safe.”
With capable swimmers as well as brilliant navigators, it was no wonder that Paris was on alert.

L: Ragnar is still suffering serious debilitation from his injuries. He’s urinating blood, and coughing it up, too.

S: We discussed whether this was plague related or due to his injuries. The blood in the urine would indicate an injury, but there are historical notes that indicate Ragnar came home from Paris with dysentery. Dysentery doesn’t usually lead to the kind of bleeding we saw, but I just thought I’d note that, here.​

L: They decide to try a stealth attack at night, and Lagertha and her shield maidens lead the way. They head in, swimming across the river to slip into the city under cover of night. From shadow to shadow, they flit on silent feet, reaching deeper into the castle. They slit the throats of the guards who are atop the walls, inexplicably still wearing their battle helmets at night, and thus suffering from limited peripheral vision.

S: The Northmen did wear helmets on occasion, but not nearly so often as the City Dwellers of this time. And though the fortified cities were not often conquered, they did wind up paying the Northmen a great deal to be left in peace for a season or two. So…did the helmets help or not? ​

L: When the alarm is raised, a pot of that incendiary oil is dropped on one of the women warriors. They must keep it boiling at all hours, which as you noted is a huge investment in fuel and effort… But I digress.

S: Should we add this to the Boot Sole file? 😉

L: Lagertha lights it on fire and it burns away the doors. They kick down the weakened panels to admit Rollo and a team of Viking men who rush in, axes swinging.

S: ​I’ll get you to write a Viking novel yet, Lissa!​

vikings s3e9 gif rolling spikesL: Count Odo orders the release of some weird spiked Barrel of Doom, which rolls down a ramp into the Viking horde… well, actually into the Frankish troops. But still, it was kind of a neat idea.

S: We were not the only people who tweeted a shout out to the Indiana Jones franchise. I did a quick bit of research and was unable to find anything of this sort that was made in the 9th Century, which is when this show is taking place. There are, however, many spiked weapons used for hand to hand combat that were wicked.​

L: Of course, once the spikes get all clogged with guts, it becomes sort of useless. But still, quite wicked looking. I can’t really call it anachronistic, because I don’t know of any time period in which that sort of thing was considered a practical weapon. It strikes me more along the lines of those things Leonardo Da Vinci sketched for the French king, who nodded and said, “Yeah, sounds really cool,” but never actually got around to building.

S: I could totally see that.​

vikings s3e9 shirtless rollo fightingL: Gisla passes out knives to the women of the castle, telling them that the barbarians are breaching the city and they mustn’t be taken alive… Then she goes downstairs to watch the battle from the distance of a few feet. Perhaps someone let her know that Rollo was fighting with his shirt off again.

S: My goodness, Lissa, do I hear a sneer in your words? ​I think what Gisla is trying to do is provide motivation for her people to keep fighting, even against such frightening invaders as the Northmen.

L: Yeah, maybe a bit. “Use this blade for suicide. No, don’t stress your pretty little heads with the idea of trying to defend yourselves. Just kill yourself on the spot.” What a thing to lay on a girl! Yes, being a captive could be awful, but to give the women only the option of death if the “barbarians” broke through the lines isn’t exactly inspiring much hope.  

Count Odo goes into the chapel where the king is praying and begs him to go down to the battle. The king tries to demur, but Odo insists it will inspire the troops. “I am not my grandfather; I am not Charlemagne,” the king says. Truer words were rarely spoken.

vikings_s3e9_French Family PortraitS: Very true indeed. And his reluctance to put on the proper face of the ruler is duly noted. His own daughter understands these leadership functions better than he does.​

L: Back at the Camp, Ragnar sees Athelstan come to him, bathed in an eerie light. He smiles and extends a hand to Ragnar. We see Ragnar curled on the ground in a fetal position, lying in a pool of brilliant red blood.

vikings s3e9 ragnar vision reactionS: To me, this said a couple of things. One, that it was an image of being born again – something Athelstan would of course be in favor of – as well as a violent death from some kind of intestinal or internal problem, due to the way Ragnar was huddled over himself.​ Seeing Athelstan was good, and it gives some ambiguity about Ragnar’s actions later in the episode.

L: One of the Vikings was captured – he was the man Ragnar showed to Athelstan, the one who could speak the language of the Franks. He pleads to act as a liaison and his life is spared. Odo asks him about the “bear-like” Viking man who stopped the Rolling Spike Barrel of Doom.

S: The informant/linguist/crossdresser (not judging, just making an observation) ​seemed to be ill at ease both with the French and the Northmen. I am in hopes that he will be better treated with Ragnar’s people, though, since he wasn’t actually brought in bound.

L: In Wessex, Ecbert speaks to Judith and tells her he can protect her.

S: That miserable excuse for a poetic seduction was just…ew.​

vikings s3e9 lissa smarmy tweetL: He knows what his son is capable of. But there must be “recompense” for his protection. Judith goes to his chamber that night, and Ecbert does a bit of poetic hemming-and-hawing before getting right down to business and telling her he wants Judith as his mistress. She asks him if he will protect her little Albert. Ecbert tells her to get into the bed, which isn’t really an answer, but Judith obeys.

S: SagaThing on twitter said, here: Well, that at least is historically accurate–Judith was indeed married to father & son kings of Wessex!​

What I’m seeing is that Ecbert will perhaps protect Alfred — who grows up to be The Great and all—but there are no promises for Judith. Indeed, he humiliates her and his own son, later.

Cap from vikings-shieldmaiden on Tumblr

Cap from vikings-shieldmaiden on Tumblr

L: His son comes home soon after and tells his father he was successful in his mission in Mercia. He didn’t fall victim to the seductive wiles of Kwenthrith. Ecbert praises his piety and chastity and asks Judith if she’s grateful as well. Judith replies that she is, but wouldn’t be so hypocritical as to say so. Athelwulf tells her that he now sees that Judith’s affair with Athelstan was God’s will. He has to ask his father, though… was it part of his father’s plan that Kwenthrith should kill him?

S: I was very much in favor of this question last night. Ecbert is unscrupulous, playing everyone off everyone. And have you noticed, he’s become less “polished” around the edges in the last few episodes? I don’t know if that’s purposeful or not, but it’s working for me.​

L: Ecbert reacts with wide-eyed horror at the suggestion, and says his intention is to leave his throne peacefully to his son, something that has not yet been accomplished in history, and not only the throne of Wessex, but the throne of “England.” Which wasn’t really a concrete concept yet. Given Ecbert’s Roman preocupation, he probably would have referred to the island as “Albion.”

anglo_saxon_earmap2cS: Indeed, Ecbert is way overreaching in even bringing up leaving “the throne of England” to anyone. Powerful kings (and queens!) are still forces with which to be reckoned all over the island. Not only Queen Kwethrith the Poisoner and Fratricide of Mercia, but also King Aelle ​of East Anglia. There were also the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex, Kent, and Northumbria. This doesn’t even count Wales or the kingdoms of what is now Scotland.

L: In Kattegat, Aslaug has a problem brought to her in the great hall. A Christian man has insulted the Norse gods. He explains to her that the Norse gods are false as the crowd jeers at him and pelts him with rocks. Aslaug proposes that he demonstrate the power of his god, and the man agrees. The next day, he is given a red-hot iron to carry across the grounds. The man first envisions himself crossing the expanse with a beatific smile on his face as it glows in his palms, and dropping it at Aslaug’s feet to lift unblemished hands to the sky. Real life sees him screaming in agony as the metal burns his tender flesh. He only makes it a few feet before he has to drop it. His hands are a bloody mess. Afterward, Aslaug is asked what they should do with him, and she says in a cool, impassive tone to kill him.

Gif from charlesvvane on Tumblr.

Gif from charlesvvane on Tumblr.

S: I am not sure why this particular scene was brought into the episode, to be honest. The life of a Christian missionary to the lands of the North was harsh and often ended in martyrdom for the missionary. I will be interested in knowing if what happened here is reflected in what happens in the season finale next week. Otherwise, it seems to have been included just to make sure Aslaug gets her moment.​

L: Back in Paris, Odo suggests to the king that they should offer treasure to the Vikings to get them to lift the siege, because things are getting bad inside Paris. The people are falling ill and they’re swiftly running out of food.

Plague often broke out during sieges. Sanitation was pretty much limited to “dump your pot in the street,” and with so many people crowded together, water supplies were bound to get contaminated. Secondly, scarcity of food brought in rats and mice, and their fleas carried all sorts of nasty illnesses.

S: The images of the aristocracy wading through the clusters of plague victims was well-done. Gisla in particular looked squicked out. Still, they did make themselves visible. Again, that leadership function thing.

L: Gisla doesn’t want to treat with the barbarians, but the king eventually agrees it’s a good idea. Ironically, she’s of the same opinion as Björn, Floki, Rollo, and Lagertha – they think the city is about to fall. Why else would the people be so eager to bribe them to go away? But Ragnar insists on meeting with the king’s men.

S: Ragnar’s attitude is, to me, a bit sad, here. He’s clearly ill/wounded to a dire degree and everyone knows it. Therefore, as was common for centuries, those who were immediately under him in the hierarchy all faced off to see whose word carried the most weight. Who will succeed the leader? Who will be king after this one dies?

Ragnar’s response to this nonverbalized competition is to state—loudly and with far too much emphasis—that he is king. That he’s in charge. That he’s the one who will make the decisions. Thing is, a leader who IS wielding full power doesn’t have to say so. Only the weaker king does.

So, this made me sad. His mortality is showing. :(​

vikings_s3e9_ragnar pre baptismL: At the meeting, he surprises everyone by approaching a priest. He says he’s a dying man and he wants to be baptized immediately so he can go to the Christian heaven when he passes. He splashes right into the nearby Seine, and the priest dutifully performs the ceremony. Floki arrives right at the end and is horrified by what he sees.

vikings s3e9 post bap reactions flokiS: Ragnar’s wish to “see his friend” will be immediately understood by those closest to him, even if they’re appalled. But is that the real reason for Ragnar’s baptism? The man is a plotter—he always has been.

I am eager to see the finale next week to see if his plots bear fruit. The preview, though, showed me I’ll need to bring a handkerchief with me.​

Thanks for joining us! Tune in next THORSday for the season finale: The Dead. Questions or comments? Let me know! I’ll do my best to answer. 🙂

Heill þú farir, heill þú aftr komir, heill þú á sinnum sér!

Hale go forth, hale return, hale on your ways! – Vafþrúðnismál 4

Blind Date with a Book – Week 3 – ROMANCE


Four weeks of GiveAways!!!

Enter this week to win one of the following titles in eBook.

Week 3

Lies Inside, Lindsey Gray, Romance


How do you say goodbye to the love of your life when you are only twelve years old? Finn O’Malley and Lucy Butler had to figure out how to do just that as Finn left his home in Clarkstown, New York for Two Roads School of Music in California. Being a young talented musician, Finn thought it best for his future but wasn’t sure about leaving Lucy behind.

Now, just one semester short of graduation and a promising future at UCLA, he throws it all away to return home. This leaves his family and friends questioning why.

The Finn that has returned home is not the same boy who left. He’s broken and withdrawn. Lucy and his sister Rylan want nothing more than to bring back the Finn they know and love.

From the moment Finn reconnects with Lucy, he feels the one thing he hasn’t felt in years—hope. As Lucy starts to bring him out of his shell, Finn begins to realize what real love really is.

When his past collides with his future, how will Finn deal with the love he needs and the love he despises? Can Lucy help heal what lies inside?

Pieces of Broken Time, Lorenz Font, Romance


When Blake Connor returns from Afghanistan, he wants nothing more than to hide from the world. He’s plagued by the memory of his best friend’s death and the pain of his own injuries. That same friend’s dying wish is just one more burden he must carry.

Jennifer Owens had expected to get married the moment her fiancé returned from the war, but the news of his death changed everything. When an unexpected letter arrives a year later, it raises new questions and opens old wounds. Her search for answers leads her to Blake’s doorstep.

Although Blake seems determined to keep her at arms’ length, Jennifer recognizes the beauty that lies beneath his scars and confronts him with the truth. Nothing will ever be the same for this broken ex-Army Ranger, but he must overcome his warped self-image and emotional scars if he’s going to be the man Jennifer deserves.

Unwritten Rules, M.A. Stacie, Romance


Elle is an energetic, independent woman with a successful business and new start in the big city. The bustling streets of New York are not what she expected, yet she finds the freedom exhilarating. One interaction at the mailboxes with her shy, strikingly handsome neighbor is all it takes to turn the strong- willed young woman into a bumbling mess.

Jonah Quinn is withdrawn for good reason; he harbors a dark secret. He lives his life in the shadows, playing his music in late night bars and hiding himself from everyone but Elle’s cat. His tattoos bear his pain while his music is his outlet, but it is his silence that keeps his shame at bay.

Can one night of passion between the two of them lead to more than casual glances exchanged at their mailboxes? Will Elle be strong enough to help Jonah with his personal demons. And will Jonah break his silence regarding a past that haunts him?

The Rules for this relationship are Unwritten. A story of longing, love, and forgiveness.

Hidden Threat, Sherri Hayes, Romance

9258d-hidden_threat_hi-res_cover2Cali Stanton has one goal in life, being a doctor. She does not intend to run the family business. But when her father gets injured and tells her that she’s the only one he trusts, Cali finds herself behind his desk at Stanton Enterprises.

Matthew Andersen and his brother Jason have spent the last two years managing security at Stanton Enterprises. But when someone threatens the company and its CEO, challenging Matthew’s abilities, what seems like an easy task, becomes a big problem.

Cali and Matthew must fight their growing attraction for each other to avoid a potentially damaging office romance. As the threats continue, they must work together to keep the company running and discover who is behind the threats.

But when things escalate to violence and Cali becomes the latest target, things get personal. Can Matthew find the Hidden Threat before it’s too late?

Eight Days a Week, Amber L. Johnson, Romance/Contemporary


Andrew Lyons has been running from responsibility his entire life. Returning home after a couple of years abroad, he finds himself jobless and living in close quarters with a sister he can barely tolerate. At her request, he searches for a job on Craigslist, but finds a room for rent instead. Or so he thinks.

Gwen Stone is in a lurch. With a new promotion at work and two young children at home, she’s in dire need of a caretaker. When Andrew shows up on her doorstep, she thinks he may be exactly what she’s looking for. When she offers him the job, he’s more than interested and she’s confident she’s made the right choice.

It shouldn’t be awkward at all.

But Andrew isn’t exactly forthcoming about his intentions, and Gwen has some secrets she’s unwilling to share. When the mom and the “manny” don’t have a clue what they’re doing, things are bound to get messy.

What do you get with two kids who don’t know how to be kids, a man who never grew up, Beatles Rock Band, and hundreds of hours of kids’ TV? A very interesting job, indeed. But when emotions get in the way, there’s more at stake than just an occupation.

Because life doesn’t have clock-out button. And neither does love.

Maybe, Amber L. Johnson, Romance/Contemporary

Maybe-Hi-Res-CoverEmily Portman loves her job. A writer for Breakout! Magazine, she showcases up-and-coming bands. When her next assignment takes her to Austin, Texas, she can’t wait to add the city to her map of places she’s loved and left without looking back.

Tyler Macy is stuck in a rut. Despite his exceptional talent as a musician, he has chosen to take a backseat with his band and let others grab the limelight. Wounded and mistrustful, he doesn’t appreciate his friends’ efforts to bring him back to center stage, and that includes Emily.

For Tyler to find his music again, he must accept that Emily holds the key, like she’s stolen both his heart and peace of mind. In order for them to be together, they both must learn to let go.

Behind the Scandal, M.A. Stacie, Romance/Contemporary

Sent to the family ranch to overcome his addiction, Taylor Reese is angry and hurt. Feeling rejected by his father and brother, Taylor throws himself into ranch life to help him forget. He struggles with his addiction, though he refuses help. But it isn’t long before it hits him hard how much his life has spiraled out of control. He begins to question every aspect of his life, and the confusion leaves him floundering and looking for something, or someone, to cling to.

Libby Karlin is cautious, wary of Taylor’s presence. His brutal honesty and lack of respect claw at her composure. Her dark past makes her reluctant to let anyone near her family, but when Taylor strikes up a friendship with her son, Libby finds herself drawn to the sadness within him. His experiences are no secret to her. She sees where his world turned upside down and offers him a helping hand. But her own secrets stay buried, locked away until a knock on her door has her gasping for breath.

Libby’s fear paralyzes her as she comes face to face with her demons and, determined to stay strong, she battles for a way out.

Could dealing with their pasts really give them a future?

An Unexpected Woman, Sandi Layne, Contemporary Romance


“Put a bow around the woman you want for me, so I’ll know.”

Associate Pastor Dr. Mark Countryman is a recent transplant to North Fort Myers, Florida. Although it’s a paradise for some, Dr. Countryman has never felt more alone. As his fortieth birthday approaches, he reevaluates his past relationships and prays that God will guard his heart so it will not be broken again. If only there was a way he could be sure of God’s will.

“God says that a man is not meant to live alone always.”

As a child, Shelley watched her mother lose the battle against breast cancer. In her late teens, she survived a major hurricane with her father while living in Southwest Florida. Now twenty-five, Shelley Roberts is a furniture repairwoman who believes in being prepared for every contingency while enjoying life and seizing the moment.

A random encounter throws these two people into each other’s lives. Soon after, Shelley is assigned to do some work at Mark’s church. As they spend more time together, a relationship slowly begins to blossom, though whether they’re “friends” or “more” is something neither of them is certain of.

While growing closer to Mark, Shelley encourages him to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season—something she had to learn to do some years before. Though a woman of faith, her life’s experiences have taught her that preparation is necessary. She is enthusiastic in this belief, even when Mark tries to get her to relax and have faith in God’s protection.

Their beliefs will be tested when hurricane season begins in earnest and a storm grows in strength as it nears the Florida Peninsula.

Crossing the Line, Sherri Hayes, Romance/Contemporary


Detective Paul Daniels has spent four and a half years mourning the loss of his wife. He’s been doing his best to raise their daughter, Chloe, with the help of his in-laws. When they inform him right before Thanksgiving that they’re going to be moving over two hours away, Paul finds himself without anyone to watch Chloe—especially when he’s called out to a crime scene in the middle of the night. Little does he know that meeting his baby brother’s girlfriend and her sister, Megan, will change everything.

Megan Carson has taken a few wrong turns in her life, but she’s doing her best to get back on track. When she meets Chloe, the little girl swiftly worms her way into Megan’s heart. The opportunity to help Paul out and watch his daughter appears to be a blessing in disguise. She quickly volunteers to be Chloe’s live-in nanny.

Everything is working well until the three of them head back to Ohio for Chris and Elizabeth’s wedding. Paul has a little too much to drink during the reception, and he and Megan end up sharing a heated kiss. When he wakes up the next day, he has a pounding headache but remembers nothing.

Megan, however, isn’t willing to forget. Over the past few months since she’s been playing nanny, her feelings for Paul have changed. He is everything she never knew she wanted, and now that she knows there might be something there, she’s going after what she wants—Paul.

Red Zone, Sherri Hayes, Romance/Contemporary

Red_Zone_Low-Res_CoverAfter a case ended badly for Rebecca Carson, she’s losing her mind sitting around her apartment waiting on her superiors to allow her to return to work. Since she was a teenager, the only thing she’d ever wanted was to join the FBI. Now that dream was in danger.

Gage Daniels has made a pretty good life for himself. A nice house. A career he loves. As a professional football player, he’s used to getting almost everything he’d ever want with just the snap of his fingers. This includes women. A well-timed smile is usually all it takes to attract the opposite sex, especially in Nashville.

When a stalker threatens Gage, the team owner calls an old friend, Rebecca’s ex-partner Travis Hansen, to help protect his star quarterback and find the person responsible. Hansen offers Rebecca the job, and she jumps at the chance. It’s work, and it will get her out of her apartment. How bad can it be?

Posing as Gage’s girlfriend, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. The man is relentless. Rebecca must work to protect Gage while staving off his advances. She’s there to do a job, nothing more. The last thing she wants is to be another notch on a hotshot athlete’s belt.

As the stalker continues to up the ante, Rebecca finds it harder and harder to keep her distance from Nashville’s star quarterback. He isn’t what she expected in one of the city’s most notorious playboys. Now all she has to do is keep him safe until they can find his stalker, and hope she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.

Behind Closed Doors, Sherri Hayes, Romance/Contemporary


Elizabeth Marshall spent the last nine years doing all the things she was supposed to do. She went to a good college. Married a man with a promising future. Elizabeth even had a nice house in a respectable part of town. There was even the promise of 2.4 kids in her future. From the outside everything looked picture perfect.

Then one night, the world she lived in came crashing down. Six months later with her husband dead and her friends gone, Elizabeth moves to the small town of Springfield, Ohio to start a new life where no one knows who she is or about her past.

Christopher Daniels enjoys the simplicity of his bachelor life. After his divorce three years ago, he swore off women. He has no desire to change that philosophy.

When Elizabeth Marshall moves into the apartment below his in the small Victorian house, she makes him reconsider the motto he’s lived by for the last three years: women are trouble. She is everything his ex-wife is not, and it doesn’t help that she is his fantasy come to life.

He is determined to resist her charms; however, when someone sends threatening messages to Elizabeth, he finds himself in the role of protector. Can he protect Elizabeth and still resist the pull she has on his body and his heart?




Teaser Tuesday – T.M. Franklin

Teaser Tuesday

 Today for #TeaserTuesday we get a teaser AND a BONUS!

In the U.S., tomorrow is Tax Day, so how about a little freebie to help ease the pain a bit?

UNSCHEDULED DEPARTURE by T.M. Franklin is FREE today and tomorrow!

 Unscheduled Departure 


Rowan Elliott is devastated when her boyfriend, Finn, tells her he’s moving across the country to take over the family business, and thrilled when he changes his mind at the last minute and gets off the plane.

But then things get . . . weird. Finn’s acting strange, and Ro’s getting mysterious phone calls that have her questioning if her boyfriend’s really who she thinks he is. As Ro races to figure out what’s going on, she discovers it’s more complicated than she could have ever imagined.

And if she’s not careful, she could lose her Finn forever.


Here’s a little taste…


“Ro, I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said, pulling to an abrupt stop in the parking lot of my apartment building. “I never left a voicemail. Not today.”

I fumbled in my bag for my phone. I was not imagining this. “You did. You called—” I thumbed through my calls and held it up victoriously so he could see. “—at 12:06 p.m. today. See?”

His eyes narrowed at the screen. “That says Private Number.

“Yeah. Yeah, I know. I was going to ask you about that.”

“Why do you think that was me?”

I rolled my eyes. “Because you left a voicemail!” My voice grew louder, a little screechy, but I couldn’t help it.

“Babe, I never left you a voicemail today!” Finn said, aggravation growing in his own tone. He pulled out his own phone and stabbed at it a few times. Finn’s familiar ringtone sounded on my phone, his picture popping up on the screen, along with his name.

“See?” he said. “At 12:06 I was driving. I didn’t call you. Whoever that Private Number was, it wasn’t me.” He tapped his phone and the ringtone stopped.

I stared at my phone and rubbed my forehead. My stomach roiled and an ache throbbed behind my eyes. “I don’t understand. I heard—”

“Let me listen to the voicemail.”

“It…got deleted.” I met Finn’s unreadable gaze and knew how it sounded. Weird. Crazy.  But I had heard him. It was Finn.

Wasn’t it?

Grab Unscheduled Departure Today for the Bargain Price of NOTHING… Nada… No thin dimes! 🙂



T.M. Franklin

T.M. Franklin writes stories of adventure, romance, & a little magic. A former TV news producer, she decided making stuff up was more fun than reporting the facts. Her first published novel, MORE, was born during National Novel Writing month, a challenge to write a novel in thirty days. MORE was well-received, being selected as a finalist in the 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards, as well as winning the Suspense/Thriller division of the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Awards. She’s since written three additional novels and several best-selling short stories…and there’s always more on the way.

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