Welcome to a wacky Wednesday. Well, not too wacky.
LAKOTA PRINCESS, the 25th Anniversary Edition, is just out in e-book and print. The book has been re-edited and an updated Anniversary Edition cover given to it and best of all, it’s on sale for $.99. Yay!
Let me tell you a little about this unusual “Western” romance. First, it’s set in England. So, we brought the West to that little island empire, England. Next, it’s set during the Regency period (early 1800’s) and so it has a bit of that time period within its pages, as well as the customs of the Lakota Indians before the Europeans came into their country and changed things. Then, it also entails some interesting facts about the Royal Family, and indeed, the Royal Family becomes a character — so to speak — in the book.
Hope you’ll enjoy the following blurb and excerpt:
A love that defies the ocean. A secret deeper than blood.
Lakota Princess, Book 3
Driven from her home in England by hostile political forces, Estrela was little more than a girl when she came to be raised by a far western Lakota tribe. On the wide, sweeping plains she grew tall and strong, and won the love of a handsome warrior.
But on the eve of their marriage, she is torn away from her native family, torn from the man she loves, and forced to return to a place that feels more like a foreign country than her home. There she merely exists, haunted by her love’s sweet kisses and heated embrace, yearning for his unforgettable touch.
Black Bear has braved the ocean to find the woman whose beauty has captured his soul. But no sooner has he arrived in England than he is called upon to save her life. Who in their right mind would want to murder such a gentle spirit?
As Black Bear comes between her and death time after time, Estrela wishes they could both just disappear back to the plains, and bury the secret she has long hidden –- even from him. A secret from which only their love, truer than blood, can save them.
Warning: Sensuous romance that contains separated lovers who will let nothing come between them…not oceans, her mysterious past, or a murderer bent on destroying their future.
LAKOTA PRINCESS, an Excerpt
She wore the pink, transparent creation into the breakfast parlor after all, and was rewarded for her efforts by a frown from Black Bear. The gown’s lines trailed downward from an empire waist, and Estrela smoothed the outer filmy material down with a self-conscious gesture of her hand. She hadn’t wetted down the undergarments as was the current custom, it being thought by those who ruled fashion that if the material beneath looked wet, it would allude more to the feminine form; something which, it would appear, was most desirable.
Her shoes of soft, pink satin peeked out beneath the hemline of the dress as Estrela paced forward, and all at once, she felt the heat of Black Bear’s piercing scowl.
She peered down at herself. It didn’t matter if she hadn’t wetted down the undergarments; the dress still made her look practically nude. She looked up then, and away, her cheeks awash with unbecoming warmth; she felt suddenly inadequate.
It also didn’t help, she realized, when she looked at the other women seated around the breakfast table and found them to be dressed in a much more risqué fashion than she. They didn’t appear to bother Black Bear.
He scowled at her alone.
She advanced into the room.
“Ah, Lady Estrela.” The Duke of Colchester arose from his seat and smiled at her. “So good to see you this morning. Did you enjoy your morning of exercise?”
“Yes, Sir, I did,” she replied, sweeping her lashes down over her eyes to study the Duke without his knowledge. The man had been most kind to her. Did he mean more by his question? She couldn’t tell.
“Ah,” the Duke continued. “I must admit that I was concerned after that dreadful event yesterday. But, I see that you have recovered most splendidly. Jolly good of you to join us, I say.”
Estrela smiled. “Thank you, Sir,” she replied, and, treading down the long length of the breakfast table, took the seat that a servant held out for her.
She smiled at the servant, then at the Duke as he, too, sat down.
She glanced around the table noting that the Duchess of Colchester chatted gaily with her daughters and with Black Bear, who, after his initial glare at Estrela, hadn’t looked again in her direction.
There were other people here, too, women she did not recognize and a few other men. The Royal Duke of Windwright must have spent the night, for he sat just opposite her at the table.
He glanced at her now, and, clearing his throat, said, “So good of you to join us, Lady Estrela. I say, did you sleep well?”
Estrela smiled at him. “Yes,” she said, “quite well, thank you.”
Black Bear glowered at her down the length of the table, but he said nothing and Estrela wondered if Black Bear intended to discipline her—and if he did, what form would it take?
Well, she wouldn’t think of it now. She had done the right thing for him. In time, he would see this. She only wished that time would elapse quickly.
“I daresay, old man,” the Duke of Windwright addressed the Duke of Colchester. “Must retire to the country soon now that Parliament is out of session. Can’t afford to miss the fox hunt, you know.”
The Duke of Colchester chewed upon a long cigar, not daring to smoke it in the presence of ladies. As it was he bordered on committing a social faux pas just by bringing a cigar into the same room as a lady.
He leaned forward across the table and leered at the other Duke. “I say,” the Duke of Colchester said, “geese are in season now. Do you fancy hunting geese? Could make a trip to the country, we could. I say, there, Black Bear.” He turned his attention to the Indian. “Have you ever hunted geese?”
Black Bear glanced down the table, glaring first at Estrela, then turning his solemn gaze upon the Duke. He didn’t smile and his features revealed nothing at all. At length, he said, “Geese are many in my country. I have hunted them, yes.”
“Well, I say, old chap,” the Duke of Colchester said, “would you quite fancy taking to the country with us to hunt geese?”
Black Bear didn’t scowl, but he didn’t smile either. He stared at the Duke of Colchester, then at the Duke of Windwright. And, as he studied the two men, his brows narrowed. At length he answered, saying, “I would greatly honor the chance to hunt with you. But it is autumn, the season to make meat, and I think we would do better to hunt deer or elk so that the women can fill the food stores for the season when the babies cry for food. Does your country have—tatá?ka—buffalo?”
“Make meat?” It was the Duke of Windwright who spoke.“I daresay we have no buffalo, my fine fellow, but the deer are aplenty and we could hunt them, too; however, shooting geese or any fowl is more the sport this time of year.”
The Indian nodded. “Then we will hunt geese,” he said, returning his grimace once more to Estrela.
Estrela glanced away.
And Black Bear, after a quick survey of the people sitting around the table said into the quietness of the room, “There is old Indian legend told in my country about geese.”
“Is there?” It was the Duchess of Colchester who spoke. “Oh, how exciting. Won’t you tell it to us, please?”
“Oh, do tell us.”
Black Bear smiled, and, shooting Estrela one last glare, began, “It is said that—”
“I say, young fellow,” the Duke of Windwright interrupted, “what is ‘making meat’?”
Black Bear’s gaze leaped to the Duke.
“Oh, do be quiet,” the Duchess of Colchester said, perhaps without thinking first. “Can’t you tell that…?” She stopped, and, glancing quickly at the Royal Duke, carried on, “Oh, so sorry, Your Grace. It’s only that the Indian is telling us a story and I thought that you were my husband or that—I mean—perhaps I—”
“’Making meat,’” Estrela spoke up, thereby “saving” the Duchess, “refers to the necessity in an Indian camp to ensure there is enough food in store to get the people through even the harshest of winters. Usually in the fall, there is one last buffalo hunt during which the women will take what meat they get and dry it and pound it into wasná, which is a mixture of pounded meat, fat, and chokecherries. It is an important venture since, if there is not enough food to get through the winter, the people will starve.”
Estrela glanced at Black Bear, and nodding, returned her attention to her breakfast.
The Duke of Windwright snorted.
The Duchess of Colchester fluttered her eyelashes and her husband, the Duke of Colchester, brought his attention onto the Indian.
“I say,” the Duke of Colchester started, “I believe I would like you to tell that story you were about to begin—the one about the geese.”
“Oh, by all means.”
“Please do continue.”
“We want to hear it.”
Black Bear smiled. “There is a legend,” he said, relaxing back into his chair, “about the geese in my camp. For you see, the geese tell us much.” He gazed at the Duchess a moment before sweeping his attention around the table. And, seemingly satisfied, he fixed his glance once more upon Estrela, his stare a sulky glower. “Those birds’ habits announce the season change,” he continued, “and we look upon the geese as good food when there is no buffalo to feed our women and children. But, their meat has too much fat, though the taste—good.” He paused, and, with his glance clearly on Estrela, said, “It is well known that geese mate for life, something a wise person will study.”
Estrela choked on the bit of sausage she had just swallowed while the Duchess of Colchester exclaimed, “Oh, how endearing. Tell us more!”
“Yes, please, tell us.” The women’s enthusiastic voices re-echoed the plea around the table.
And Black Bear, ever ready to continue, said, “This story is about the female goose who could not select just one mate.” He stared directly at Estrela, who, in turn, moaned, closing her eyes.
Obviously enjoying her reaction, he continued, “Once there was a family of geese.”
“I say, young man.” It was the Duke of Windwright speaking again. “Do you force your women to work, then? You have no servants, no slaves? You make your women—”
“Your Grace,” the Duke of Colchester interjected. “This young man is trying to tell us a story. Perhaps you could ask your questions later.”
“So sorry, I didn’t mean to—it’s only that—well, who would hear of it, after all? Forcing women into physical labor? I mean, after all, are all their women merely servants?”
“The women,” Estrela spoke up, if for no other reason than to stall for time, “work, but the work is not great and there is much time to talk and to tease. Mayhap one could compare it to the fine ladies at work over needlepoint.”
And, although the Duke of Windwright merely “humphed,” and scoffed, he said no more.
“Yes, do continue.”
He smiled. “Most geese have many children,” he said, satisfied, “all of them dedicated to the continuation of their race, and…”
Estrela glanced away, trying to concentrate on something else besides Black Bear. She knew the story was told for her benefit, alone. He believed he spoke about her; this form of storytelling was probably one of the more severe forms of discipline he would administer. The Indian, regardless of Western belief, rarely punished his children. Estrela realized that most people who did not know the Indian in his own territory, did not understand Indian logic: that he did not scold his children, did not physically punish them in any way, and did not even raise his voice to a child, a mild look of disapproval sufficing to correct any bad behavior.
“…but this female bird was beautiful, her feathers most fine, more colorful than any other, her squawk more pleasing to the ear,” Black Bear was saying. “She did not wish to have only one mate, it is said, and she did not feel she should be confined to merely one husband. Nor did she have to. There were several young ganders who sought to have her under any condition.”
And, Black Bear did not take his gaze from her.
“There was one gander, one male who loved her more than any other…”
“Why don’t you,” the Duke of Windwright cut in, “hunt for two or three years at a time, or raise the animals for slaughter, or…”
All the rest of the table groaned except for Estrela, who was only too glad for the interruption.
“The Indian does not wish to disturb the balance of nature,” Estrela said. “And so, he takes only what he needs and leaves the rest.”
“Bad show, I say. Jolly bad show.”
“Yes,” she said, “we could discuss the economics of the Indians and—”
“Wí?ya? Ho Wa?té,” Black Bear snapped at her. “I am telling a story.”
“Yes, well, I—”
“I want to hear more.”
“Yes, pray, finish your story.”
Black Bear grinned, the gesture not sitting well with Estrela. “The goose,” he carried on, “the beautiful goose could not decide on just one gander. And, the one who loved her most of all was but one among the many and she wanted many. And so, she took many to her, not realizing that the gander seeks only one mate.”
He paused, and his focus on Estrela was such that he didn’t even notice the gasps from around the table at so delicate a subject.
But no one stopped him. All, except the Duke of Windwright, seemed entranced with him. And, whether it was his deep baritone or the unusual content of the story that mesmerized them, Estrela could not tell. She only knew that he held the attention of most all seated around the table.
“Yes, she had many,” he continued.
“Bad show, I say,” the Duke of Windwright spoke. “Jolly bad show, making your women work—actually work—why I’ve never heard of such a thing—except servants, of course, but then—”
“The gander,” Black Bear continued as though the Duke weren’t at that moment speaking, “will allow no competition with the mate that he seeks and so one by one the males vying for this beautiful goose’s favor fought among themselves until not one male bird lived. And, she looked in vain for the one gander who had loved her more than any other. But, he had gone to seek his mate elsewhere believing that she, like the sparrow, could not be satisfied with only one mate. And so died out her race, not because of man hunting her, not because of the wolf or bear who would seek her meat, but only because the female goose sought to have more than one mate.”
He paused and glanced around the table. “And so it is,” he said to his entranced audience, “that we learn from the geese that a woman must seek only one husband. And, the more beautiful the bird, the more careful she must be to ensure she chooses only the one.”
“Dare I ask, young man,” the Duke of Windwright plowed right in, “are all your women servants?”
Black Bear ignored the Duke as did the others.
“Oh, that was lovely.”
“Tell us more!”
“Yes, please, more!”
Black Bear held up a hand. “I will gladly tell another story tomorrow at the morning meal, if you are all here again.”
And, while exclamations of joy and wonder resounded around the table, Estrela groaned.
It would be the same story, told again, a bit differently, said over and over until Black Bear determined that she’d been suitably chastised.
And, Estrela made a mental note to ensure she missed each breakfast meal in the future.
“Well, it is my belief,” the Duke of Windwright carried on, “that the Indians must be saved from themselves. Yes, I believe that—”
“I think the gander acted most irrationally.” Estrela’s quiet statement, said amid the Duke’s meanderings, had the effect of silencing all other chatter at the table, including the Duke’s, and, as Estrela glanced down the table’s length to peer at Black Bear, she noted that every single pair of eyes were turned on her.
“And what would you have him do?” Black Bear asked, each person at the table looking to him. “Wait until the silly goose decided she wanted him more than any other?”
“He could have waited,” Estrela countered, recapturing the attention of everyone present. “Had he truly loved her, he would have waited.”
“Waited for what? She was taken. Before he even had a chance to take her, she was taken.”
“Who was taken?” the Duchess of Colchester intervened. “Did I miss something in the story?”
“He could have understood,” Estrela replied.
“Understood what?” the Duchess interrupted.
Black Bear nodded in agreement, repeating, “Understood what?”
Estrela snorted. “If he believed in her, he would have known—he just would have known.”
“He’s a bird,” Black Bear said. “He’s incapable of thinking.”
“Known what?” It was the Duchess who spoke.
“Then why tell the story if the gander is such a fool?” Estrela asked.
All heads turned back toward Black Bear.
“Because the story has a moral,” Black Bear said, each word clipped. “We are supposed to learn from such a story. Most people do unless they have the morals of a sparrow.”
Estrela flushed, and, looking down the length of the table, saw that each person present gazed at her as though they watched a fox surrounded by hounds.
“Well,” she said, “I think you should pick a more intelligent bird in the future, unless you want your characters to act so…so…stupidly.”
And with this said, she jumped from the table, upsetting her plate and knocking over her cup of tea.
“Oh! See what you’ve done?” she addressed Black Bear.
“I’ve done… You are the one who—”
“How could you?” Estrela threw down her napkin just as a servant came up behind her. “Why don’t you use swans next time, or wolves—at least they have a certain intelligence that I find sadly lacking in the gander.”
She spun about, upsetting the servant, his tray of food and the tea. But the servant was well-trained and caught the tray before any damage could be done.
Black Bear watched her leave, but only for a moment before he, too, arose. And, though his movements were slower than Estrela’s, he still moved quickly to follow her.
The servant stood behind him. The tray of food and tea crashed to the floor, most of its contents spilling innocently, except for the tea, of course, which landed on the Duchess of Colchester.
And as she, too, jumped to her feet, wiping at her dress and holding it away from her, one could hear her say to an oddly silent room, “Oh my, oh my, did I miss something from that story?”
The only response to her question was complete and utter silence.