Sunday, August 25, 2013
Guest Blogger: Katalina Leon
Lord Griffin’s Prize
Part of the Emerald Isles Fantasies series
An Irish warlord under a witch’s enchantment…
Tullamore Castle Ireland is an enchanted place where
the unexpected happens. Phantom lovers materialize in
haunted beds and a lonely griffin patrols the ramparts
waiting to reclaim its mate. And that’s just the
For the adventure of a lifetime Maeve de’Burgo visits
Tullamore to study genealogy. Through a magical act
and time travel she becomes embroiled in a dangerous
medieval romance and the unfinished life of her
ancestor. Maeve gets thrown back in time to be
captured, ravished and cherished as a war chief’s prize.
Ronan O’Griofa is a griffin-shifter, the most loyal of
creatures. He’s been trapped in limbo as the avenging
guardian of Tullamore since 1332 AD and longs to be
free. When the soul of his wife returns to the castle he’s granted the privilege of becoming a
man for one day to be her lover, win her heart and remind Maeve of a bond strong enough to
Please choose only one excerpt.
Excerpt One: Chapter one
Maeve placed a gloved hand on the golden door handle of the Tullamore Castle Hotel and pushed. The
glass door resisted against the vacuum of a blustery gust. The short but stormy walk from the cab to the
curb had left rain sheeting from her umbrella and tall black boots.
She bore down, gave the door a firm shove and watched in awe as it swung open onto a timeless realm
entrenched in equal parts modern luxury and dour medieval grit. Above the entrance a time-ravaged,
iron-studded medieval shield bearing the image of a griffin held a place of honor between two Victorianera crystal sconces, punctuating the contrast of a far-reaching past.
Maeve was too tired to care that she was tracking water across the patterned carpet as she ambled into
the elegant front lobby dragging a lopsided piece of rolling luggage. For the past twenty-four hours she’d
roamed airports, engaged in endless desperate bargaining with airline personnel to exchange tickets,
hunted down cabs and texted anyone she could reach to tell them that her international flights and all
her arrangements on the ground had been disrupted by turbulent weather.
The challenging journey from the US to Ireland had left her weary to the bone. Everything that could go
wrong had. As she approached the front desk there was little wonder in her mind why the word “travel”
had its roots in the original travail, which literally meant torture.
An attentive middle-aged woman, with red hair swept away from her stark face, stepped from behind
the carved baroque counter to greet her. “You must be Maeve Clark. We received your message. I’m so
sorry you’ve had such a difficult time getting here.” The woman reached for Maeve’s luggage. “Let’s get
you signed in so you can rest.”
The woman glanced out the front entrance as the cab that had brought Maeve turned and drove away
in the pouring rain. “I don’t see anyone else out there. Is Mr. Clark with you?”
“What time is it?” Maeve fought the impulse to rub her eyes with the heels of her hands and grind what
little mascara still clung to her lashes onto her cheeks.
The woman smoothed the lapels of her prim navy suit. “It’s 1:11 a.m.”
“Oh god. I’m so disoriented I thought it was earlier. By the way, I’m no longer Maeve Clark. I made the
reservations last year before I divorced. Didn’t I update you on the name change?”
The woman’s gaze lingered on the prominent wedding ring on Maeve’s left hand. “No name change was
mentioned, but we have a beautiful room waiting and we’re pleased to have you visit with us, Miss...?”
The woman looked elated. “You’re a dé Burgo? Of course, now it all makes sense! Oh this is wonderful,
and so appropriate. I’m certain you are aware that the ancestral founder of Tullamore Castle was Lord
dé Burgo?” The woman clasped Maeve’s hand. “My name is Áine Byrne. I’m the current owner of
Tullamore Castle and if I’m not mistaken, you and I are distant relations.”
“You’re the castle owner? I’m so happy to meet you, Miss Byrne.”
“Call me Áine. I’m simply thrilled to have a dé Burgo under our eaves again!”
Maeve was dumbfounded by the woman’s intense enthusiasm for her maiden name. “I’m surprised to
see you working the front desk at this hour.”
“I’m a hands-on owner and a notorious insomniac. Night is when interesting things happen at
Tullamore. I like seeing everything and everyone who comes through the front entrance. Hospitality is
my business and I enjoy being hospitable.”
“Thank you, Áine.” Maeve was barely able to manage a smile in her exhausted state. “From the outside,
the castle is so dramatic, very picturesque. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing my room.”
“Of course you are.” Áine took Maeve’s hint and hurried behind the counter to retrieve a massive
leather-bound ledger with vellum pages. “Because you are a dé Burgo would you please sign the historic
guest ledger?” She handed Maeve an old- fashioned feather quill and a bottle of ink.
Maeve sighed as she accepted the quill and ink. Despite her interest in all things historical, she had no
experience writing with a quill and hoped she wouldn’t make a mess of Áine’s lovely old ledger with an
inevitable clumsy ink splosh on the creamy page.
Áine seemed to read Maeve’s mind. “It’s not difficult. Simply dip, swipe the quill on the rim of the bottle
and write far more slowly than you think you should.”
Maeve dipped the quill and sketched her name across the velum with shaky, scratchy strokes that
required several dunks into the ink.
“Lovely.” Áine gazed at Maeve’s signature and set the ledger aside to dry. “By the way, the room you
requested is not available. We had a slight accident with some workmen the other day and the room
you reserved will require refurbishment.”
Maeve groaned in disappointment. “The cheerful little yellow room overlooking the rose garden isn’t
“No.” Áine glanced at Maeve sideways. “We’re putting you in the O’Griofa suite tonight. It’s our finest
Maeve gasped. She’d visited Castle Tullamore’s website many times and knew the O’Griofa suite was a
sprawling set of adjoining rooms stuffed with priceless antiques and no doubt far beyond her budget.
“It’s all right.” Áine raised a preemptive palm into the air. “You will not be charged suite rates. The
mistake was on our side and you shall be the one to benefit.”
Maeve exhaled. “Thank you.” A nearly forgotten thought surfaced. “Some months ago I contacted a
Professor Burke to meet me here at the castle and help me to gather information about my family’s
genealogy. I forgot to email him and tell him my flight was delayed. Has the professor contacted you?”
“Yes, I spoke with Professor Burke at some length and now that I know you’re a dé Burgo your research
project makes perfect sense. The dé Burgos have shared a stunning history with Castle Tullamore. Your
family has been here since the beginning.”
“I’ve been told I was named for a great ancestor of mine, Lady Maeve dé Burgo. I’m looking forward to
learning more about her.”
Áine did not appear to be the least bit surprised by this bit of information. “There’s been a mild setback.
I am sorry to say Professor Burke isn’t coming. He called yesterday to cancel your appointment. He must
attend to emergency business in France and will not return for a fortnight. He apologized profusely for
the sudden change of plans.”
“The professor’s not coming?” The energy drained from her. “I’m so disappointed. That was the core
purpose of my trip to Tullamore.”
“Don’t despair.” Áine lifted her chin. “Another professor has volunteered to take his place.”
“Ironically it’s a Professor O’Griofa. He too claims a strong ancestral connection to Tullamore and has
enjoyed a long association with the castle. Isn’t that an interesting coincidence?” Áine’s gaze sharpened.
“Professor O’Griofa is considered the premier expert on Castle Tullamore, so it goes to show that
tiny setbacks and substitutions can often be wonderful boons. I’m sure the change was for the best.
Tullamore’s just that kind of place. One must expect the unexpected.” She reached for a brass skeleton
key dangling from a hook. “We use an old-fashioned key for the O’Griofa suite. Come with me and I’ll
show you to your room.”
Maeve followed Áine down a long corridor lined with gilt-framed oil portraits of the castle’s many
occupants. They passed a staircase and approached an antiquated- looking iron-cage elevator.
“We’re going to take the lift.” Áine took hold of the iron filigree door and struggled to wrench it open.
“This door can be so stubborn.” She gave the base of the door a brisk kick with the heel of her shoe until
it opened. “Ah, there we go. You’re not claustrophobic or easily startled by screeching metallic sounds,
“No.” Maeve gazed longingly toward the staircase.“Don’t worry, the lift is in excellent working condition.
Maeve lingered at the threshold. “How is it odd?”“It’s haunted and there are a few other peculiarities.”
“Like what? I would think haunted is peculiar enough.”
“Oh there’s much more.” Áine stepped into the lift, pulling the rolling luggage with her, and motioned
for Maeve to follow. “Get in and I’ll tell you about its many eccentricities.”
Maeve felt her face blanch as she stepped inside the unsound-looking lift.
Áine slid the rattling door shut and pressed a button. The lift lurched with a grating noise and rose to the
thumping whir of unseen gears and pulleys.
Maeve gulped a nervous breath. “I’ve never been in a lift like this.”
“You certainly haven’t!” Áine grinned with pride. “It’s one of a kind. I’ve had guests swear the lift
delivered them into another time and place. Can you imagine that? A few bold souls have even claimed
to encounter entities haunting the lift that encouraged them to engage in...” She hesitated. “How should
I say this? Amorous behavior. Their actions were quite spontaneous and uninhibited, but I strongly
suspect they didn’t do anything they didn’t already want to do.”
“Oh my.” Maeve laughed. “And they blamed the lift?”
The lift screeched to a jolting halt. Áine drew the door open. “We’re here.” She motioned for Maeve to
exit. “The O’Griofa suite is at the end of the corridor.”
(Just wait until Maeve sees the handsome portrait of Lord O’Griofa. She’s in for trouble…)
Lord Griffin’s Prize is part of the Emerald Isle Fantasies book series and is available now from Ellora’s
Cave. Be sure to check out the entire Emerald Isle Fantasies books series. It includes lots of talented
Ellora’s Cave authors and loads of steamy, Irish enchantment. You can’t go wrong!
Jennifer LaRose “Phantom Mischief”
Rebecca Royce “Crimson Lust”
Dena Garson “Ghostly Persuasion”
And much more to come…
(In this scene Maeve has been in the O’Griofa suite for less than an hour, but she’s already
become infatuated with Lord O’Griofa’s portrait, traveled back in time to a castle under siege,
released the pain of a failed marriage and hallucinated that a griffin is walking the castle
grounds. It’s been a very eventful night. She’s exhausted and jetlagged. When she climbs into
the notorious O’Griofa “griffin bed” things really heat up.)
…She walked around the room, making sure the door was locked and switching off the few
lights still lit. The fading red embers of the fire glowed. The fire’s soft illumination was lovely
and provided just enough light to see. An errant sliver of moonlight cut across the room and lit
Lord O’Griofa’s portrait.
Maeve pulled the covers back and climbed into the massive bed, which could have comfortably
slept several adults. She gazed up at the silk canopy. The viridian curtains surrounding the bed
were woven with a subtle pattern that suggested to her tired eyes the faintest hint of feathery
She noticed that the bed curtains could be drawn around the bed to either block light or create
an oasis of privacy. She drew the curtains in hopes of preventing the first rays of dawn from
waking her too early. She allowed her head to sink deep into the lush pile of pillows and sighed
with pleasure that the bed felt as good as it looked.
She stretched across the crisp sheets with her eyes squeezed shut, wishing she had the energy
or will to take off the bulky bathrobe, but before she could rouse herself to act she became
aware of the warm weight of a solidly built man pressing down on her.
As if by magic a naked man materialized beneath the bedcovers. His warm skin radiated the
faint but unmistakable scent of musk. He unknotted the robe and pushed the fabric aside,
baring her breasts. A soft sigh crossed his lips.
She made a halfhearted attempt to stop him.
With gentle but decisive action, he took hold of her wrists and slowly slid her arms above her
head, pinning her beneath him.
She gulped a startled breath as he parted her legs with his knee. The sensations were real. The
wet tip of his heavy erection brushed between her thighs. She started to cry out in surprise.
“Hush,” the man whispered. He grazed his lips against the side of her cheek. “Don’t wake,
my love—this is only a dream.” The man’s comforting voice was pure reassurance. “I’ve been
waiting so long for you.”
“Ronan?” She relaxed.
“Who else comes to your bed?” A quiet laugh crossed his lips as if it were a casual joke that
often passed between them. He released his hold on her wrists. “Wrap your arms around me
and make me feel loved.” He leaned close and his warm breath flooded the side of her throat.
“I need you, Maeve.”
A shudder of desire seized her, impossible to deny. The man’s voice was drenched with longing
and coaxed myriad buried feelings to surface. She realized that every lover should plead for
touch with this much conviction, yet so few did.
Dream or not, it had been ages since she’d felt sensations so fiery and she couldn’t resist giving
in. The dream man—Ronan or whoever he was—felt so good that she found herself wrapping
her arms around his broad shoulders and drawing him close. The silky hair on his chest glided
against her breasts. In a moment of uncharacteristic boldness, she reached down, took hold of
his shaft and guided him between her legs. She rubbed the head of his cock against her with
slow strokes, until he was slick and her clit peaked. Without further prompting she allowed him
“Oh Maeve.” A husky groan escaped his lips as he sank deep.
She arched beneath him and twined a smooth leg around his hip, wishing he’d start moving and
pay out on the building excitement he’d caused. She skimmed the length of his muscular back
with open palms before gripping his solid butt and pressing down with a demanding little push
that said “get going”.
He moved with caution.
She tried to glimpse his face in the shadows but saw nothing beyond a vague silhouette. It
excited her to be with a complete stranger. She’d never done such a thing and it really didn’t
matter because this was just a dream. It was so freeing to give in to raw lust. “Fuck me,” she
“What a salty tongue you have.” He sounded amused as he nipped her throat. His lips lingered
on her skin. “You’re sweet as heaven but you talk like a devil.” He took several long strokes,
pumping his hips faster. The muscles of his back coiled and his breath sped. He was big and
solid and the animal strength of his graceful body took her breath away. Each movement was
controlled and decisive and every inch of his body tensed. “I can’t hold back.” A moment later
he bolted into action like a racehorse sprinting. “Sorry, love. This is going to be sweet and
swift.” He gripped her shoulders as his body covered hers and moved with fierce strokes.
The thick shaft of his cock glided against her wet clit at the perfect angle. She lifted her hips
off the bed to intensify the sensation. “That’s good.” She encouraged him to move with her.
She grabbed on to the hard muscles of his butt and pushed down with force. The brisk stroke
of his cock brought her moaning to the edge. “I’m right there.” A beautiful rush of sensations
heated her blood as the easiest, quickest climax of her life carried her away and left her limp
with pleasure. “Ah...”
He lifted Maeve’s thigh higher and sank deep. A quiet growl vibrated low in his throat. He
tipped his head back and arched as he came hard. The man trembled and nearly collapsed
against her, with a dewy sheen of sweat on his skin. He brushed his face against her cheek and
she felt a gritty hint of stubble.
Alarm shot through her. Those details felt all too real. She feared this couldn’t possibly be a
dream. No dream was this vivid. She pushed against his shoulders and tried to get a better look
“Am I crushing you?” He rose on his elbows so she could move and brushed his fingertips
against her cheek. “That was wonderful. I wish I could stay inside you all night, but I can’t.”
A chill shivered across her skin. “Why can’t you?”
“Because it’s not night anymore, it’s morning.” The man evaporated in front of her eyes and the
warm bed covers slumped on top of her with a swoosh as he exited.
Maeve bolted upright and smacked the empty covers with her palm. The man had vanished.
The bed curtains remained drawn and still. Her bathrobe was open and the bedding was
rumpled but beyond that only the faintest scent of salty sweat betrayed that he had ever been
She reached between her drenched thighs with caution and touched. Without doubt a man had
been with her. What the hell was going on?
The quiet scratch of what sounded like claws against the wooden floor made her freeze. She
drew a tense breath, listened with laser focus and heard a soft snort and what sounded like the
padding of heavy paws crossing the room. A noise like an animal snuffling the fire grate made
her blood run cold.
Now she was fully awake and certain this was no dream. Her heart hammered against her ribs.
Beyond the bed curtains, someone or something was moving around the suite.
She drew the bed curtain aside a crack and peered out. The room was illuminated by the faint
rays of an overcast dawn.
Near the fireplace beside the mantel, she saw a large animal the size of a male lion with black
sweeping wings folded behind its back. The creature turned to the side, revealing the lethally
curved beak of an eagle and keen, dark eyes. She gasped in awe and immediately covered her
mouth with her hand.
The creature glanced over its shoulder stealthily, as if it were aware of her presence, and
reached toward the wedding ring she had left as an offering. It picked up the ring with its
hooked beak. The griffin tossed the ring into the air and swallowed it with a quick gulp.
She bit her lip to keep from gasping aloud.
The griffin turned and walked through the heavy wooden door, which posed no physical
barrier. It passed through the locked door with the same ease as if it were walking through fog,
“Oh my God!” Maeve trembled with shock. “What just happened?”
She threw the bed curtains back, leaped off the mattress and ran toward the door while tying
the bathrobe around her waist. She grabbed the doorknob and rattled it. The knob did not
budge and she saw that the door was latched from the inside.
She turned and ran toward the mantel. Her gaze went straight to the clawed feet of the stone
griffin. The wedding ring was gone. She reached out and felt the empty spot with her fingertips
to reassure herself that this moment of utter madness was real. “I’m losing my mind. This isn’t
She focused her gaze with suspicion on the disheveled bed before ricocheting like a bullet
toward Lord O’Griofa’s portrait. Had all that been real too? Had she made love to a phantom?
“Nope. That’s too much crazy,” she said it aloud in a calm voice. There was no way a man from
the distant past had materialized in bed and fucked her breathless with tender gusto. It was a
thrilling but improbable fantasy.
It was more likely she’d been ignoring her true feelings and physical needs for so many
months that she’d gone temporarily nuts. “Strange fantasy men in the bed” crazy was a bad
development. That level of cuckoo should never happen again. It was obvious to her that dire
needs must be addressed. She realized she should buy a vibrator on this vacation and start
Fucking hunky medieval phantoms was without doubt a sign she needed to get off more often
than she had been lately—which was not at all. She was pent-up. This situation simply wasn’t
acceptable. She was a loaded gun ready to explode, for God’s sake. What was next? Would she
throw herself at the first interesting man who crossed her path? In her current wounded-prey
state of mind she knew that would definitely be a mistake. To make sure this type of weirdness
didn’t happen again, a vibrator was a must, and she promised herself she’d get one soon.
Beyond the tall, narrow windowpane, the sun broke through a thick layer of cloud, lighting the
morning sky in brilliant shades of blue and gold.
Maeve smoothed the bed covers. There would be no pretense of going back to sleep. Besides,
she didn’t dare to climb back into that bed until she’d had a sobering cup of coffee and a long
talk with her love-starved libido…
(Maeve dresses and heads downstairs and guess who she runs into walking the castle grounds
dressed in contemporary clothing? Oh yes, it’s very awkward. How can she tell a stranger
that she just finished having sex in her dreams with someone who looks and sounds just like
Lord Griffin’s Prize is part of the Emerald Isle Fantasies book series and is available now from
Ellora’s Cave. Be sure to check out the entire Emerald Isle Fantasies books series. It includes lots
of talented Ellora’s Cave authors and loads of steamy, Irish enchantment. You can’t go wrong!
Jennifer LaRose “Phantom Mischief”
Rebecca Royce “Crimson Lust”
Dena Garson “Ghostly Persuasion”
And much more to come…
To Be Sent Later
Katalina is giving away two Amazon gift cards valued at $15 each and a pdf ebook.
Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’m an artist, an author, mother and wife. I write for Ellora’s
Cave, Loose Id Publishing and a couple new publishers to be
announced soon. I try to bring a touch of the mystical and a big
sense of adventure to everything I write because I believe
there’s a bold, kick-ass heroine inside all of us who wants to
take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.
Website Ellora’s Cave Loose Id Amazon All Romance eBooks
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