Ysbail of Ellesmere is a pawn in her guardian's war. For
decades there has been unrest between the marcher lords and
Owain Gwynedd ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd. The most recent
war had been the bloodiest she could remember in her eighteen
years. Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys, and his allies lost
untold numbers of men at the hands of Owain's soldiers. When
a settlement of truce is presented to Madog, it's at Ysbail's
expense. She is to marry Bedwyr ap Owain, one of King Owains
bastard sons, and his most notorious henchman. If all the rumors
and stories she's heard are true, she knows her marriage will
be rife with horror and fear.
Since proving himself worthy with his sword, Bedwyr fights
at his king's side. He's shed oceans of blood and sent untold
numbers of men to their graves. He's become what his name foretoldthe
grave-knower. He's afraid of nothing, least of all death. All
men fear him, including those who fight at his side, and sometimes
even his own king. Terror of him lives within women's hearts;
only the bravest of whores accept him into their beds. And children
weave their own tales of the monster they hear him to be, embellishing
the details to their own gruesome degrees.
When King Owain informs Bedwyr that he's to marry Ysbail
of Ellesmere as part of a peace settlement with Madog, Bedwyr
is furious. A man such as Bedwyr can only survive on the battlefield.
For without love, hatred will send a man like him to the edge
of insanity. Then push him over. But when Bedwyr sees Ysbail
for the first time, blood-thirst turns to blood-lust, and he
vows to show her that she should have no fear of him.
|Rhyd Ddu, mountains of Eryri, Cymru 1149
Take it off, Ysbail.
She stood her ground, shoulders back, gazing into her husbands
black eyes, daring him to make her.
Their marriage was still fresh in her mind, as was the humiliating
bedding that followed. He had granted her some respect in the
task by ushering would-be witnesses from the chamber, but he
had done no more than that before laying her on the bed, lifting
her gown, and taking her most precious possession. While he
had apologized for what must be done, she still had not liked
it. His taking of her had been swift and every bit as horrible
as she had heard it would be.
Her father, Alun ap Wnffre of Ellesmere, had been the governor
and close friend of Madog ap Maredudd, Prince of Powys. Her
mother had died in childbirth, and Ysbail had barely been out
of swaddling when her father was killed fifteen years previously
during one of the frequent border wars. Madog had promised to
raise her until she was of marriageable age. With the rapidity
of the event, she felt Madog could not wait to be free from
his responsibility. So afraid she might bolt, he had waited
until her arrival in Oswestry from her home at Ellesmere to
tell her of her betrothal.
He was right to worry, for she was to marry Bedwyr ap Owain,
one of King Owain Gwynedds bastard sons, and his most
notorious henchman. Legends preceded Bedwyr. She grew up hearing
tales of his bloodlust and the carnage left in his wake. He
was what his name foretold, for Bedwyr meant grave-knower.
Take it off, Ysbail. I would see you now.
She inhaled sharply at his repeated command, his gaze piercing
through the chambers heavy shadows. The only light came
from the small fire in the hearth, which only served to enhance
her husbands fearsome visage.
Bedwyr was not unpleasant to look upon. Had she not already
known of his reputation, and despite the scar crossing his left
brow, she might have called him handsome. Dark, unruly waves
hung about his shoulders. More often than not, they also shielded
his eyes and hid high cheekbones. Belying his shaggy and unkempt
appearance, he preferred a shaven face, which accented his ever-present
scowl and served to deepen his features. His smile, if it could
be called such, looked more like a snarlthe white of his
teeth being the only brightness about him.
Just the size of her husband should have frightened her, never
mind his looks. But in the time it took to travel from Oswestry
to Bedwyrs keep high in the mountains, he had been nothing
but considerate and thoughtful. He had not tried to bed her
again during their journey, but she knew once they arrived he
would waste no time forcing himself upon her. He was a man after
all. At least he had given her a pair of weeks to adjust to
her new home before making it clear he would come to her. Earlier
in the day, he had ordered she and her meager belongings be
moved into his chamber. The lustful look she saw on his face
told her in no uncertain terms that he would take her again
She knit her brows together, hoping to emphasize her scowl
and displeasure at what was to come. When she made no effort
to yield to him, he reached up and pulled free the laces at
the top of her gown. He slipped a single finger under the edge
of the fabric, letting the back of it brush one of her nipples.
She gasped at the sensation.
Remove it or I will do it for you. His voice was
deep in timbre yet low in volume, yet spoke of his determined
insistence. Stranger or no, she knew she would do his bidding
or suffer his wrath.
She felt her nostrils flare as she breathed deeply, trying
to control her racing heart.
With trembling fingers, she loosened the ties and pulled the
gown over her head, letting it fall to the floor beside her.
The fabric of her shift rasped her breasts. She knew without
looking down that her heaving bosom was well in evidence, for
the look on her husbands face told her.
The shift as well.
She swallowed hard while continuing to gaze at him. She kept
her spine stiff, refusing to cower before him. She would not
let him see her apprehension.
Removing the final barrier between them, she let it slip from
her fingers onto the pooled gown.
It was her wifely duty to give her husband what he wanted without
their private chamber, and within. Her only solace was that
if the task went as quickly as before, she could endure it.
Ysbail, he murmured, gauping at her and unmoving.
Was there a hint of surprise in his voice?
Perhaps he had changed his mind about bedding her once he saw
her petite form and the smallness of her breasts. Now that he
was seeing her fully for the first time it was very possible
she repulsed him.
Not so, she found.
|What the reviewers are saying
If you enjoy historic erotic novels
If you enjoy historic erotic novels, this one is for you. Well researched, steamy hot sex scenes, and light humor. Ysbail, the young bride is a pawn used to settle a long war and is married to the king's bastard son, Bedwyr. It is a tight short story with a few surprises and true to the behaviors one would expect in the time period. ~ Avid Reader, Amazon
White Hot Read
This short, sweet erotic romance isn't short on heart, heat or plot . . . Truly Awakening is a romance, above and beyond the plenitude of sex. Ms. Shortland has penned a lovely story that I wished was longer, as it left me wanting more; more at the beginning and more and the end. That's not to say the story was lacking, just that there was so much depth to the story, this could easily have been twice as long and not been enough . . . the sex is both sweet and hot and certainly appropriate . . .All in all, I was very glad I had a chance to read this book. Set in a time I'm not familiar with, in a place I've seldom read about with characters who felt real and genuine, Awakening is a touching romance with plenty of sizzle and a truly satisfying ending. ~ LAS Reviewer, Amazon
This was a nice erotica for me to dabble in and a novella that immediately gets into the story. The erotica aspect of the book was good, however, I thought the bond between Ysbail and Bedwyr was interesting as well . . . If you are an erotica lover, and enjoy a bit of historical scenery to it, then you might like this book. I'm also very interested to see how the author will carry forth the series. Based on her first historical erotica book, I think her style and imagination can only get better. ~ Lady Raven Rave, Amazon
I really enjoyed this erotic short story. The historic setting was well-written, the sex scenes were steamy and the main characters were likable. There was also a plot--something sometimes missing in a novella. I also like the humor and clever writing. Overall, a very well-written work. If you like historic erotica, buy this! ~ anajupear, Amazon
Awakening is a romance, above and beyond the plenitude of sex. Ms. Shortland has penned a lovely story that I wished was longer, as it left me wanting more; more at the beginning and more and the end. That's not to say the story was lacking, just that there was so much depth to the story, this could easily have been twice as long and not been enough . . .
My absolute favorite part of the story had to be how Ysbail deals with the catty gossips who worked at the keep. Clever and quite fun! She shows her backbone here, proving she's strong enough to govern alongside her husband . . . I was very glad I had a chance to read this book . . . Awakening is a touching romance with plenty of sizzle and a truly satisfying ending. ~ Poppy, Whipped Cream Reviews
Erotic and sensual, this is a touching and well done
historical. Bedwyr is a complex man and I fell for him
almost immediately. Ysbail faces her new life with courage
and grace. Without a doubt this is erotica; and the
book makes that point right away. The sex is really
hot but there is also an intriguing story. It seems
to head in one direction but then suddenly takes an
interesting turn. I enjoyed getting to know both characters
and the author does really good job of relating their
pasts. Their shared discoveries reveal a couple who
is well-matched. Everything meshes together to create
a stirring romance and sensual delight. If [you] love
those sexy knights, this tale is sure to please. I can't
wait for the next one.
~ Emma, Night Owl Reviews, 4.5 stars and Top Pick Award
This book definitely does not lack heat! Valentine is kicking
off her ABCs of S-E-X series with a hit. I loved how
our leading hottie (Bedwyr) warms up his girl and meets his
match. My favorite scene has to be our Ysbail owning it and
putting the servant girls in their place and when she learns
her man is as good in bed as he is in battle. Valentine has a big win for me here. The book is quick, fun,
and hot. I was immediately wrapped in, Valentine definitely
starts the book right where you can't think to put it down.
There was not a break for me at all - It was the right amount
of story and interest and definitely over the top with the
S-E-X. You can not go wrong with this series pick up
book 1 and youll be ready for the winter nights!
Awakening delivers a good story outside of the bedchamber
as well as inside. Strong characters and coherent dialogue
make the story flow so smoothly that I found myself surprised
when it was over. If you are looking for something a little
different than your usual reading choices, give Awakening
Awakening was a really sweet well written historical romance.
I was expecting Bedwyr to be a real tyrant but was pleasantly
surprised to see how loving he was towards his new bride,
Ysbail. She was young and innocent but had a strong and determined
spirit. She married Bedwyr without complaint even though the
horrid stories about him frightened her. Bedwyr was a cold
blooded killer but in war how else are you to survive? I was immediately immersed in this story of a bastard son
forced to go through with an arranged marriage by his father,
King Owain. The very first few pages will engross the reader
into the emotional turmoil between Ysbail and Bedwyr. But
this soon leads into an awakening of passion and romance that
surprises the newlyweds and forges a bond & trust that
will soon be put to the test. Bedwyr is keeping a dark secret
from Ysbail that threatens to crush the trust that she has
Whispering into her ear, he promised, By nights
end, you will know my every touch. I promise you, the pain
from your bedding was only once. This is but the beginning
of your awakening. You shall know only pleasure at my hands.
First, you must trust me. ~Bedwyr to Ysbail
I would recommend this to readers who like erotic historical
romances. This novella is packed with plenty of steamy love
scenes to get the reader hot and bothered. Awakening is also
filled with rich historical details woven into an exquisite
love story. This is the first book in Scarlett Valentines
The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter series and I am looking
forward to the next 25 books in the series. I am giving this
wonderful novella 4 Dragons.
~ Monique, AsianCocoa's Secret Garden Reviews
This book to the readers depends on taste. If you are an
erotica lover, and enjoy a bit of historical scenery to it,
then you might like this book. I'm also very interested to
see how the author will carry forth the series. Based on her
first historical erotica book, I think her style and imagination
can only get better.
~ Lady Raven, Romance Novel Junkies