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Released: October 2015
ISBN: 9781465986122
ASIN: B005TYXJ6E
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AWAKENING
Series: The ABCs of S-E-X: Love by the Letter, #1
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Length: Novella
Genre: Historical Erotic Romance
Price: $2.99

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 Owain’s 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 foretold—the 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.

Excerpt
Rhyd Ddu, mountains of Eryri, Cymru — 1149

“Take it off, Ysbail.”

She stood her ground, shoulders back, gazing into her husband’s 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 Gwynedd’s 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 chamber’s heavy shadows. The only light came from the small fire in the hearth, which only served to enhance her husband’s 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 snarl—the 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 Bedwyr’s 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 this night.

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 husband’s 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. Just.

“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

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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 ABC’s 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 you’ll be ready for the winter nights! ~ Seduced by Books

• • •

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 a try. ~ Sharal Hunter's Reviews

• • •

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 given him.

Whispering into her ear, he promised, “By night’s 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 Valentine’s 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

 

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