The Warlord’s Wife (Sons of the North #1) by Sandra Lake
March 17, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance
A stunning historical romance from debut author Sandra Lake transports readers to 12th century Sweden, where a powerful Viking lord will discover a fierce heart cannot be taken by mere force.
Lida was married to the love of her life for just two months when she became a widow. Pregnant and disowned by her late husband’s family for suspected infidelity, she was forced to return to her family in shame. Eight years later, uninterested in the prospect of finding another husband, she finds herself the unwilling object of a marriage contract with a powerful warlord. In a day, she is wed, bed, and put on a ship headed for Tronscar; an unknown icy stone and steel fortress.
Jarl Magnus is pleased to have taken a strong wife who, however stubborn she may be, will surely produce sons. However, he is less pleased with his wife’s additional baggage—a young daughter. But despite himself, Magnus falls for the daughter just as hard as the mother, and Lida’s heart is warmed to see the cold, serious Jarl move surprisingly fast into the role of stepfather.
When enemies attack Tronscar, Jarl Magnus’s nerves of steel waver, as the warrior fears his love for Lida will weaken him. But when his family is threatened, he’ll go to war to protect them, discovering along the way that they have the strength to protect themselves.
Lida surveyed her lavish confine. Rare furs lay across the velvet canopy bed, a stack of plush white linen pillows at the head. Braziers and scented oil lamps flooded the chamber with sweet-smelling spice and soft golden light.
Heaven help her. She was alone, awaiting an unknown fate in a warlord’s private chamber.
How had she even gotten here? The day had passed in a rapid blur of disjointed events. Nothing felt real.
Closing her eyes, dread washed over her. Lying with Urho before they wed, blinded by her love, had never felt wrong. Lawfully wed to the cold jarl, by the bishop no less, she felt soiled. She had no affection for the jarl, no feeling for him, no knowledge of this stranger she had meet only this morn. Husband or naught, she was selling her womb to him for a name for her daughter and a farm. Is that not the description of a whore, placing a price on carnal acts?
She drew in a deep breath. It mattered not what happened to her now.
Fragrant rose petals, surely acquired from a distant shore, floated on the surface of the bath. She ran her fingers through the warm, inviting water. She did not fear the act of mating. At times, coupling with her husband had been splendid.
Lida did not expect any of the same sensations with the jarl. He was a barbaric northern warrior with one intention for her, and it was not passion or love. She knew what must be done and how to do it, yet she lacked one key ingredient: desire.
He would deposit his seed in her—it was naught but farming, and she was the field, he the farmer. Her head dropped forward, and she shivered.
She stripped off her clothing, climbed into the steaming water and closed her eyes.
Lida had never allowed herself to dream of more children. The good men in Turku had no interest in taking on the burden of another man’s child, not when so many maidens were available to start fresh.
She slid her hand down the flat planes of her stomach. Another babe? Katia loved her infant cousins, treating them almost as dolls. She would be a most attentive sister. Lida smiled, envisioning her sweet girl protectively holding her cousin in her little tight grip.
Magnus stood at the doorway, silently inspecting his bride reclined in his bath. The small lines of her forehead were erased with the steaming water. She was . . . flawless. Her body was ideally curved, soft and feminine.
By Thor’s toes, this one might be a mistake. He should have searched longer. Her feminine powers had the ability to lead him to more trouble than she was worth. Vixens should be stirring. Wives should be serviceable, nothing more. He had been distracted with winning his argument, with taking what she said he could not have. Now that he had her, he questioned if he had picked correctly.
As he idly disrobed while he gazed upon her nakedness, his male member thickened. Her jewel-toned eyes flashed open. Bath water splashed on the floor as his skittish bride sat up and covered herself, clutching her knees into her chest. He stepped one foot into the water and she flew up, preparing to leap out.
“You will remain.”
“I would prefer not,” she replied softly. “I am finished—”
“Sit, my errant bride.” His wife would require a considerable amount of training.
“There is not room for two. I am sure you will be more—”
“Sit.” He captured her hand, tugging her down into the warm water.
She reclaimed a corner of his oval travel tub, which in fact he had designed for two. He stretched his legs out and was amused to see her stiffen as he tucked his feet under her soft rump. She no longer had the mettle to hold his stare.
Wiggling his toes to toy with her, he said, “Why bother with this virginal display? We both understand that producing a child requires that you have experience with a naked male. After seeing one, is it not all the same?” His bride snapped her eyes back up. He grinned with his small victory.
No, ’tis not the same at all! Lida wanted to shout at him, but bit her tongue hard instead. This massive warrior in front of her looked nothing like Urho. Her husband had been but a boy compared to this man. The jarl had a chest the size of a mighty bear. His arms were longer, thicker, and harder, and he had the belly of a Roman shield. He was not slim and nimble as her husband had been. In contrast, the jarl was pure brawn, no doubt molded from his cursed Norrland steel. Muscular limbs wrapped in bronzed skin were covered with soft golden hair.
Embarrassed and determined to be done with it, Lida emboldened her heart. “May I await upon you in your”—she swallowed hard—“bed, Jarl Magnus?”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sandra Lake was raised in rural Canada and married her childhood sweetheart (who, like the heroes of her novels, is blond and on occasion shirtless). They are currently living happily-ever-after along with their musical sons and unruly husky.