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When Michael Turco, a Florida Highway Patrol officer, goes undercover with a medieval re-enactment group, his reluctant contact is Kate Knight, a blond Valkyrie who spends her weekends as Lady Knight, fighting in one-on-one combat against men. Kate, celibate after years of abuse, is far from happy to find herself sharing a postage-stamp-size tent with Michael.
As they work together to solve the puzzle of who is causing increasingly serious accidents in the medieval re-enactment community, they have to deal with their own personal prejudices and fears, as well as the sometimes quirky behavior of the weekend lords and ladies around them. But love is hard to put down, even when the heroine is armed and dangerous.
“I believe you’d just informed me my uniform makes me a control freak,” Raven declared softly, finding his seat more by feel than by sight. “And I said I’d be glad to strip for you anytime. Anything else?”
“Do you have your gun with you?”
“Under the circumstances, yes.”
“You think I’m dangerous?”
“Dammit, Kate, there you go again!”
“Cat,” she corrected automatically. “Besides,” she persisted, “isn’t that ‘carrying concealed’?”
Cat struggled with perceptions versus reality. When she dug far enough down, when she forced herself to confront what had been dancing just out of reach--an unpalatable truth she didn’t want to acknowledge--yes, there was something else. She was not only afraid of Michael; she was afraid for him. His arrogance, his natural assumption of power could, with time, be reduced to a minor annoyance because she truly believed he cared for her and would not hurt her. But the other...
“I thought I understood what you were,” Cat said. “I didn’t. I saw a man from the mundane world floundering through the maze of LALOC culture and, frankly, I was vastly entertained.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“You were so funny,” Cat chortled. “Big macho cop takes on a bunch of medieval buffs and thinks his wits have gone south.”
“That wasn’t all that went south.”
“Naughty, lieutenant. Very naughty.”
“Well? You were making a point, I hope?”
“I was the one who was out of her element,” Cat said. “I could cope with Raven, the alleged cell-phone tower jock Michael Gibbs. I could almost cope with Michael Turco, who was brother to Mark and had a real honest-to-God family on a ten acres of ranch land. But I totally forgot about--or maybe totally rejected--Lieutenant Michael Turco of the Florida Highway Patrol. I wasn’t prepared for him at all. He wasn’t the man I’d... well, you know,” Cat finished lamely.
“Okay, I can understand that, but I don’t understand why it’s so hard for you to get over it. Five days is a pretty long time to stay mad over a simple adjustment to reality. Unless you never gave a damn about me at all.”
The challenge lay there, demanding an answer.
“You know that’s not true,” Cat returned.
“No, I don’t.”
A sliver of moonlight caught his frown. Cat winced, turned away, combing through scattered thoughts for a way out of the mess she’d made. Outside, the breeze rustled softly through the heavy woods behind them. “Okay, here it is,” she sighed. “I’ve only just realized this in the last few minutes, and it’s not easy to admit I’m such a coward. I’m scared by what you do. I’m terrified when I see you wearing a gun. I think of all that could go wrong. I suppose I have no right to look ahead, to think of a future, but what’s a girl to do? I’ve spent too many years ignoring the rest of my life. It’s time to come out of the tunnel, look at the world the way it is. And that says, Michael Turco is a cop. He wears a gun, lives a cop’s life. Any woman who wants him has to live with that as well.”
“I thought you were Lady Knight, a rough, tough warrior.”
“That’s make-believe. My sword is bamboo wrapped in duct tape.”
“And your heart is made of marshmallow?” Raven taunted.
“Hardly,” Cat snapped.
“Then call it a night, come to bed,” Raven said. “Separate sleeping bags,” he added hastily. “I’m not so horny I can’t wait until tomorrow. Give us both time to cool off.”
Cat whirled on him. “That’s it, that’s all you have to say?”
“I’ve found out what I wanted to know. We’ve cleared the air, but it’s easy to see we’re not going to settle this here and now. Tackling things when we’re not so tired seems the sensible thing to do.”
“Sensible! You want to be sensible about love?”
“Love is it?” Michael scoffed. “If you loved me, you wouldn’t be so damned difficult!”
Cat nearly bit her tongue. Adding love into the argument was like tossing a bomb into a minefield. Stupid, stupid, stupid!
Blair Bancroft recalls receiving odd looks from adults as she walked home from school at age six, her lips moving as she told herself stories. But it was only after a variety of other careers that she turned to serious writing. Blair has been a music teacher, professional singer, non-fiction editor, costume designer, and real estate agent. She has traveled from Bratsk, Siberia, to Machu Picchu, Peru, and made numerous visits to Britain. Her most recent research trip took her through Portugal and Spain. She enjoys incorporating these varied experiences into her writing.
Blair’s first book, Tarleton’s Wife, won RWA’s Golden Heart for Long Historical in 1999 and First in Romance at the 2002 Florida Writers’ Association Awards. Her contemporary suspense novel, Shadowed Paradise, was a finalist in both the Golden Heart and the EPPIE, the “Oscar” of the e-book industry. Blair’s Signet Regency, The Indifferent Earl, was chosen Best Regency of 2003 by Romantic Times magazine and was a finalist for RWA’s RITA award. Five more Regencies followed in quick succession. Roses in the Mist, a medieval Young Adult, was published by Wings e-Press in January 2004. For Love at Your Own Risk (Wings, August 2005) Blair drew on her family’s long association with Cape Cod and her experiences living in both Boston and New Haven.
Now a long-time resident of Florida’s Gulf Coast, Blair fondly recalls growing up in Connecticut, which still has a piece of her heart. Blair may be contacted at P O Box 21, Venice, Florida 34284 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 348
Paper Weight (lb): 14.4
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