Posted in books, new release, reading

Seven Noble Knights by J. K. Knauss

J. K. Knauss’s epic of medieval Spain, Seven Noble Knights, is now available from Encircle Publications. You can order it here or here, and see interviews, historical tidbits, and videos here. Sign up for castles, stories, and magic at JessicaKnauss.com.

Excerpt from Part One, Chapter III: The Wedding

Young Gonzalo’s uncle, Ruy Blásquez, is receiving Doña Lambra as a bride in exchange for his service to Castile. Gonzalo isn’t at all sure Lambra should be marrying his uncle, and during the ceremony his sensations run toward the culinary.

Doña Sancha shooed her sons away from the cathedral door and drew dried herbs and flowers from pockets Gonzalo hadn’t known were inside her tunic and cloak. With a stick, she carved a large circle on the hard earth. Doña Sancha set the herbs and flowers inside the circle in a pattern with meanings she might have shared with a daughter, but were a mystery to Gonzalo.

“You’ll stand here,” she told her brother, Ruy Blásquez. “When your bride comes from that side, you’ll step inside the circle together.” She arranged her husband and sons on Ruy Blásquez’s side of the circle. Gonzalo ended up next to his uncle, so close he could hear each shallow breath he took.

Count García arrived with a full complement of knights and squires and four banners in white with red castles, as well as a fiddler and a flutist who made ready to play. So many people in the plaza must have been making the loudest ruckus since the city had been won from the Moors, but Gonzalo heard nothing.

From between the buildings at the far end of the plaza emerged forty women who walked with their hair covered to emphasize their married status. Their laughter and singing couldn’t distract Gonzalo from Doña Lambra, who tottered on their shoulders.

An heirloom beaded necklace competed with her yellow hair, shining in tight plaits on her shoulders with ornamental brass tips that looked as if they had come out of a treasure chest long ago. A mail girdle, inlaid with brass and pieces of jet at the edges, cinched her bright blue tunic from under her breastbone to down over her hips. Gonzalo shivered at the thought of the bitter touch of the matching mail sleeves, from the decorated wristlets up to her shoulders. A burgundy-colored cloak edged with three rows of golden braid was fastened over her shoulder with a gilded brooch in the shape of a lion rampant. A square cap, decorated all around with braid and gold carbuncles, looked like a royal crown. Gonzalo imagined he wasn’t at his uncle’s wedding, but that this bride had come from the farthest reaches of Christendom to marry the King of Navarra or León.

The married women set Lambra down in the middle of their ranks. She let the cloak fan out behind her unsteady stride. Her face was frozen into a grimace like the one the Virgin Mary wore as she cradled the Savior’s dead body inside the cathedral.

Gonzalo remembered Lambra’s grin at the banquet days before, when her mouth had dripped red with juices from the roasted bull’s testicles and the sauce-engorged bread trencher. Each time she received the goblet, she had made sure to turn it so that her lips didn’t touch the same spot as Ruy Blásquez’s. She didn’t take the same precaution against Álvar Sánchez, seated on her other side. Gonzalo could hardly taste his food through a choking desire to throw his eating knife across the table into the gloating knight’s hand so it could never touch Lambra so familiarly again.

There he was now, that upstart Álvar Sánchez, wearing just as juicy a grin, so close to Doña Lambra that the obnoxious curl on the toe of his boot intruded on the magic circle.

“What is that blasphemous behemoth doing there? Shouldn’t a member of the groom’s family stand next to the bride?” Gonzalo whispered to Gustio.

Gustio knocked his elbow into Gonzalo’s ribs. “Why? Were you hoping it would be you, little brother?” He chortled until their mother hissed at them to be silent.

Count García was addressing the crowd. “…with these deeds, Ruy Blásquez has earned as a bride my loveliest cousin, probably the most beautiful woman Castile has seen since my mother joined the Kingdom of Heaven. May they live many more years and have many loyal Castilian children.” He raised his arms, which the crowd took as a sign to cheer and shout.

Gonzalo noticed that his uncle had already moved into the circle and reached for Lambra’s hands. She was looking at Ruy Blásquez, but not with love or even curiosity. It was a look of judgment. Gonzalo tried to imagine how his uncle’s soft eyes, long nose, and weak chin fared on Lambra’s scale.

“I receive you as mine, so that you become my wife and I your husband,” Ruy Blásquez said. Gonzalo was relieved to glimpse him smiling widely, displaying his straight, white teeth to his judge in the form of a bride.

Ruy Blásquez smiled and waited, waited and smiled. Gonzalo witnessed a thousand expressions cross Lambra’s face like clouds in a stormy sky. At last, Lambra’s maid emerged from the crowd and leaned over the circle. “I receive you as mine…” she prompted so quietly that Gonzalo had to read her lips.

“I receive you as mine so that you become my… husband… and I your… wife,” said Doña Lambra, her eyes narrow. She pulled her hand away from Ruy Blásquez to wipe at her plump lips, as if the words had sullied them.

She craned her neck to look at Álvar Sánchez and Gonzalo knew she wished she had said the words to him. His heart beat faster. Then she shifted her gaze to Gonzalo. He felt as if he were smothered with the parsley, fennel, red carrot, and beet sauce from the banquet. Such was the hunger he saw in her eyes, a hunger he couldn’t help but feel, too, and which raged all the more, the more he tried to contain it. He remembered the way the bull’s testicles had flopped onto Doña Lambra’s trencher under their own weight and the way they deflated when she plunged her knife into the center of the sacs.

He stopped a startled cry in his throat.

“Long live the newlyweds!” The crowd shouted until they were the only words Gonzalo remembered ever hearing.

Buy a copy of Seven Noble Knights on:

You can also pick up a paperback copy at your favorite indie bookstore: https://bookshop.org/books/seven-noble-knights/9781645991205.

Posted in book covers, books, contemporary romance, date shark, date shark series, new release, romance

The Date Shark series is back!

The Date Shark Series is available again is independent books, complete with new covers and editing!

The first book in the series was so much fun to write. It was a challenge not to rely on anything supernatural to keep the story going, but it made me work harder and I was really pleased with the results. The idea for this book came from an experience I had when I submitted a query letter to “The Query Shark,” which she promptly ripped to shreds (deservedly) and set me on the right path. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if there was a similar “shark” for women who needed a dating overhaul.

Date Shark, book 1

Date Shark FRONTLife as the marketing director for a popular fashion boutique is overwhelming for Leila Sparrow, to say the least.

She’s not sure what ever possessed her to add revamping her dating life to her already hectic schedule. Calling in renowned Date Shark, Eli Walsh seemed like a good idea until she actually met with him…

Date Shark was only meant to be a side-enterprise to his thriving couple’s therapy practice, but Eli Walsh knows it’s become more of an obsession.

At least, it was until he agreed to take on Leila. Somehow she has stolen his entire focus. He wants to admit his fascination with her and growing romantic interest, but he knows coming on too strong will scare her away.

His plan to convince her that she is worth any man’s interest by first being her friend is challenged when his tips start to pay off and Leila begins dating Luke.

Will his friendship with Leila mean the end to any romantic pursuit?

Available Now!

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Shark Out Of Water, book 2

Shark Out Of Water FRONTGuy Saint Laurent is too busy cursing his sister for roping him into taking over Eli’s Date Shark business to prepare himself for the slew of bizarre women he’s about to get involved with. This is the last venture he intended to take on, but somehow he’s just become Chicago’s newest, most reluctant Date Shark.

On top of dealing with bug-toting, mothering, obsessive women, Guy faces personal tragedy that changes his outlook on life, whether he wants it to or not. He’s not sure what it is about Charlotte Brooks that draws him in, but getting her off his mind after a brief encounter proves impossible.

As Charlotte tries to help Guy deal with his loss, he begins to get the impression she’s hiding something from him. He knows he could simply walk away, continue as he always has, but he suspects whatever she’s hiding, she won’t be able to face it alone.

Charlotte is the one woman who can capture his attention, but she may also be the one woman capable of breaking him.

Available Now!

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The Only Shark In The Sea, book 3

The Only Shark In The Sea FRONTVance Sullivan has always been the rock everyone turns to for help…

His work with patients recovering from traumatic events makes him the perfect person to help his friend, Guy Saint Laurent, with one of his Date Shark appointments. When Vance meets hesitant, frightened Natalie Price, he suspects she’s hiding the truth behind her fears, and he’s drawn in by a need to help her.

Haunted by a terrible event from her past, Natalie can’t even endure being touched without suffering a crippling panic attack…

She doesn’t know why, but Natalie feels Vance might be the only one who can help her put the pieces of her life back together. Despite the tension their arrangement causes with his girlfriend, their bi-weekly sessions seem to be helping…as long as he keeps his promise not to push her to reveal more than she’s ready to share.

Suddenly the tables have turned…

When Vance suffers his own unspeakable tragedy, asking for help is the last thing he wants to do. Drowning in grief and guilt, crushed by betrayal and lies, Vance needs a lifeline.

Natalie has no idea why anyone thinks she can help him, given her own deep-rooted fears—but she knows she has to try. A twisted notion of justice makes the danger all too real, and Vance and Natalie realize it might take one broken soul to mend another…

Available Now!

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Shark In Troubled Waters, book 4

Shark In Troubled Waters FRONTSabine Saint Laurent is known as the Princess of Paris. Polite, beautiful, charming, polished…perfect.

Everything is always under control, and when it isn’t, she handles it. It’s been an eventful few years with friends getting married, having babies, getting kidnapped, and almost dying, but she’s made it through each upheaval with poise. Just as she’s looking forward to things calming down, her entire life is upended by a startling piece of news.

Aside from her agent managing her day-to-day affairs, Sabine does not ask for help. Not even from her close knit group of friends and family. So when she finds herself struggling to cope with major changes in her life, she’s determined to power through on her own. It should be easy enough. Everything is always easy for Sabine: modeling, men, money, languages, art, cooking. Finding out she’s pregnant shouldn’t be any different, right?

Except it’s not easy. Nothing about navigating pregnancy, custody, complications, and a man she despises trying to seduce her is simple. Michael Moniteau’s intentions are questionable, but she desperately needs help and he’s the only one who understands enough to give it. It could be the beginning of something wonderful, or it could break the heart she’s kept carefully shielded for so long.

Available Now!

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Posted in book covers, books, cover design, delsheree gladden, ebooks, eliza carlisle mystery, mystery

Eliza Carlisle is Back and Stirring Up Trouble

Exciting news for Eliza Carlisle fans!

The Catalyst is available again (post-Kindle World rewrite version) for purchase as an ebook on Kindle, B&N, and Smashwords. Apple Books and Kobo are coming soon as well! The Catalyst is also available in paperback for the first time!

Catalyst reboot available now

Looking after Eliza Carlisle is about as easy as bathing a cat!

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MORE exciting news is that book 4, Incendiary, is close to being finished and will be released in early 2019!

Here’s a sneak peek!

Incendiary (Coming Soon)

Eliza Carlisle Mystery, Book 4

Incendiary FRONT

How long can Eliza keeping looking over her shoulder before she finally sees her own death approaching?

New Year’s means resolutions, getting on track, making decisions.

For Eliza Carlisle, starting a new year means making tough choices, even if those decisions mean losing friends and possibly getting kicked out of culinary school. She’s all set to take her life in a new direction when her demented half-brother Simon’s reappearance changes everything.

Broken and more alone than she’s been since fleeing her childhood home, Eliza struggles to hang onto the fragile threads that are holding her life together. Only a comically disastrous young chef and the threats against her life pull Eliza out of her fog of self-loathing. Saving seven-year-old Clara means ignoring the threat Simon now poses and surrendering to burnt grilled cheese sandwiches and whipped cream-splattered kitchens…not to mention family secrets, death threats, and a whole host of spy gadgets. And who can forget about Baxter?

With so much mounted against her, Eliza has as much chance of surviving the criminal elite, her psychotic half-brother, and Baxter’s determined advances as she does escaping Chef Harper’s quest to kill her culinary dreams.