SMW Books and Bonbons: Karin Tabke’s “Master of Surrender”
By SMW Staff
The year is 1066. William, bastard Duke of Normandy, has claimed the English throne by right of conquest. To quell the Saxon unrest, William sends out his most trusted knights to secure the land. One of those knights is his cousin, Sir Rohan de Luc, known far and wide for his bloody deeds as The Black Sword. . .
Bold and courageous, Saxon maiden Isabel of Alethorpe is the only one left to protect the people of the manor and its lands. When Rohan de Luc seizes Alethorpe, he offers to spare the life of Isabel’s young squire in exchange for her willing gift of the charms of her body. Betrothed to another, she vows to that while he may take her maidenhead, her heart will remain her own. But even as her lips say no, Isabel’s traitorous body is awakened to desire by the seductive attentions of this potent invader. Can she remain true to her own people, or will Sir Rohan’s skilled touch capture her unwilling heart as surely as his prowess with his sword captured her father’s lands?
“Prepare for entry!” Rohan called to his men. “The timber gives!”
Thorin, Ioan, Wulfson and Rorick hurled the thick oak trunk for the death blow. Rhys, Stefan and Warner wielded its twin. In unison, the two battering rams slammed into the door, and the timber gave way, opening with a sickening screech. Rohan spurred Mordred forward, and crashed through the crippled remnants of the Saxon’s defense.
Shield raised and sword at the ready, he maneuvered the huge destrier with his legs into the wide open space of the hall. His body tensed in preparation of a full out assault. Instead the sight that greeted him shocked him.
A lone maid, the one who had so brashly challenged him from the tower, stood in the middle of the great hall. A broadsword at her feet, a dagger clutched tightly to her breast. His eyes instantly moved past her to the wide stairway leading to the chambers above. His men fanned out behind him on foot. Rohan urged his horse past the girl and up the wide stairway, the shod hooves making a sharp clicking sound on the stone. He moved down the narrow hallway, certain to find the villagers laying in wait to war against him. Instead, eerie silence met him. Aye, the cowards hid behind the bolted doors allowing a mere maid to see to their rescue. Rohan sneered contemptuously.
He pulled back on the reins, and Morderd backed up. Rohan allowed the black to move at his own pace down the treacherous stone steps. The woman stood tall and proud before him.
He stopped several strides from her. If she moved, Mordred’s spiked leg armor would shred her in half. His blood ran hot in his veins, and it occurred to him, to waste such beauty would be a tragedy. She was no taller than a young lad. Long golden-colored hair hung wildly around her face and shoulders, reaching down to the full swell of her hips. Eyes the uncommon color of heather in first bloom, framed by thick black lashes stared defiantly up at him. Her skin was the color of fresh churned cream. Her cheeks rosy from the chill in the air and, he guessed, from his unwelcome visit. His eyes scanned lower to a full bosom that heaved in her anger. He could already feel the full swell of it beneath his hands, and the soft thrust of her hips as they met his with passion. The spoils of war were gracious this day. He would enjoy her whilst he could. For tomorrow may find him riding the horizon at his liege’s call. He nodded acknowledging her.
“Bow to your new master,” he commanded in French.
“I will never bow to you,” she hotly replied.
Rohan nodded and looked to his men, who flanked the walls swords at the ready. They waited only for his word to go deeper into the hall and ferret out the hiding Saxons.
Slowly Rohan dismounted.
Isabel’s breath caught high in her throat as the devil himself strode toward her. All sound stopped, the world grinded to a halt. Tawny gold eyes glittered from behind the black metal helmet. The nose guard split his face in two, making his look all the more menacing. A crescent shaped scar marred his chin. He was huge. Larger than any man she had come across in her nearly two score years. His shoulders were as wide as one half the width of the double oak portal. Legs thick as oak supported a wide chest bearing black mail and black surcoat. She stared at the marking emblazoned on his chest. The black sword plunging through a skull, crimson drops of blood hung from the sword tip. His shield bore no coat of arms. The fate of his kind. The rumors called him bastard nephew to William’s mother.
The French called him la lame noir, the English the black sword.
Her blood ran cold, turning her skin frosty. It was true. The black knight and his death squad behind him were notorious for their skill at killing. Isabel dared look past him to the equally notorious knights, in search of the ebony giant who it was rumored could slay a dozen men with one swipe of his sword.
The black sword’s lips twisted into a deadly smile. She felt as helpless as a mouse in the jaws of a stable cat. Yet she stood firm, refusing to back down.
Karin Tabke turns out stories about empowered women and hot cops for Pocket Books and Kensington. She’s also writing medieval romances for Pocket Books, but her women are still empowered and her knights are still hot.
A full time writer, Karin draws on a lifetime of stories and backdrops that few outside of the law enforcement community ever see, let alone hear about. Controlled chaos now reins supreme through the pages she writes where hot heroes serve, protect, and pleasure from page one to The End.