Spotlight: The Mercenary’s Tale, Jackson’s Pride, Baymore’s Heir, His Duke’s Gift (In The Company of Men 1-5) by Lynn Lorenz (Author Interview) #MM #Historical @LynnLorenz

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Title: The Mercenary’s Tale, Jackson’s Pride, Baymore’s Heir, His Duke’s Gift (In The Company of Men 1-5)
Author Name: Lynn Lorenz
Publication Date & Length: September – December 2015

Synopsis

The Mercenary’s Tale – Drake is a mercenary for hire. He values little other than his sword and his skill. Fighting his attraction to the young men he trains, he refuses to take any on. When Ansel walks into his life, Drake breaks all his rules.

But life for mercenaries is hard, brutal and deadly.

Can Drake take a chance on finding the love he’s denied himself for so long?

Can he have a second chance?

Jackson’s Pride – Jackson has been called to attend his father, Lord Baymore. The man has never claimed Jackson as his son and Jackson believes this might be his father’s intent. He’s left the Duke of Marden’s employ to discover his destiny—to remain a nameless bastard or to claim his father’s name.

When Jackson stumbles across a man, stripped, beaten, and left in a field to die a slow death, Jackson rescues the man. After all, he’s guilty of the same thing—wanting a man.

Will Holcombe gambled and lost. His meeting with a young, willing man went horribly wrong, and now he must pay for it with his life.

Until a man walks up to him in a frozen field and cuts him down.

Jackson is like no one Will has ever met before—a man strong enough to stand with him, perhaps forever.

But Jackson’s on a mission. Will his pride blind him to what his life could be if he chose Will and not his father?

Or will his pride lead him to a fate worse than death?

Baymore’s Heir – Duke Jackson of Baymore finally has all he’s ever wanted—his name, a title, and the man he loves by his side. Lord Will Holcombe couldn’t be happier. He’s Jackson’s lover, best friend, and manages all of Jackson’s affairs. For two years, their life together, although deadly if anyone knew of their forbidden love, has been perfect.

Until Jackson the day when decides the one thing he needs is an heir.

And the one person to find him a wife is Will.

Silent Lodge – Drake and Logan are worried about their friend and captain of the guard, Peter. After the death in childbirth of Peter’s wife, he’s a changed man. Unfocused, lonely, and devastated, Peter needs a new challenge, instead of going through the motions of living. Logan sends Peter on a mission – to discover Duke Weathersby’s plans for invasion. Logan’s father has a small hunting lodge near the border of their lands, and it has a caretaker. Peter sets off alone, to make camp at the lodge and do some scouting.

But what he finds at the lodge just may be his future. Arvel is a fascinating young man. Red haired, deaf and mute from a fever as a child, he’s been living in the lodge and caring for it for years. It’s a safe haven for him. But he’s not alone. He has a protector, Gareth.

When Gareth, Arvel and Peter are together, sparks fly. Arvel belongs to Gareth, but he wants Peter too.

Can Peter join their small family? And if he does, will he always be the third to their couple?

His Duke’s Gift – In this Yuletide story, Duke Logan is preparing the keep for the holiday. Twelve nights of feasting and gift giving to those in his favor. Gifts must be made or bought. Once mercenary Drake struggles to think of just the right gift for his love and liege, and for their sons.

Something isn’t right. A stranger has arrived at the keep and Logan refuses to let Drake into his bedroom at night. Angry and frustrated, Drake fears Logan has lost his love for the mercenary.

When the Twelfth night arrives, and Drake has received no gift, he begins to think he might need to take his son and leave what has become his home.

Excerpt

“Roll over.” I stood, still straddling him.

Ansel pushed himself over, and I gazed down at the bulge in his breeches, long and hard. My eyes traveled to his face. No sign of shame, just that calm, steady gaze of his telling me to continue. He lay there, propped on his elbows, and looked up at my own hard bulge, then he slid flat to the ground.

I went down on my knees and sat across his hips, trapping his rod beneath me, a hard lump against my stones. Pouring more oil into my hands, I began to rub his shoulders, working my way to the sharp planes of his chest. His eyes were shut, and his mouth held that vague smile. I ran my thumbs across his small, dark nipples, resisting urges I didn’t want to give in to.

He hissed in a deep breath and held it as my thumbs played with those sharp points. Circling them first one way, then another, I showed him no mercy. For myself, I could feel my own nipples harden and ache under my shirt. At last, I stopped my torture, and he sighed, letting his breath out in a slow exhale. Damn, I wanted to take one of those sharp points in my mouth and make him moan for me.

Moving lower, I worked my hands over his taut stomach muscles and the tender, purple bruises I’d given him. He winced only once.

I rocked forward on his rod and he moaned. By all the gods, it sounded so good to my ears that I did it again. And again. My sac tightened as my rod swelled.

I lowered my body closer, rocked my hardness against his, and felt his responding push back. Supporting my body with my hands on his chest, all pretense of rubbing sore muscles was gone. I set a steady rhythm and pressed harder.

Ansel’s hands reached up and took my hips, pulling them tighter, his hips answering. He eyes were very dark, wide open, and locked with mine. Sliding over his chest, my hands ran down his arms, locked fingers with his, and pulled them from my hips and over his head. I stretched my clothed body against his bare chest and pumped.

His breath came ragged and his moans louder. My face was mere inches from his. This was it. If I lowered my mouth to his, I’d be kissing a man. Then I thought, we were two layers of cloth from fucking, what was a kiss? Merely damnation.

As if he’d read my mind, his lips parted and he closed his eyes. Unable to resist, I covered his mouth with mine and slammed my rod against him. I thrust faster now, even as my tongue entered his mouth to dance with his tongue, exchanging our tastes. He was as sweet tasting as any woman I’d kissed.

When he groaned into my mouth, I could feel it in my chest. I rocked faster and pressed harder. His legs widened, to give me more room, and I pumped harder. Sucking his tongue into my mouth, I held it captive. A groan ripped his lips from mine as he arched his back, his entire body tensed, and his hands clenched mine. I felt the jerking of his cock beneath me as he spilled and almost joined him.

With a shudder, he opened his eyes and looked into mine.

“Damn.” I smiled.

“Damn.” He smiled and licked his lips. I watched his tongue make a pass over the top and then the bottom, and then disappear inside. I wanted to take it in my mouth again.

Instead, freeing his hands, I rolled off him and sat against my saddle.

He propped himself up on one elbow, dipped his fingers beneath his breeches and pulled them out. They shone in the light, his cream covering them. Gods, I wondered what it would taste like.

“I should clean up.” He stood, went to his bag, rummaged in it, and came up with a bit of cloth. Wiping himself, he dropped the rag on the ground and came back to the fire.

I watched him as he stood in front of me.

“You’re still needing.” He kneeled, locked eyes with me, and pushed my knees apart. My rod strained against my breeches, so any denial would be seen for the lie it was.

When he reached for my strings, I should have said something, such as “Stop” or “Don’t touch me,” but we’d gone too far for false words.

His fingers made short work of the strings and he sat back. Without my shifting, my rod would remain firmly in place. There could be no more pretenses; if I wanted him, I had to move. I took a breath, shifted, pushed my breeches open, pulled the string of my trews, and freed my cock.

It stood tall, thick and long, dark with blood, as I took it in my already slick hand and greeted it like an old friend, with a slow, long stroke. Ansel’s gaze never left my hand as he moved closer.

“Let me.” He reached for my rod, and our fingers touched as he covered my hand with his. Together we glided over my quivering shaft, his fingers picking up traces of oil. Prickles of pleasure danced through my body, settling in my sac.

I slipped my hand from under his, sat back, and watched as his hand pleasured me. I’d held back before he’d released, but now it would be much harder with his hand wrapped around the bared shaft of my cock.

And what pleasure he gave me, like none I’d had before. He knew just how I needed to be touched, just how to stroke long, then fast and short, then long and squeeze the tip. I had to grit my teeth to keep from moaning as each stroke brought me closer to the cliffs of release. I wanted more. I wanted to possess him, own him, and make him mine in every way.

“Lick me.” My voice was quiet, deep, commanding.

Without a word, he lowered his head. I watched as his tongue made a long, slow pass over the blood-swollen tip, pulling a moan from me. He licked under the rim of my rod’s head and I moaned again.

Who possessed whom?

BuyTheBook

The Mercenary’s Tale – Amazon

Jackson’s Pride – Amazon

Baymore’s Heir – Amazon

His Duke’s Gift  – Amazon

AuthorInterview

When I wrote The Mercenary’s Tale, I discovered I loved writing kids. I know, you’re like, what? But it’s true. My gay medieval romance has two boys in it, Tomas, the son of Duke Logan, and Joss, the orphaned boy who serves as page to Drake, the mercenary, at Marden castle.

I’d never written children before, and for these two very different boys, both in age and in class (status), it was a challenge.

Tomas has been raised in privilege. His father dotes on him, protects him, and educates him. He has fine closes, toys and even a little gray pony. He’s a bit spoiled.

“Where’s His Grace?” Jackson had stopped one of the servants at the bottom of the stairs.

“Outside, m’lord.” He scurried off to the kitchens.

We left the castle and stepped into the courtyard. Jackson scanned the open area, then shook his head. “He meant outside the keep’s walls. How many times have I told Logan not to go out without taking guards with him?” he growled.

Past the gates lay the road to the town, and wide fields on either side. In the near distance, the woods stood, and beyond them, the silver band of a river winked in the In the middle of the field stood a man, bent over, as he spoke to a child.

“Logan!” Jackson called.

The man straightened, waved, and turned back to the boy. The child shook his head, long blond hair flying with the motion, then bolted, loping off through the tall The man chased him. I could hear the child’s high-pitched squeals of delight, and the man’s deep laugh as they galloped around the field. He could have easily caught the child, but let the boy escape him, yet all the while herding the lad toward us.

The boy stopped and turned to look back and the man fell with a cry, his arms outflung, to disappear in the grass. I started forward, my hand on the hilt of my short sword, but Jackson took my arm to hold me back.

“Wait, Drake.” He shook his head, a smile on his face.

The boy raced to the man, stopped, then fell down in the same manner as the man had. Laughter and a loud squeal rose from shaking stalks of the fall grasses. At last, the man stood, swung the boy onto his shoulders, and headed our way.

“Logan, I’ve told you a dozen times not to go out without a guard,” Jackson called out. He sounded like an old woman clucking over her children.

Salvation walked toward me, and my breath froze in my chest. His eyes were the soft moss that grows on the north side of an oak, and his long blond hair was pulled back in a queue. He had long, muscled legs, was lean of body, broad-shouldered, and had a smile that lit his face.

Turning to Jackson, my eyes narrowed as I glared at his grin. If it was the last thing I ever did, I was going to kill him for bringing me here. I wasn’t ready; I couldn’t go through this again.

“Logan, Duke of Marden, this is Drake.” Jackson tilted his head in my direction.

“Drake, well met. I’ve heard much of you and your skills.” Logan put out his arm and I took it. His grasp was firm and solid; the heat from his skin seared mine in the flash of that touch. Then he released me, and I dropped my arm to my side.

His green eyes held all my attention, as I memorized their exact color and the way the skin at their corners crinkled as he smiled at me.

Damn.

I cleared my throat and prayed my voice came out sounding normal. “I hope I can be of some service to you.” It did, to my relief.

“I’m sure you’ll do just fine. Now, Tomas, down you go.” He swung the boy down and tucked him under his arm, like a sack of potatoes.

The child, no more than six, giggled, his hair hanging down. “Da, put me down.”

“Down, you say?” Logan winked at me. Like an idiot I winked back, caught up in his smile as if I had been privy to their game. He let the boy slip through his large hands, but caught his ankles and dangled him just above the ground.

“Da! Don’t drop me!” Tomas squealed.

“Of course not. Your head is too hard for the poor ground.” He swung the boy up, caught him, and lowered his feet gently to the ground. “Now, run along and see what Cook has for the evening meal.” He gave the boy’s bottom a pat of encouragement as he raced off. Turning back to me, he shook his head. “My son, Tomas.”

Joss is an orphan. Luckily, he wasn’t thrown out of the keep when his mother, a servant, died. He works in the keep, mostly in the kitchen, and sleeps wherever he can find a warm spot. His clothes are ragged, he’s unwashed, probably has mites, and he’s most certainly malnourished. But he’s a hard worker.

The two boys have never interacted with each other. Tomas would be kept away from the servants, other than his nanny, and when Joss isn’t working, he’s sleeping.

Until Joss becomes Drake’s page.

I soaked for an hour after scrubbing the road’s dirt and my sweat off. The large, low wooden tub had been filled with hot, scented water. I would smell like either a whore or a fine lord. For my part, I’d prefer smelling like a whore. I’d spent most of my life distancing myself from lords, even rejecting my own title.

The soap I washed my hair with smelled like field flowers. Great gods, no wonder the men needed training. If they all smelled this sweet, there was no need to fight; they could seduce their way to victory. I smiled at that image.

Brute lay on the sun-warmed stone pavement next to the tub. His soft warning growl brought my head up and eyes open.

A lad of about ten approached, then stopped, his eyes on the dog. “Master Drake, I am Joss.” He held a stack of clothes in his arms.

“Hello, Joss.” I ducked my head down, rinsing the soap from my hair. “Don’t mind the dog. He doesn’t bite.” He looked relieved, but came no closer. Brute rolled onto his side and went back to sleep.

“I am your page.” He swallowed.

“My page? I don’t want a page.” I waved him away.

The boy stood, bit his lip, and blinked. Turning to look back over his shoulder as if deciding whether to leave or not, his shoulders hunched and his head dropped, as if waiting for the next blow. I felt as if I’d kicked the lad. I’d forgotten that I was speaking to a child, not one of my men.

“Perhaps I need a page after all.”

He spun back to face me and swallowed. A small, shy smile crept across his dirty face, as if testing it on me, to see if I would hurt him again. I wondered how many times in his short life the boy had been beaten.

“I’ve put your things in your room and brought you some fresh clothing.” He placed a pile of clothes on a small stool. “I’ll take these to be washed.” He gathered up the clothes I’d stripped off and hurried away with them.

Then, he returned and without a word, kneeled next to the tub and busied himself polishing my boots.

I continued my soaking; the water was still warm and the afternoon’s heat felt good on my shoulders. The bathhouse was a walled-off yard at the back of the castle, with several wooden tubs and some benches. The washing of clothes was done in a small building next to this area, where women and children labored over troughs of soaking clothing. The place smelled of lye and lavender.

Joss held up the boots for my inspection.

“Well enough,” I said, and the boy grinned. “Grab that towel for me, boy.”

He handed me the towel and I stood, water dripping from my hair, and wrapped it around my waist, then stepped over the edge of the tub. Joss’s eyes widened as he stared at my body.

“You have many scars, m’lord.” He seemed impressed.

“Aye.” I dried off and sat down.

“Didn’t you have a mother to tell you to be careful?” He looked at me as if I were the most pathetic man he’d ever seen. Perhaps I was.

There was no telling how he thought I’d gotten so many scars, and I hesitated to tell him that I’d received most of them killing men in battle for pay. Sitting there, I wondered if my reticence to explain was because I was ashamed of what I had done in my life. Then, I decided I had nothing to be ashamed of, but did Joss really need to know about such things at so early an age? I thought back to that small body Ansel and I had found on the road to Foray. He, too, had been too young to know such violence, yet he had been a victim all the same.

“I did. But I was a hardheaded child and didn’t listen to her.”

“Oh.” He nodded, satisfied with my explanation. He could understand that. “I have a scar, too.”

“Do you? Where is it?” I shrugged into my shirt.

He kneeled, pulled up the leg of his worn breeches, and showed me a long thin scar on his leg. His long dark brown hair fell over his face as he looked down at it.

“That’s a good one. How did you get it?”

“I was helping the cook in the kitchens and his knife slipped.” He looked up at me for my approval. “It had to be stitched.” Well, that should impress me.

“Did it? Did you cry?” I stood, laced up my breeches and put on my vest.

He straightened. “No, m’lord,” he declared, managing to look very brave.

“Good lad.” I had no idea why, but my goodwill seemed to make him happy.

They are thrown together, Joss’s 10ys to Tomas’s 6yrs, but Tomas has rank and privilege, which in this scene, he tries to show up Joss. In this scene, Drake and Logan are sparing with the boys’ wooden swords.

Joss climbed onto a bench. “Well done, m’lord Drake!”

“Seems you have an admirer.” Logan jerked his head toward the boy.

“So, it seems, have you.” Tomas had climbed up next to Joss.

“Best not to disappoint the lads.” He crinkled at me, and my heart skipped a beat.

He took advantage and gave me a blow that landed across my arm. “You’ve lost your sword arm, Lord Drake.”

“I fight with both arms, my lord duke.” I tossed the stick to my other hand and took up the fight.

Logan’s eyes widened, then narrowed, and he smirked in appreciation. “I have underestimated you, Lord Drake. It seems there is more to you than meets the eye.”

“More than you know, aye.”

We clashed again, our sticks rapping against each other. With each volley of swings, the crowd cried out, a few for me, but most for Logan.

“My da can beat your old Drake!” Tomas’ high-pitched voice rose above the crowd. Logan’s eyes darted to him in concern as we fought.

“My lord is a skilled fighter and unbeatable,” Joss shouted back, scowling at Tomas’s hands curled into fists and he swung, his blow landing on Joss’s arm.

“Ow!” Joss rubbed his arm then frowned.

“See, even I can beat you, page!” Tomas goaded the older lad.

Logan froze and I with him. For a moment, I feared that Joss would strike the duke’s son and then I’d have to…well, I had no idea what I would or wouldn’t have to do, but I didn’t wait to see.

“Now, now, boys.” I rushed to them. “This is not a real fight. Your da and I were play fighting, as boys do.” My hand reached out to stay Joss’s arm.

Logan strode to his son’s side. I held my breath. His son had struck first, but no matter what, a servant never strikes a noble, never. Joss had kept his temper and his head, but now, I feared what Logan would do. Even more, I feared what he might order me to do.

“Tomas, did you just strike Joss?” Logan’s eyes grew dark, his lips thin.

Tomas had the good sense to look guilty as his chin fell to rest on his chest, and his hands disappeared behind his back. “I did.” He nodded.

“Son, that was not fair. You struck a man who could not strike back. That is not a fair fight, nor is there any honor in defeating such an opponent. Do you understand?”

Logan’s green eyes bored into his son.

Tomas looked at Joss. I could almost see the understanding when it broke in his mind. “Oh.” His eyes widened, his mouth an open circle. Then he hung his head.

“I’m sorry, da.”

“It’s not me you need to apologize to, Tomas,” Logan said quietly.

“I’m sorry, Joss.”

Joss looked at me for a sign. I gave him a small tilt of my head toward Tomas. I’d hoped the boys would become friends, and this may have damaged that possibility.

“It’s all right, Tomas. It was a good hit, anyway,” Joss said.

“It was?” Tomas’s eyebrows shot upward.

“Aye. It stung.” Joss even rubbed his arm to prove it.

The tension all around us seemed to fade, and I realized that a courtyard of people had been watching. Many must have thought the duke’s boy had taken his rank and privilege to their limits in hitting Joss, clearly an unfair thing, and waited to see what the duke would do about it.

Logan tucked the stick under his arm and picked up Tomas. “Let’s go get cleaned up for the evening’s meal.” He gave me a curt nod, our eyes meeting, and then carried his son inside.

I turned back to Joss. His brown eyes watched me as if he expected me to rail at him. Instead, I held out my hand for him to take. “Come along, boy, getting cleaned up is a good idea. How about a visit to the tubs?”

In this book, I explore what makes a family a family. Is it blood? Or is it love?

Both men realize they are creating something special, something different, with these two boys.

Something Drake never knew he wanted or needed.

A family.

AuthorBio

Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and best-selling author of over 30 gay romances. She lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.

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