Mistress of the Storm

( 7 )

Overview

An epic struggle for dominance is ravaging the Isle of Skye. And in its midst, a man and a woman are locked together by fate?and fantasy. . .

Odious though it is, Isabel knows what she must do: go to the one known as the Healer, seduce him, and recruit him to her power-hungry stepfather's cause. If she refuses, her innocent young sister will pay the terrible price of her disobedience. Yet after just one night with the man she must manipulate, it is clear to Isabel that even if ...

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Mistress of the Storm

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Overview

An epic struggle for dominance is ravaging the Isle of Skye. And in its midst, a man and a woman are locked together by fate—and fantasy. . .

Odious though it is, Isabel knows what she must do: go to the one known as the Healer, seduce him, and recruit him to her power-hungry stepfather's cause. If she refuses, her innocent young sister will pay the terrible price of her disobedience. Yet after just one night with the man she must manipulate, it is clear to Isabel that even if she succeeds, the deceit will not leave her unscathed. For in the healer's powerful arms, her heart is lost forever. . .

Duncan of Skye knows there are those who would use his unusual gift for their own selfish gain. Even so, he yearns to trust the beautiful temptress who warms his bed and fills him with insatiable passion. And when he must choose between her future and his own, he may have to risk everything—even his life. . .

"Boldly sensual and richly emotional." —Booklist on A Storm of Passion

"A passionate and powerful page-turner!" —New York Times Bestselling Author Teresa Medeiros

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brisbin's fourth Storm paranormal historical (after 2010's A Storm of Pleasure) conjures up mythical elements of 11th-century Scotland. Isabel is forced by her stepfather, Sigurd, to prostitute herself as protection for her sister, Thora. When Duncan, a powerful landowner, meets Isabel, he's shocked to realize he can feel her touch despite being afflicted with a power that dulls his senses. Isabel travels with Duncan to his home and finds that keeping her distance from him is nearly impossible as he seeks to learn more about the woman within the emotional walls. After Isabel witnesses his healing powers and the toll they take on him, she becomes conflicted about her duty to spy on Duncan at Sigurd's request. Frequent, explicit love scenes and emotional turmoil lend drama en route to a powerfully moving conclusion. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780758235206
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,169,647
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

First Chapter

Mistress of the Storm


By Terri Brisbin

BRAVA BOOKS

Copyright © 2011 Theresa S. Brisbin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7582-3520-6


Chapter One

Duntulm Keep An t-Eilean Sgitheanach (Isle of Skye) or Skíô (as it was called by the Norse), 1098 AD

Duncan, son of none, watched the storm grow from the window of his chambers at the very top of Duntulm Keep. It rushed across the Minch from the outer islands of Lewis and Harris toward those who lived on the rocky cliff-side. They would all seek cover from the dangerous winds and lightning.

But he would not.

As the storm grew in size and ferocity, Duncan left his room and climbed to the roof, bracing himself against the stone wall that encircled the tower, and waited. The rumbling thunder warned him of the strength of the worsening storm and the first rain, blown by those winds, began to pelt him with drops as sharp as daggers.

He ripped open his tunic, baring his chest to the worst of it, waiting, praying he would feel the slicing rain cut his skin or sting his eyes.

Nothing.

He waited, not moving from the path of the rain and hail that tore at him. On and on it went, red welts appearing on his skin everywhere the hail or rain struck.

And still, he felt nothing.

The desperation he'd felt only weeks ago at the changes in his body and spirit was dull and he searched for the anger and pain that should be coursing through him. He found only a growing emptiness. Prepared to suffer the onslaught of the storm until he felt something, Duncan knew naught but someone with strong arms wrapped them around him and dragged him inside.

Though he could not feel the cold, it must have penetrated deep into his muscles, for he could neither resist nor help the efforts to get him out of the storm's way. Soon he was flung onto a bed and his soaked garments were pulled from him.

His senses of pain, hunger, and any other feelings or needs were dulled, but his hearing was as good as ever. He heard every word and curse rained down on him by his manservant. Ornolf spared no insult to Duncan's intelligence, his plans to kill himself, or his ability to follow instructions.

Duncan could not fight the strong trembling that shook his body—most likely from the cold. Ornolf fretted and fussed, pulling off the soaked layers of clothing and tossing them away, even as he layered blankets on top of his master.

"What did you hope to gain by that?" Ornolf asked his first actual question that had not been rhetorical.

Duncan tried to move, but his limbs refused to answer his mind's commands. "I did not hope for anything, Ornolf. 'Twas simply a test."

When Duncan did not explain more fully, Ornolf crossed his arms over his chest and glared down at him. "And, young master, what was the test?"

The ritual Duncan faced when the moon reached its fullest each month, allowed some unknown power to flow into him, to become him, and to heal those who were sick. He spent hours in agony as the cauterizing fire of the power burned out every feeling and sensation in his body, leaving him numb for days and days.

And he was ... still. He did not want to voice his purpose before he understood more about the changes happening within him. To put his fear into words made it real and he must find out the full extent of the changes before the next step could be taken.

But, even as he comprehended that the changes were dire ones, his body did not react with the customary rolling bile or nervousness. No, his heart continued to pump along at an even pace and his breathing changed not at all. Though he should feel frightened at the realization and wished he did, he was empty of all emotions.

Finally Ornolf gave up any attempt to get answers and went back to fussing and muttering under his breath. Duncan lay there empty of fear, empty of pain, completely empty, yet knowing he wanted to feel something. Anything. That had been the reason he'd stood out in the storm and let it inflict its worst on him.

It was hours before he could climb from the bed and hours more before his body stopped shaking. Ornolf shoved a bowl of steaming porridge into his hands, placed a cup of ale on the table, and left without another word. Tempted not to eat, for no hunger assailed him, Duncan realized another change as he scooped up a spoonful of the porridge.

Although he could taste every ingredient in the thick concoction, none of it appealed to him. The flavors of the oats, cream, butter, seasonings and even a dash of spirits rolled over his tongue with each spoonful, but it made no difference—he neither liked the taste nor disliked it. He drank from the cup—a well-aged ale, kept for his consumption as a gift from a wealthy benefactor, but it was nothing special, simply a liquid to wash down the thick porridge.

Had all his sensations been burned from him during the ritual? It seemed that when the fires in his body went out, everything else ceased, too. Would his senses return? Would he feel emotions again? Duncan realized he would have to wait. He would have to recuperate before he could discover the answer and the extent of the changes.

Days and nights marched on for nearly a week. Though the welts had long since disappeared, Duncan's skin could not feel, his appetite had vanished completely, and the numbness in his soul and heart deepened.

When the moon reached half full, the familiar need returned. His scent poured out, bringing women to his door to fulfill some part of what he called "his curse." Though no hot-blooded man would ever think having a never-ending stream of willing women at his beck and call was a bad thing, Duncan learned it was not necessarily a thing to be coveted. Endless need without satiation could lead to madness, and he feared that would be his fate.

Spring flowed into summer as the Norse king Magnus and his noblemen and warriors continued their travels throughout the western isles, fortifying their allies and smiting their enemies. When they moved south to deal with the Welsh and to bargain with the Scots king, Skye quieted. But those who held land, titles, or power all began planning anew, for the Norse would pass that way on their journey home and favor was to be gained.

Duncan's arrangement with Lord Davin remained a secret few knew and fewer questioned. With the changes wrought in him the last months, Duncan knew the truth—he had no idea of his curse's origin and less about its eventual end. He used his accumulated wealth to seek out knowledge, but there seemed none to be had.

Every possible space in the hall of Duntulm Keep was filled. Many of those who owned land in the surrounding areas attended the early autumn feast hosted by Davin to meet the men from Orkney and take their measure. Though invited to sit at table with him, Duncan declined Davin's invitation, choosing to sit away from the guests so he could observe them. It seemed the fires of hell had left his sense of curiosity intact when they burned away all the rest, so he listened and learned much about the visitors from the north.

Greeted as cousins, they were related to Davin through the marriage of their grandparents or some other ancestor, and the welcome he gave was warm. Foodstuffs and ale were plentiful and everyone ate and drank their fill. Ornolf placed a bowl and cup before Duncan, bothering him every so often so he would eat and drink. The smoke grew thick as the fires burned lower, offering heat but not much light. The torches and rush-lights added what they could, but Duncan could see clearly through the dimness and the haze.

It was a strange effect he'd noticed the last few months, and served him well in his attempts to watch and learn. He was studying the similarities in appearance between Davin and the one called Ragnar when the woman arrived. The room suddenly grew brighter and the chatter lessened as though everyone wanted to see her at once.

Nothing she wore was ostentatious, but the cut of her gown drew every man's eyes to her body. He could not identify the material of it, but it draped her curves as though painted over her flesh instead of being a garment. Duncan noticed the tightened nipples of her very full breasts as the gown molded to them and the way it fell into the junction of her thighs. When she turned to sit down, he and every other man noted the way it hugged her arse, flowing into the indentation of the cleft and outlining her strong legs. Watching her move in it, he did not have to imagine what her body was like—he could see it.

He let his gaze wander over her, waiting for her to be seated so he could see her face.

Something he had not felt in months coursed through him in the moment their eyes met. A heat, a need, a wanting made him ache. Her eyes widened as though she knew her effect, but she looked away when someone spoke her name.

Isabel.

Who was she?

What was she?

How could she cause him to feel the blood heating and rushing through his body when he'd thought himself empty of such things? Duncan shifted in his chair and continued to watch as the attention of those gathered began to drift back to the honored guests. But he realized every man eventually turned back to watch Isabel.

She'd gathered and arranged her hair in a way that made her look well bedded. Its black waves accentuated every move she made and framed the creaminess of her skin perfectly. It was her mouth that sent waves of heat through him; her lips were bow-shaped and red as though well kissed. The blush in her cheeks added to the display—one he could tell was orchestrated carefully for its effect. Tearing his gaze from her, Duncan looked at the people she had followed into the feast.

Strange.

The man and younger woman she'd walked behind had taken seats much closer to their host, while she remained farther away. Was she the girl's maid? Neither of the women resembled the man in any way for he was as light as they were dark in hair and eye coloring. Duncan thought the women might be related based on the frequent glances they shared, cousins probably, though mayhap even sisters.

But, if sisters, why did they so clearly separate themselves at table?

The meal continued and Duncan resumed his perusal, watching her as she ate the food placed before her, and as she spoke to others, seeming to watch every move made by the man with whom she'd entered. It was only when she lifted her chin, gazed up at the ceiling of the chamber and closed her eyes that Duncan realized he'd seen her before. Searching his memory, he finally remembered where and when.

In the early hours just as the sun rose, when unable to sleep, he would walk the battlements of the keep, gazing down at the sea and the village outside the walls. Several times in the last months he'd noticed her leaving the keep just before dawn, and walking to the south beach.

With nothing more than curiosity to keep his attention, Duncan would watch as she took off her clothes and flung herself into the water. Her practice was the same each time he'd watched—dipping twice under the surface of the water and scrubbing her skin as she did. Then she would plunge down and remain in the freezing waters until he thought she'd perished. He remembered several times when he began counting how long she stayed under the water, wondering if she would rise from it at all.

Over the months he'd witnessed her behavior, the changes within him making any tension he felt as he counted out the seconds lessen until he'd watched in complete disinterest, no matter how much he knew he should be concerned.

Watching the way she tilted her head, he was reminded of the way she looked up at the sun as she walked, sometimes struggling, out of the waves. In the earlier times he'd seen her, he'd thought she might be a selkie or water spirit. But, lately, he observed her actions from an emotional and physical distance—until she lowered her head and gazed at him through her lashes.

That heat seared him again, letting him feel things he'd not felt in months. Was she a selkie risen from the sea or some otherworldly creature capable of giving him back all he'd lost? His moments of disinterested watchfulness were over, for his body and his soul knew she was more than she appeared, and his mind knew he must discover her secrets and their link to his own. Standing, his feet moved before he could think on what words to say or what he wanted. All he knew was that he wanted ... her.

Unable to understand or explain what was between them, Duncan stood in front of her, his gaze never wavering from hers. He did not stop when the entire crowd noticed and quieted. He continued even when she tore her gaze from his for the slightest moment, then met it again. He did not let the fact that every eye in the room fell on their encounter concern him at all.

"Who are you?" he asked, unable to form his thoughts and the newly-returned needs into anything more complex.

She looked away, turning her head and her eyes, and he followed the direction of her gaze. The man with whom she'd arrived frowned at her, then looked over at Duncan, assessing him before nodding to her.

"I am called Isabel, my lord," she said in a voice that sent chills through his numb body. She bowed her head as she spoke.

"Isabel," he whispered, savoring the sound and feel of it on his lips—something not possible just minutes ago.

"Duncan?"

Duncan acknowledged Lord Davin with a tilt of his head, but dared not look away from her. Fear had returned as well as sensation and he was afraid all of it would end if he turned from her. "Lord Davin?" he replied in the same manner.

"Is aught amiss?" Davin asked. "Has she offended you in some way?"

"Nay, my lord." From the reactions of those in the room when she'd entered, offended was not the word Duncan would have used to describe her effect. In a moment of clarity, the whole of the situation became clear—her entry, her dress and sensual manner, her position away from others, her early morning departures from the keep, the gazes filled with lust that watched her every move, her habit of looking to the man for permission.

She was a harlot and the man her whoremaster.

"The lady intrigues me," Duncan explained. The bold guffaws from those watching and listening confirmed it. She was no lady.

Davin leaned in and explained under his breath. "She is only tolerated here because of her father's worth to me. If she interests you, I will order him to send her to you. No coin need be exchanged for her."

The discovery that she made her way from man to man and bed to bed ought to have dampened his interest, but it did not. Harlot or lady, she brought his body to life under her gaze. He felt the blood in his veins and the fabric as it pulled against his erection—sensations gone for months. Being a harlot made it easier somehow to want her just for physical release.

Not daring to leave it to chance or willing to delay, Duncan looked over at the man who'd brought her in and waited for his answer. When Davin crossed his arms over his chest and turned as well, a nod was hastily delivered. Duncan held out his hand to Isabel and waited for her to accept it.

His stomach clenched even as his cock surged with anticipation and his skin ached. He held his breath, unsure if the pride he saw in her eyes would allow that public declaration of what was to happen. The moment spun out between them, drawing the silent observation of everyone around them until he could see nothing but her. He could almost hear the sound of her shallow breaths as he waited. Then, as though moving with exquisitely slow motions, she lifted her hand and placed it in his.

A wave of heat and a shock pulsed through him in that very moment. He gasped at the intensity of it, for it burned without harming as it coursed through his body. Her matching gasp and the surprise in her gaze told him she'd felt it as well. Duncan closed his fingers around her hand, guiding her out of her seat and along the table until she could step closer.

Her scent flooded him with a mix of flowers, arousal and something unexpected, a hint of innocence. Duncan inhaled again as he drew her to him and placed his arm around her waist. She shook her head, but he sensed it was more out of confusion or surprise over the growing attraction between them than denial. When they reached the corridor outside the hall, he hastened their pace. He guided her up the stone stairway to his chambers in the tower and could not help that they were almost running when they reached his door, both out of breath. He flung the door open, surprising Ornolf, who remained within.

"Out."

Ornolf glanced from Duncan to Isabel, squinted, and frowned before offering a cursory bow and leaving them.

Duncan faced her and waited for some sign of hesitancy or refusal before closing the door. A whore had no choice, true, but he did not want to think she was there against her will. He needed to believe she felt the force between them and wanted it, needed to believe it almost as much as he wanted her naked beneath him.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Mistress of the Storm by Terri Brisbin Copyright © 2011 by Theresa S. Brisbin. Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    a terrific tale of good and evil

    In Scotland, Sigurd covets power; there is nothing this avaricouse individual would not do to gain more affluence. He even sells his stepdaughter Isabel to lairds or with connections willing to buy. She acquiesces to Sigurd's pimping her in return keeping her sister Thora safe from this abomination and his family business.

    Sigurd's latest mark is Duncan a healer with ties to the king. Isabel stuns Duncan with her touch as he can feel it, which goes contrary to his otherworldly skills that always have diminished his senses. Duncan takes the whore to his holding to learn about the woman. She fears his kindness as men are nice when they want something. Watching him tenderly heal and seeing the aftermath of how much is taken out of her host, Isabel feels trapped as she is falling in love but must protect Thora even at the cost of her heart.

    The fourth Storm paranormal medieval romance (see A Storm of Pleasure) is a terrific tale of good and evil; yet the key is the impact on innocent pawns. Action-packed in and out of the boudoir, fans will enjoy the war for Isabel's heart soul between the kind healer who she loves and the malevolent stepfather who she loathes as her sibling is the bait.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2011

    A GREAT PARANORMAL MEDIEVAL HISTORICAL ROMANCE! MISTRESS OF THE STORM BY TERRI BRISBIN...

    MISTRESS OF THE STORM by Terri Brisbin is a delightful historical romance with paranormal
    twist. It is a powerful medieval paranormal romance set in 1098AD Isle of Skye. It is well written with depth and details.The characters will steal your heart as they are locked together by fate and fantasy.Isabel has been pimped out by her stepfather.Duncan is a healer who is willing to lose her life for the power of love. This story has good vs evil,a curse,coveting of power,secrets,deception,pimping of a stepdaughter,lies,
    romance,sensuality,passion,love,malevolent,a healer,finding the truth,fate,fantasy find,ing your real family,
    learning to trust and finding true love. This is a powerful story with bold sensuality and emotions. A struggle of good vs evil on the Isle of Skye.If you enjoy a paranormal with your historical romance and bold sensuality than you will enjoy "Mistress Of The Storm". A great read from beginning to end.This book was received for the purpose of review from the publisher.Details can be found at Brava Kensington Publishing Corp. and My Book Addiction Reviews.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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