Cheyenne Storm by Rea Renee

Please welcome Rea Renee author of the Cheyenne series – Native American Historical Romance.

Many writers debate having a prologue or not. When I first wrote Cheyenne Storm, it had one. However, at the advice of a few beta readers, I cut it from the manuscript.

However, I’ve had many readers asking for more and deleted scenes from my novels, so here’s one:

Cheyenne stormPrologue France 1805

Sylvie clung to the maple branch. Her fingers dug into the bark, wedged splinters underneath her nails. Squinting, she peered beyond the slanted rain to the raging sea.
Wind slew the waves, breaking them against the rocks below. White foam spewed and drenched her. The salt water burned her eyes. With the back of her hand, she rubbed them.
Lightning struck the ocean, illuminating the darkened sky in eerie flashes. She searched the whipping waves for a glimpse of her father’s ship.
Nothing.
As the sea plastered her blond hair to her head, she tasted the salt water in the rain, as the sea plastered her blond hair to her head. The thunder resonated and shook the earth.     Even the leaves on the maple tree trembled.
Her father’s ship should have arrived before now. Every day for two months, she searched the waves.
Shifting her weight on the tree, she saw a flicker of lantern light from her bedroom window. She had left her room dark before sneaking outside.
“Zut Alors.” She climbed down the tree.
At the bottom, she hiked up her nightdress and splashed through puddles of mud.
When she reached her home, her mother frantically called her name from inside the mansion. Sylvie opened the wooden door and cringed from the squeak.
Her mother whirled around. “Why were you out in this storm?”
“Looking for Papa. He was to come back before now.” Sylvie gazed up at her mother who dabbed her eyes with a lace handkerchief. The color reminded of the pale sky at dawn when she looked into her mother’s eyes.
“You’re certain?” Her mother smoothed down her yellow muslin with shaky hands. “That he arrives soon?”
Sylvie’s grandfather spoke up from the top of the stairs. He waved a hand dismissively. “Sometime this month or next.” His white mustache twitched and Sylvie saw the hint of red on his round cheeks. “That’s the information from my company’s letter,” he huffed.     The top of his head reflected in the mirrored ceiling. “But he’s as mad as King George to come back here.”
“He’s my husband.” Her mother straightened.
“Jacqueline, you didn’t marry under my consent. Nor in the church.” At the edge of the stairs, he gripped the decorated banister.
“You know very well that Father Dermer married us in the church courtyard before Joseph left with the army.”
Thunder boomed and the crystal chandelier rattled as if to answer her.
“I demanded that you annul the marriage when I discovered the truth months later, but my damned luck, you were with child in only one night by a man of no title.”
Sylvie clenched her fists at her sides. “Don’t speak that way about father.” In the ceiling mirror, she saw she glared up at him with her tongue sticking out like a gargoyle.
“Change before you ruin the rug.” Her grandfather returned her glare as he descended the stairs.
Sylvie shook her head and sent droplets of water spraying.
“Pray go and change into a dry night-shift before you catch influenza,” her mother scolded.
After a roll of her eyes, Sylvie stomped up the stairs.
At the top, she rounded the banister, then paused. Leaning forward, she continued to listen.
She bit her lip to keep from screaming at them to stop. Her father would be home soon.   Why did her Grandfather speak so ill of him all the time?
He grasped her mother’s arm and led her into the foyer. But with their angry tones, Sylvie still heard them.
“God seems to answer your prayers as of late. He ignored mine to kill the man in battle years ago.” Something hit the wall and shattered. “At least, he would’ve died for his country. I could’ve negotiated with the Marquee into marrying you even with a child. Now you must listen to re—”
“If he had died and I didn’t have Sylvie, then I’d leave and join the army disguised as a man, like Angelique Brulon. Even after they discovered she was a woman, they allowed her to fight openly without disguise because she’d proven so valuable in the defense of Corsica. I’d have fought France’s enemies until I died too.”
“The Marquee’s a good match,” he huffed.
“I’m already married.” Her voice sounded clipped.
“Your damn husband is a commoner and charlatan.” “Joseph only seeks your blessing.”
“I’ll never give it. He can’t pay my interest against his debt of the Raducanu name.”
“You promised,” she choked out.
“Did I? I only promised his return when I was satisfied.” He snorted. “And that won’t happen unless he comes cold in a coffin.”
“Why are you so heartless?” she sobbed. “If mother were alive she’d spit—”
A slap sounded. Sylvie cringed as the echo set her teeth on edge.
She peeked around the corner and saw her mother’s cheek spotted red. Her grandfather shook his back to the stairs.
“Do not disgrace me so. She’d have asked a midwife to concoct a potion to remove the vile child from your womb. And demand that you beg for the Marquee’s forgiveness. Lord knows she realized her mistake too late.”
“But you loved each other.”
“That does not matter. She’d tell you the same.”
Upstairs a maid saw Sylvie near the stair ledge with her hair matted. A pool of water surrounded her bare feet.
“Mademoiselle, you’ll get sick.”
“Shh.” She pushed away the woman’s hands.
The maid left but returned with a bowl of warm water, washcloth, towels and a clean nightdress.
Even after the maid washed the mud off as Sylvie’s teeth chattered. Finished, Sylvie snatched up a towel and dried off. She changed in the hallway while the maid mopped up the water and mud from the floor.
Her ears itched to hear their words.
“My daughter and I will join my husband and sail back with him to America.” Jacqueline, her mother, paced the floor. “With or without your blessing.”
“You will not! Leave and you’ll no longer be my daughter,” her Grandfather bellowed.
“So be it.” She held up the edges of her muslin and maneuvered around him to the stairs.
“I’ll leave my estate w-with my brother, neither you nor your daughter will receive anything from me.” He stopped at the base of the stairs.
Jacqueline ascended. In between the crook of the stairs and the banister, Sylvie froze.
As he watched her mother, the vein in his forehead enlarged. “Joseph will be forever in debt.”
“I don’t care, I love him.” She wiped at her tears with the back of her hand.
“And you’d sacrifice your daughter’s life, her prestige?”
As Sylvie realized her mother would spot her soon, her legs unlocked and she crept to her own bedroom. The maid followed with Sylvie’s wet clothes in her hands. Sylvie ducked behind her door, but still in view of the staircase.
“The moment you step onto that boat,” her grandfather called up to her mother. “I’ll arrange for his death. Do you understand?”
“Oui.” Jacqueline paused and held onto the railing with one hand at the top of the stairs.     Her shoulders slumped. “I believe you would.” She turned and disappeared into her room.
The maid tugged on the tangles in Sylvie’s hair.

“Ouch. Don’t pull so.”
“I doubt I hurt your hard head.”
Once the maid finished, Sylvie waved her away.
It was quiet, so she glided to the end of the hallway and stopped at the edge of the stairs.
The fire crackled in the marble fireplace in the foyer. She saw the edge of her Grandfather’s shoulder.
On her tiptoes, she leaned forward and observed him with a cigar. With a piece of kindle from the fire, he lit it.
Smoke puffed out as he strolled into the library. She glided down the stairs. So he would not see her, she nestled against the massive vase and banister.
The scent of tobacco lingered in the air as she followed him down the corridor.
Inside the library, she ducked underneath the couch designed with red, purple, and blue flowers. From underneath she peered up at him.
He reclined in the plush leather chair.
The butler, Louis placed a silver tray on the mahogany table beside him. It held a glass of red wine and a crystal pitcher filled with more. “Sir, another letter arrived late yesterday for Madame Jacqueline.”
Her grandfather frowned and downed his wine in one gulp. “From Joseph?”
“A young boy brought it by.”
He waved his hand. “Add it to the others.”
Their butler, Louis, stood still. Sylvie thought he pretended to be a statue, but then he shifted his weight.
“Louis?”
Instead of answering, Louis stared at the floor.
Her grandfather grumbled and grabbed the letter. Across the marble floor, his heavy footsteps echoed. At the bookshelves, he snatched a book from the shelf. Once more near his chair, he flopped down. His teeth clenched the cigar as he placed the letter inside.
This book is indistinguishable from any other. What makes it so special? Sylvie thought. Maroon cover and thick width, but when opened held no pages, only a compartment full of letters.
“Shouldn’t Ms. Jacqueline read one? She weeps in fear he’ll never return.” Louis spoke quietly. “And the storm—”
“That’s the idea.” He slammed the false book closed, then tossed it on the table. The empty wine glass vibrated at the intrusion. “God provided an excellent touch, though.” He held up his crystal goblet, which Louis refilled. “Better he die at sea, so she’ll have no reason to chase after him. He claims he turns into a wolf after one bit him and lives among the savages. His motive is money and I intend to have my daughter cleansed from this infatuation and remarried before I die.”
“But sir. You’re Catholic, we don’t believe in divorce.”
“But if Joseph dies or she thinks he’s dead—well, I’ll allow her time to mourn. She’ll reject the idea if the Marquee precedes t—”
A sneezed tickled her nose before she could stop it.
Her grandfather reached underneath the couch and hauled her out.
“You’re not to tell your mother any of this.” His green eyes narrowed and his cheeks blotchy.  “Do you hear me?”
“But why?” Her lip trembled. “Papa’s good to us.”
“No, mon chére. Your father writes that he loves another.” His fingers warmed her shoulders. “He confessed to me that he wants our money. You and your mother’s money.   This story of him and wolves is a ruse.”
“But he loves us. I-I’m his—.” Tears caught in her lashes as she glanced at the hollow book.
“He has another wife in America. They’ve a newborn son.” Her grandfather hugged her tight. “He told your mother how disappointed he was that you were a girl.” She cried into his shoulder, her sobs shaking her. “Now, your father’s letters would crush your mother.” He nudged her chin up. “We must be strong for her.”
She bit her lip but nodded.
“Let me handle things. I’ll give your mother the letters later.” His smile faltered.    “Maybe your father will come to his senses and return to us.”
She rubbed her nose and sniffed.
Her father would come, he promised. He always kept his promises. Didn’t he?
“Don’t tell your mother about this.” Her grandfather gestured for her to go upstairs.    “She’s not strong enough and this will kill her. You don’t want to kill your mother, do you?”
She shook her head and dipped into a curtsy. Rising, she then kissed her grandfather’s cheek.
Sylvie was sure her father would come.
Afraid to stay for further punishment, she scooted out and went to her room.
***
The next morning, Sylvie crept towards the veranda. Already, her mother and grandfather ate breakfast. Her grandfather sat at the head of the table, her mother to his right.
She stopped at the archway when she heard her mother sobbing. “I prayed….”
“I know.” He patted her hand. “But the storm last night broke their ship apart. Dead bodies litter across the beach.”
Was it true? Father was dead? Sylvie’s stomach clenched like she would be sick.
“I…I can’t live without him.” Her hands wrung each other as tears fell down her pale face.
“Hush. Don’t speak nonsense. Think of Sylvie.”
Her mother nodded. “She’s fatherless.”
Sylvie ran her tongue over her mouth where she had bit her lip before and tasted a trickle of blood, hot and metallic.
No. He could not be dead. Then she remembered her grandfather’s words. Perhaps God punished her father for his sins. For loving a son more than her. Tears stung her eyes, but she blinked them away.
“She won’t be,” he soothed. “You’ll marry again.”
Her mother’s head snapped up. “Never.”
“After a sensible mourning,” he grabbed a roll, and sliced it opened, smearing butter inside, “you’ll marry the Marquee.”
“I’ll never marry him or anyone.”
“We’ll discuss this later.” He took a bite.
“There’s nothing to discuss,” she whispered.
“Enough.” He spotted Sylvie pressed against the archway and motioned for her to join them at the table. “Louis, these rolls are cold.”
rea reneeRea Renee is pen name of self-published author of historical romance. Always love, but sometimes history is darker than sugar-coated stories.

Rea’s stories are dark, adventurous, and captivating.

Sign up for her newsletter and receive advance notice of sales, contests, new releases and more:
http://eepurl.com/brhxVb

Advertisements

B is for Bedding the Bride by Jenna Jaxon

Banner.pngPlease welcome historical romance author, Jenna Jaxon. Stay tuned after her guest post for an expert of her new novel.

B is for Bedding the Bride

Marriage customs during the Middle Ages were varied and in some cases, exceedingly strange to our modern day sensibilities.  One such custom was “bedding the bride.”

The ceremony actually should be called “bedding the couple” because both bride and groom were participants along with their family, friends, and wedding guests.

According to Alison Weir,  “One feature of medieval royal weddings that seems shockingly intrusive today was the public bedding ceremony, in which the newly wedded couple were put to bed together by their attendants and toasted by their guests, as the bed was blessed by a bishop or priest.  Then they were left alone to attend to their chief duty, the begetting of heirs to ensure the succession.  This bawdy custom had died out by the end of the 17t century.”

The custom was not confined to royalty, however.  Both nobles and commoners celebrated weddings in this manner as well.

After the marriage ceremony, the bride and groom would retire to separate rooms and their attendants (family or friends) would dress them for bed.  At one time, in Scandinavia, the guests would instead strip the couple naked.  Then they would be conducted to the bedroom, often followed by shouts of bawdy comments.  A priest would bless the bed and the couple would be put into bed and handed a cup of “sweetened and spiced wine, again blessed by the priest, known as the ‘benediction posset,’” according to George Monger.

Afterward, the attendants participated in “the divination custom of throwing the stocking.”  The attendants would have secured the stockings of the bride and groom. Two grooms’ men would sit on one side of the bed and two brides’ maids would sit on the other with their backs to the center.  Each one took turns throwing the stockings over their shoulders.  If a groomsman hit the bride or a bridesmaid hit the groom with one, then it indicated that person would soon marry.  A forerunner of tossing the garter and the wedding bouquet.

Once the posset was drunk and the stockings tossed, the curtains would be drawn, the company would retire, and the newlyweds would be left to their own devices.

In rare cases, if the couple were royalty, or if there was a doubt about the “ability” of the groom, attendants stayed in the room while the consummation took place.

The custom of the bedding ceremony died out by the late 1600s. But until then, brides and grooms had lots of company on their wedding night. Apparently no one had heard that two’s company, twenty’s a crowd. 🙂

Sources:

http://www.alisonweir.org.uk

Marriage Customs of the World:  From Henna to Honeymoons by George Monger

Sex:  A User’s Guide by Stephan Arnott

A Hard Day’s Knight

My medieval novel, Time Enough to Love, is the story of knights in the service of King Edward III of England.  Knights are perhaps the iconic image most readers have of the period. The men didn’t, however, spring fully ready at birth for this way of life.  There were years of training and hard work that went into becoming a knight.

Training to be a knight began actually at birth.  Male children who were not destined for Holy Orders, began learning at his parents’ home what is expected of a knight, good manners, and the code of chivalry. Most knights came from noble families as the training and equipping of a knight was expensive, but any free man could become a knight. At age seven, the young boy would be taken to a different castle and serve the liege lord as first a page and then by about age fourteen a squire.

Pages were considered boys while squires were young men who had arrived at puberty. Growing up in the service of the lord, these young men learned everything about becoming a knight from religion to manners to practical experience. At age fourteen they rose in rank to squire and tended to the knight directly.   They gained experience hawking and hunting by both watching and practicing these skills.  They were also taught to use knightly weapons such as the sword and the lance.

Usually at age twenty-one, although sometimes earlier, the squire, after learning how to comport himself in both combat and chivalry, underwent the ceremony of Knighthood, and was knighted by having a sword tapped on either shoulder, and bidden, “Arise, Sir Knight.”

Knights as the warrior class adopted a set of idealized behaviors known as chivalry to be followed both on and off the battlefield.  These behaviors included being a ferocious fighter, a devout Christian concerned with the well-being of the weak and helpless, a charmer who loved to dance and flirt with ladies, and a man who would allow no stain on his honor.

Although there was no standard of chivalry to which the knight was held, there did arise, in literature, a standard of sorts where the treatment of noble women were concerned.  A knight was expected to honor and serve his lady, whoever he might choose her to be.  She could be the lady of the castle where he received his training or a lady who he esteemed from afar but never met or a lady he was destined to marry.  Whatever their relationship, the knight was bound to do whatever the lady bid him do. Many stories of King Arthur and the Round Table, especially those with Lancelot as the central figure, illustrate this idea of devotion to the lady.

 

TIME ENOUGH TO LOVE

TETL SET CORRECT.png

 

When Lady Alyse de Courcy is betrothed to Sir Geoffrey Longford, she has no choice but to make the best of a bad bargain. The hulking knight is far from her ideal man, and although he does possess some wit and charm, he is no match for the sinfully sensual man she secretly admires, Thomas, Earl of Braeton, her betrothed’s best friend.

From the first, Sir Geoffrey finds himself smitten by Lady Alyse, and, despite her infatuation with his friend, vows to win her love. When Geoffrey puts his mind to wooing Alyse, he is delighted to find her succumbing to his seduction. But when cruel circumstances separate them, Geoffrey must watch helplessly as Thomas steps in to protect Alyse—and falls in love with her himself.

As the three courtiers accompany Princess Joanna to her wedding in Spain, they run headlong into the Black Plague. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both the men she loves. But which love will survive?

 

TIME ENOUGH TO LOVE EXCERPT

Geoffrey hurried on with a suggestion. “’Twould be the work of a few moments for me to teach it you, my lady.”

It would have to serve. She shot a look over her shoulder at her husband, who nodded and laughed with the princess though his eyes were trained on her. Best get on with it then. The sooner ’twas done, the better.

“Your skill at dancing is such that you would certainly learn the steps with but slight instruction from me.” Geoffrey leaned so close his voice, against her ear made her jump and recall herself. She stepped back and looked at him.

His practiced courtier’s smile flickered at her, and she caught something deeper shining in his eyes that she fought not to see. Her heart stuttered a beat.Her body flushed with the anticipation of dancing with him again even as misgivings swirled in her mind. No good would come of this dance, but Thomas watched closely to see that she acted cordially to Geoffrey. Would that it was an act.

With a sense of heavy foreboding, she extended her hand to him. “Very well, Sir Geoffrey. What must I do first?”

He placed her hand atop his arm and led her to their place in the circle of dancers then grasped her hand to pull her around to face him.

The moment his hand touched her skin, a streak of fire shot through her. Her mouth went dry, and her gaze flew to his face. Surely he felt that as well?

He stared back, his eyes mirroring all too clearly the blaze that coursed up her arm.

Damn Geoffrey Longford.

In a daze, she looked around at the other dancers, expecting them to stare accusingly at her. As if they could see this sinful feeling that tore at her soul. At a loss for how to act, she raised her gaze to beseech Geoffrey. “What do we do now?”

’Twas an apt question for, God forgive her, at the touch of Geoffrey’s hand, all thought of her husband had fled. She was back on the deck of the Phillipa, facing him once more. Loving him once more.

Geoffrey cleared his throat, his face flushed, and said simply, “Follow me.”

Then they were twirling around the circle, hands clasped, arms touching intimately, He seemed to brand her wherever he touched. The figure reversed, and her other side was scorched as if a red-hot blade seared her. Her gaze locked onto Geoffrey’s, and the music, the dancers, the Great Hall and all its inhabitants melted away until all that was left was the whisper of his breath in her ear and the heat of his body pressed close against her.

He leaned in closer to whisper, “I must lift you now.”

Before she could grasp that staggering news, his arm went around her waist and he lifted her, twirling them around full circle. She panted, blood pounding in her temples, roaring in her ears.

They continued to dance, but she moved as though she were a doll made of rags, her legs barely able to stand. Her world narrowed to the single source of light and life that was the man who held her in his arms again. The man whose love she could no longer deny. Despite the agony of the betrayal, in the core of her being she knew neither the vows she had spoken to Thomas nor the passion they had enjoyed in his bed would ever match the intensity of love and belonging she shared with Geoffrey. As soon compare a candle’s flame to the sun.

Buy from Amazon

AUTHOR INFORMATION

 

Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary romance.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets.  When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director.  She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA.

She has equated her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

 

Find Jenna Jaxon online:

BLOG:  https://jennajaxon.wordpress.com/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Jenna_Jaxon

FACEBOOK:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jenna-Jaxon/146857578723570

 

Six of the Best #Vikings #6BestHop

VIKING FLAME ANDREA R COOPER (2)Bram smirked, but climbed down the side of the ship and into the rowboat. The first mate, one who always glared at him with a bleeding gummed snarl, and scurvy, snatch the oar. Without waiting for Bram to settle into the boat, the man pushed off with the oars. Bram fell against the back of the boat with a grunt.

“I paid your Captain handsomely to see me safely to shore.”

“Aye.” The man rowed, but his scowl did not lessen. Cliffs rose up on one side of the ocean and waves churned against the rocks.

Near the beach, the man quit rowing and yanked out a knife.

Bram didn’t move. “You go against your Captain’s orders t—”

“You made it to shore. That’s all we’s promised.” He spat at Bram’s boots. “No one said anything about you living afterwards.” When he dove forward, Bram ducked to the side and snatched the sailor’s arm, pinning it to his side. When the sailor slung with his free arm, Bram increased the pressure until the man was on his knees.

“Cease, or I will break your arm.” If it wasn’t for his pledge to Morga, he’d have snapped the man’s arm already. Once his contract was signed with the Laird, then he’d be free to fight in Ireland—or at least against other Vikings and rival Irishmen. The man continued to struggle, “Or perhaps a leg as well? What will your Captain say if you return without your weapon and injured? Will he be merciful and allow you to recover or throw you to the sharks?”

“Heathen scum!” He twisted his body to escape Bram’s grip.

As he did, Bram snapped the man’s wrist backward and the first mate let out a howl before the blade came closer to Bram’s chest.

“Now, hand me the knife.” When the man glared at him, he increased pressure on the bent wrist. “Or this heathen might do worse so that not even the sharks would want you.”

The first mate gulped and released his hold of the knife.

Bram broke his hold and snatched the blade out of the air before it hit the water. “Tell your Captain, I will not forget his hospitality nor will any of my eight brothers.”

The man paled. “What brings you to our island? To rape our women and pillage our churches?”

“No.” Bram rose and tucked the small blade into his boot. “To find my bride.”

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

 

Signup for my Newsletter and pick from one of my ebooks listed on my subscription page as a free gift and you’ll get advanced notice of sales, contests, and more: http://andrearcoopersubscribe.instapage.com/

Author Photo AndreaAndrea R. Cooper writes fantasy, paranormal, historical and romantic suspense.

Her favorite childhood memories revolved around creating vibrant characters for her friends, and then acting out their adventures. Inside her fantasy worlds of darkened forests, dragon-filled glades, and iced islands, nothing was banned. From the ethereal Elvin to the most maligned Vampires, all were welcome in her fictional realities, a stark contrast to her home, where the magical and mythical was forbidden.

 

My Sexy Saturday – Historical romance #MSS108

Welcome to My Sexy Saturday!

5AmazonToday, I’m sharing a snippet from my historical romance novella, The Proxy

“Lady Caroline,” the proxy said. “Call me Nicholas.”

She shrugged her shoulders wasn’t that what the priest had called him during their vows? Her headache pounded against her skull. What did it matter his name? He was a servant…a stand-in for her feeble husband.

“You’ll like the baron, I think. Might not be pleasing to the eye but he is a kind man and has always treated his servants fairly.”

“He does not beat them?” Caroline had hope that at least, he may not beat her. If he was kind to his servants, then how much more so to his wife and mother of his children?

“No, he has never struck any of us. Even those that might have deserved it. His enemies, though, he fought in many battles, but lost the taste of bloodshed along with his youth.”

“Tell me more about him.” Caroline moved her wedding gown and crossed her legs as she sat on the bed. Give her some glimmer of hope that her marriage was not as bad as she feared.

“First,” Nicholas closed the door, “the guests will expect a piece of your wedding dress for luck.”

 

Signup for my Newsletter and pick from one of my ebooks listed on my subscription page as a free gift and you’ll get advanced notice of sales, contests, and more: http://andrearcoopersubscribe.instapage.com/

To “hop” to the next blog, visit:  http://www.mysexysaturday.blogspot.com/

Author Photo AndreaAndrea R. Cooper writes fantasy, paranormal, historical and romantic suspense.

Her favorite childhood memories revolved around creating vibrant characters for her friends, and then acting out their adventures. Inside her fantasy worlds of darkened forests, dragon-filled glades, and iced islands, nothing was banned. From the ethereal Elvin to the most maligned Vampires, all were welcome in her fictional realities, a stark contrast to her home, where the magical and mythical was forbidden.