Introducing the Naughty Literati! Who are the Naughty Literati, you ask? We are a group of steamy romance writers who have banded together to produce excellent stories, stories so hot, so cool, so unique, so special that they deserve special treatment. We plan to give the world--the romance reading world, that is--four anthologies annually--more or less.
Naughty List, our first boxed set, of course has a winter holiday theme, but this is far from your usual vapid fare about kissing under the mistletoe and random sex at office Christmas parties. No--we have stories from the steamiest erotica to the most heart-warming happily ever after. We have medievals and futuristics, ménages and committed couples rediscovering love. You want romance? You want hot sex? We have it all.
And, of course, we also have holiday food, glorious food. And why not? Our winter memories often focus on food, from Halloween candy through the Thanksgiving feast to candy canes at Christmas to Champagne at New Year’s, and hot chocolate anytime.
In Viking in Tartan, my medieval tale of a vampire and clanswoman finding love--and each other--little Clan Kilbirnie celebrates a Yuletide wedding with what were traditional Scottish goodies: roasted lamb with a sauce made of berries and rosemary along with wheat boiled in broth and some haggis. Roasted rabbit and fish from the chilly ponds rounded out the meal, with both a sweet and a savory custard ending all.
Here’s the excerpt:
And that eve, Da joined them, reciting the solemn but joyous words that would bind her to her Viking warrior forever. She glanced around. Their Great Hall wasna so great, but on this afternoon the servants had outdone themselves. They’d cleared away the remains of the previous night’s revelry and decorated every table, mantel and window ledge with fresh evergreen and holly boughs. Their fragrance and bright berries lent a festive atmosphere to the ceremony. Pale moonlight struggled through the few arrow slits uncovered by tapestries.
A fire crackled and glowed, fed by the great Yule log that smoldered in the hearth. She was relieved to notice that because the storm wind had died down, the chimney didna smoke—for they were standing in front of the hearth for the short ceremony.
Clearly aware of the event’s importance, Erland had cleaned his boots, combed his long hair and shaved with a borrowed razor. He had found the largest plaid available and, with her brother’s help, had pleated it into a kilt and wore it belted atop immaculate linen borrowed from her da. The shirt almost fit, Da having gained more than a little weight as he’d aged.
Everyone had washed and was clad in their best. She’d done her part, choosing her finest cyrtel for the event. ’Twas fashioned of a soft red wool that looked especially well with her dark hair and eyes.
Erland looked down, caught her glance and smiled gently, in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion. She smiled back, her heart warmed, her pride swelling. Her man was an unexpected treasure. He’d already shown he could defend as well as love her. And he’d managed to get on with Da and Keith, despite his Viking heritage.
What would their bairns be like? Though she was still a mite sore, she could scarce wait to have Erland again and begin their new life.
How everything had changed in less than a day! She found it hard to remember she’d been willing to die rather than be joined to a man she detested. Indeed, she had promised herself she’d never wed, would never allow herself to be used as a pawn in her da’s schemes.
And she hadna. Fate had chosen her man. But how she had fallen so swiftly for Erland?
She wrenched her mind away from her stray, tumbling thoughts when Da wrapped a swatch of Kilbirnie plaid around their crossed wrists, joining them.
They kissed but briefly, with Rhona mindful of her da and brother watching.
The onlookers’ cheers bounced off the hall’s stone walls before everyone broke ranks to hug her and Erland. He looked a bit startled before he accepted the clan’s embrace.
|Image by Dante Gabriel Rosetti,
from Wikimedia Commons
She hoped that amity would continue. Scots and Vikings were fierce enemies, due to the Northmen’s frequent raids. Though the Kilbirnie clan was small and their lands lay in the south and west of Scotland—farther away from Scandinavia—they nevertheless lived in fear of the raiders. The Vikings dominated the islands to the west and north and were a force to be reckoned with.
She shunted all that aside to enjoy her wedding feast. Da had ordered a young sheep, one of the lambs born the previous spring, slaughtered so they ate it roasted with a sauce made of berries and rosemary along with wheat boiled in broth and some haggis. Roasted rabbit and fish from the chilly ponds rounded out the meal, with both a sweet and a savory custard ending all. Everyone noisily crowded around the tables to share the bounty.
Buy the boxed set here:
Here’s a recipe for the custard that Clan Kilbirnie may have eaten that long-ago Yule:
1/2 c honey
2 c fresh milk
1 tsp finely ground sea saltGround cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Mix the ingredients together and bake until firm. In the 13th century, Clan Kilbirnie would not have had ovens, not even a primitive one. So the cauldron containing the custard would have been placed on the kitchen hearth for the baking.
About Suz deMello:
Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello,
a.k.a Sue Swift, has written seventeen romance novels in several subgenres,
including erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a
number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance
editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working
for such firms as Totally Bound and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.
Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two,
attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.
A former trial attorney, her passion is world
travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working
overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.
--Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com
--For editing services, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
--Befriend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SuzDeMello
--She tweets @Suzdemello
--Her current blog is http://www.TheVelvetLair.com