It is my pleasure to welcome the award-winning, multi-talented author, Miriam Minger to Conversations today. She's here to talk about her historical romance novel, The Pagan's Prize from her Captive Brides Collection. So, check out the cover, blurb, excerpt and Q&A!
The Pagan's Prize
(Captive Brides Collection)
Fall in love with the powerful Viking warriors and ruggedly handsome Crusader knights of Miriam Minger's CAPTIVE BRIDES COLLECTION: Twin Passions, Captive Rose, and The Pagan's Prize!
THE PAGAN'S PRIZE - The bold Viking warrior Rurik traveled alone on a mission of conquest. But along the way a golden-haired captive inflamed him with longing. He took up his sword to defend her…then swore to claim her for his own.
A beautiful Russian princess betrayed by treachery, Zora spurned the powerful man who held her prisoner—and vowed never to yield. He had been sent as a spy to pave the way for her people’s surrender. But his furious hunger for her heated touch—and her aching need for his burning caress—led to a fiery passion that was a greater prize than any kingdom.
***Best Medieval Historical Romance of the Year Award from Romantic Times***
"Another fine example of Ms. Minger's amazing talent. I thoroughly enjoyed it!" - New York Times bestselling author Johanna Lindsey
"Brilliantly imaginative! The Pagan's Prize will totally engross the reader." - I'll Take Romance
"Five stars...It is filled with rich detail that takes the reader on a rare trip to Russia in the eleventh century and is told so skillfully that the reader feels as if they have been there. The Pagan's Prize should be at the top of your shopping list!" - Affaire de Coeur
"Outstanding! This is a well-written, moving story that shows the tremendous skill of the author. Marvelous barely describes my feelings." - Rendezvous
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Excerpt from The Pagan's Prize
“You’re a spy, aren’t you?” Zora accused, not surprised when Rurik briefly met her eyes. “For Yaroslav, my uncle.”
He did not answer, but she knew from the way he clenched his jaw that she had guessed the truth.
“And I?” she demanded. “What have I become, Lord Rurik?”
His blunt reply was horribly final, and Zora was seized by sudden desperation. “Please…” she begged, though it galled her that she even found it within herself to do so. “Please let me go. What use can I be to Grand Prince Yaroslav? He must know that I am a—”
“Enough!” Rurik cut in harshly. “It is not my authority to release you. The grand prince alone can decide your fate. I only escort you to him.”
Zora held her reckless tongue then. She must keep calm; use her head. It was a good thing that he had interrupted her before she had given away her baseborn status. A very good thing.
If she had revealed to him that she was a bastard daughter, Rurik might think her less valuable and decide that he could still take liberties with her. It was possible. He had assaulted her when he thought her a mere concubine, hadn’t he? Usually, bastards counted as no more than slaves in Rus, and even though her father had offered an incredible reward for her, Rurik might hold the more common view.
Suddenly an idea came to her, filling her with nervous excitement and almost bringing a smile to her lips.
Why not make this journey as difficult for him as possible? Since he must protect her until they reached Novgorod, he would be loathe to touch her or punish her no matter what she did to frustrate him. And frustrate him she would! This pagan would wish a thousand times that he had left her in Chernigov!
Now Zora did smile. If she escaped somewhere along the route to Novgorod, so much the better. How humiliating it would be for him to return to her uncle’s kreml with the news that he had captured her, but she had eluded him! If Rurik was a lord indeed, as his title suggested, her escape would discredit him. A proud Varangian warrior bested by a mere woman! He would be dishonored forever.
Zora glanced furtively at Rurik to find that he was paying her no heed, his expression grim and his gaze narrowed as if searching the forest for signs of danger.
Why not begin? It would make a fine test and maybe, if she was lucky, she would bring some of her father’s troops down upon them. They might still be close enough to Chernigov that someone might hear her.
Inhaling deeply, Zora let out such a piercing scream that a flock of blackbirds perched high in the branches above them took to the sky, screeching and cawing in protest. Rurik was so startled that she managed to scream once more, this time right in his ear, before he could clap his hand over her mouth.
“By Odin, woman, what are you trying to do?” he shouted, his face flushed dark with anger. Yanking the gag back into her mouth, he called to his warriors. “The wench might have given away our position. Ride hard, men, as if the black hounds of Hel were upon us! They might be now!”
Zora gasped as Rurik jerked her hard against his chest and kicked his mount into a faster canter, his tone menacing as he added, “And if they find us, wench, I swear—”
“I hope they do find us!” she retorted in spite of her gag, and to enrage him further, she started to laugh.
“Minx! Do you think this a game? Thor’s blood, royal princess or no, you’ll soon discover that you’ve more than met your match!”
“So will you, you cloddish pagan,” Zora replied under her breath, grinning just for his benefit. “So will you.”
Electronic Version Copyright © 2010 by Miriam Minger
Q&A about The Pagan's Prize
What inspired you to write The Pagan’s Prize?
I love Viking stories! My first historical romance Twin Passions was a Viking novel in honor of my Norwegian heritage. Ever since I visited Norway with my Norwegian grandmother Bodvild when I was 17 years old, I had dreamed of writing a novel set in that amazingly beautiful country with its deep fjords, thundering waterfalls, and towering mountains. Along every fjord I envisioned dragon-prowed Viking ships and ruggedly handsome Vikings manning the oars, and I even fell in love with a Norwegian sailor. What more evocative setting could I find for my very first romance novel--and when I made a big jump to a new publisher I decided it was the perfect time to write my second Viking historical romance, The Pagan’s Prize. But instead of revisiting Norway I set the story in Russia, which has a history rich in Viking lore.
What challenges did you face in researching The Pagan’s Prize?
The Vikings traveled far and wide in search of plunder and wealth and to establish trading settlements, and I became intrigued by their forays into Russia and beyond. I had never seen such a setting done before in a Viking historical romance so I dove into researching the book at the New York Public Library. The only problem: Most of the historical texts were in Russian! Keep in mind this was some time before the Internet as The Pagan’s Prize was originally published in 1993. I continued researching and digging and discovered such a rich and unusual history of the Vikings in Russia that I found myself amazed by it all. It was truly a thrill to write that novel and bring such a fascinating era in history alive for my readers.
What’s up ahead for you?
The ebook revolution is such an exciting time for authors, and I’m thrilled to have made my entire backlist of ten award-winning historical romances available to a global audience. I have also published my first straight-to-ebook romantic thriller Ripped Apart to rave five-star reviews! I’m also very excited about e-publishing my Little Mike and Maddie series of three children’s picture books about a lovable pair of dogs and their motorcycle escapades, written under my pen name Miriam Aronson.
My plan for 2014 is to write short stories, novellas, and a full-length novel in several different genres just for the fun of it and to surprise my readers. So come along for a wonderful adventure with my Miriam Minger books!
Miriam Minger's first novel Twin Passions was called "A fabulous debut!" by Romantic Times. Since then, Miriam has swept readers into her unforgettable historical romances with her strong, forceful heroes and fiery heroines. She is the winner of several Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Awards--including Best Medieval Historical Romance of the Year for The Pagan's Prize--and a two-time RITA Award Finalist for A Hint of Rapture and Captive Rose.
Miriam Minger's contemporary novel Ripped Apart, "An absolute gem of a romantic suspense. Five Stars!" has won rave reviews from romance and thriller readers alike. Miriam is also happy to announce that her Little Mike and Maddie series of children's picture books about a lovable pair of dogs and their motorcycle adventures is available under her pen name, Miriam Aronson.
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