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Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Spotlight: Keena Kincaid

A good book has no ending
--R.D. Cumming

I find my favorite book is the one that’s just been released. By the time it comes out, enough time has passed for me to forget the agony of writing and revising it. Instead, I rediscover what drew me to the characters in the first place and am again left content with their happily ever after.

When I sat down to write Ami and William’s story, this scene came to me first. It’s still one of my favorites in the book. Here’s a shortened version of that scene:

William saw her at the same time he heard Aedan’s curse. Ami stood in the doorway, surveying the room as if it were hers. His heart thumped against his ribs, and the undefined anxiety turned sharp in his chest. Even amidst the crowd of overdressed popinjays, she stood out like an angel among heretics, alluring and disconcerting at the same time.

In subtle rebellion, she’d left off a wimple. Braids the color of captured night fell over her shoulders and back, the darkness emphasizing her rich, creamy complexion and barely blue eyes.

Ami’s beauty was neither conventional nor fashionable, but timeless. The contrast of fair skin and dark hair emphasized the faint luminosity of her complexion and strengthened the strong angles of her cheeks and jaw. The defiant tilt of her chin was softened only by the curve of her mouth, which even now begged to be kissed.

And every man in the room wanted to grant that plea. …

One of Carlisle’s guards took Ami’s hand, and the threat died on William’s tongue. Grinning, Ami danced toward the man, a swirl of color. Her smoky blue dress, trimmed at the sleeves with brightly dyed feathers, swallowed the torchlight and pulled his gaze to her as if she were the lone candle in the room.

His skin prickled, turned hot and tight. She moved like vapor made liquid, winking in and out of shadows as dark as her curls. The summer-weight wool clung to her frame as she lifted her arms and twirled. His mouth dried.

Heat flared over the room. Fabric hugged the firm roundness of her breasts and skimmed along the flare of her hips, leaving nothing to his imagination. Or anyone else’s. Coldly, William noted the name of each man who gazed on his sister with the wrong intent.

Laughter erupted beside him. “Relax. She is just having fun.”

William forced his shoulders against the wall, letting the cool stone hold him in place. “’Tis the feathers. She attracts the wrong attention with such frivolous adornments. The men think she is unchaste.”

“They hope it, to be sure.” Aedan’s eyes widened at the glare William threw him. “As one of us, she is free to do what she wills with their attention.”

“Bran may think she is your sister, but I am unconvinced.”

“You do not wish to be.”

“Why would I? What brother says his sister is free to be a whore? You may swive anyone who breathes, but—”

“Not anyone. I never touched Eleanor.”

William ignored the jab. “Ami was raised better.”             

“I grew up in a monastery.” Aedan slanted a merry grin at him. “You get no better than that.”

“And she does not like you.” Even as he spoke, an edged guilt passed through William. Ami had been chary of Aedan at first meeting, almost irrationally so. He’d encouraged her aversion to protect her from his charms even as he’d begun to suspect the kinship ties between her and the minstrel.

“She does not need to like me.” Aedan shifted his weight, moved closer, then whispered. “But she needs to know the truth.”

“Bran said—”

“My brother is over-cautious, always seeing death and dying.” Aedan punctuated his words with a dismissive wave of his hand. “’Twill not be disastrous if anyone other than you tells her the truth. She is stronger than Bran thinks, and if you lack the courage for honesty, I will tell her.”

“Tell her and face me.” William shifted to stand between Aedan and Ami. “She may not be blood, but I have loved and protected her for a lifetime as if she were my true sister. I will kill the man who thinks to nullify that.”

Aedan opened his mouth to argue, and William strode away before he did something stupid, like murdered Ami’s brother at her feet. Midway across the hall, he found her among the revelers and stopped—close enough to almost touch, but far enough away to resist the temptation.

Ami hadn’t seen him. Yet. She twirled, absorbed in the moment and glowing with joy. William knew its source went far beyond her love of dance. She possessed a power akin to Aedan’s. One he couldn’t deny, even though he knew Ami would if ever confronted. Not since childhood had she talked about the strange colors she saw or run to him in fear of the ghost she swore walked the old Roman ruins.

Aedan was as uncaring of his otherness as a beggar of his stench. But Ami would never have the luxury of being different. Nor was she as strong as Aedan supposed. Like plate armor marred in the making, a weakness ran through Ami that would shatter her if not protected. …

Ami turned a half circle and hesitated. Her gaze met his, and a smile lit her face. She glided to him, breaking the pattern of the dance without a thought. “Dance with me.”

“I cannot.”

She snatched his hand. Heat scorched his skin, ignited his groin. Ami gasped. Her pupils widened, darkened. Sweat licked along his spine. He held his breath and counted his heartbeats as she circled him. If he moved, he’d burst. And if his life didn’t end in a flash of blood and fire, his stiff-legged gait would telegraph his desires.

Rigid, he watched her step closer. Her hand trembled against his. Heat poured from her body, flushing her cheeks, dampening the curls that clung to the smooth skin of her neck. Her touch turned hotter, and he jerked away from the small flame at her fingertips.

For a moment, she stood as if suspended in time. Liquid horror poured into her eyes, and she stepped away. Fisting her fingers, she let a sallow-faced knight pull her back into the circle.

William ignored the urge to go after her and ease the shame and ache he knew she felt whenever she slipped. He didn’t dare touch her again.

Keena Kincaid, the author of four romance novels set in 12th century England, will be at LASR all week talking about her newest novel, ENTHRALLED. Leave a comment on one of her blogs and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a copy of her book at the end of the week. She’ll be giving away two ebooks and one signed print edition.
Her topics:
·         Monday: Eleanor of Aquitaine
·         Tuesday: William of Ravenglas
·         Wednesday: Amilia of Ravenglas
·         Thursday: Magic and Marriage in the Middle Ages
·         Today: The First Scene

Her books are available from The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble online as well as anywhere ebooks are sold. You also can fan or friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog, Typos and All.


StephB said...

Keena, I just started the book last night and read this scene. It's very vibrant, not only capturing the setting and the mood, but there's a lot of longing and unspoken emotion as well. It's a great start to the novel!


Keena Kincaid said...

Thanks, steph. It was the scene that came to me and set the conflict and mood for the rest of the story. I'm glad you like it.

Morgan Mandel said...

Well, now you've got me guessing who she'll end up with, but I'm cheering for William.

Morgan Mandel

Pat Cochran said...

Methinks there is going to be a
great deal of emotion expended before a HEA is attained!

Pat Cochran