Welcome to Favorite Friday! Today I’m featuring one of my favorite authors and Colorado Romance Writers sister, Helen Hardt! Helen writes award-winning contemporary, historical, paranormal and erotic romance. Welcome, Helen!
Lori, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I’m excited about the re-release of my Daughters of the Prairie series. These are American western historical novellas, and they follow the lives of two sisters on the Dakota prairie, and the daughter of the older sister in the Black Hills.
Today I’m showcasing the third book in the series, Song of the Raven. One commenter will receive an ecopy.
About ten years ago, we took a family trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We saw Mt. Rushmore, of course, and it’s as awe-inspiring as anyone can imagine. Equally awe-inspiring is the regal, though still unfinished, monument to Crazy Horse carved into another mountain in the Black Hills. Funding is sparse for this project, so it’s being carved in stages. When we visited a few years later, further work had been done on the sculpture, yet it was still incomplete.
This journey inspired me to begin writing what would become Song of the Raven. I researched as I wrote. In the meantime, I completed the first two novellas in the series, The Outlaw’s Angel and Lessons of the Heart. Oddly, though I started Song first, I actually completed it last, partially because so much research was required to make sure the Lakota Sioux traditions were historically accurate.
I began my research with Crazy Horse and his life and times. As I wrote, I named the father of my hero Black Elk, until I found through my research that Black Elk was a famous Lakota Medicine Man during this time period. I didn’t want to confuse any readers who might know this, so I changed the father of my hero to Standing Elk. My hero, Silver Raven, got his name from a non-pigmented streak that appeared in his hair at birth. Though his infant hair fell out and the new hair grew in onyx black, he kept the name Raven due to the bird’s significance to practical joking in the Lakota tradition. My hero likes to joke a bit.
Native American lore fascinates me, and researching this story was both exciting and humbling. The Lakota were and are a noble people and much can be learned from their ways of life. My stepfather shared my interest in all things Native American, and when he passed away in 2002 I inherited his complete set of the Time Life Books American Indians series. Although these books are dated, they’re an excellent resource on Native American history. If you want to really get the feel for the Lakota Sioux, though, visit the Black Hills. As the sun sets on the silhouette of Crazy Horse carved into the silver rock, you just may feel the Great Spirit guiding you.
Wow! That sounds like an amazing trip, Helen. I’ve always wanted to visit the Black Hills and the Lakota absolutely fascinate me. Your Daughters of the Prairie series sounds awesome. I can’t wait to read Song of the Raven! Here is the book’s blurb and an excerpt for your enjoyment! Be sure to comment for a chance at a free copy!
Song of the Raven
Ella Morgan loves her mother and father, but she’s grown weary of their overbearing protectiveness. She longs for excitement, adventure, and most of all, love. When she finds an injured Lakota warrior hiding in her barn, she’s intrigued by the brave and handsome man.
Silver Raven has found his soul mate in the woman with eyes the color of violets at first bloom. Can he convince her to leave her home and family and take her rightful place as his woman? Or will Ella’s father and the prejudices of society keep them apart?
Ella’s mouth dropped open as she stared into Raven’s smoldering gaze. When he lowered his head and took her lips with his, she didn’t resist.
The sensation of his tongue in her mouth was new and different. But not unpleasant. Oh, no, not at all. It was hot, so hot, and she tasted him. Raven. Slightly sweet, like cinnamon sprinkled over a tart apple. He explored her mouth, touching every crevice. When she tried to speak, to ask what to do, only wordless sounds, muffled by his mouth over hers, emerged.
If only she knew how to please him. She wanted to kiss him back, to tangle her tongue with his. To grasp his strong shoulders and pull him ever closer until nothing could separate them.
Such impure thoughts! But she didn’t chide herself, because only seconds later she couldn’t think at all. She only felt. Felt with all her body, all her heart, all her soul, that she wanted Raven. Wanted to be with him. In every way a woman could be with a man. She boldly forced her tongue into his mouth. He groaned and tightened his arms around her. Instinctively, she knew her actions pleased him. And she wanted to please him. In all her life, she had never wanted anything more.
She let her tongue wander over his teeth, caress the inside of his cheeks. When he pulled back, panting, she traced his full lips, first the upper, then the lower, and she reveled in his moans. She smiled against his mouth.
“Do I please you?” she whispered.
“Always, tehila.” His breath caressed her cheek. “Always.”
She sighed and turned her head to draw a much needed breath. To no avail, however. When Raven pressed a trail of wet kisses down the side of her neck, she lost her air once more.
“Will you let me show you,” he whispered, “some of the wonders that exist between a man and a woman?”
“I-Isn’t that what you’re doing?” Ella barely recognized her own voice. It seemed lower, earthier.
“Yes, but there is more than kissing. I can take you to the stars and back. If you will allow me.” He rained kisses over both her cheeks, then found a place below her ear and nibbled. Ella’s skin heated, yet she shivered. Such sweet contradiction.
“I don’t understand.”
“Surely, you know what occurs in the marriage bed?” Raven untied the string binding her braid and slowly tunneled his fingers through her thick locks. The gentle tugging of her hair, the warmth of his hands on her scalp—all good, all touched her soul.
“Y-yes. Of course.” She knew of the physical act. She inhaled deep. What a warm night!
Raven’s chuckle tickled her neck. “Would you enjoy soaring into the sky with me, tehila? I could lead you to places you have never dreamed of, all without taking your maidenhead. Just say the word, and I will.”
Whew! That was quite a spicy proposition! Thanks so much for this sneak peek into Ella and Raven’s world! Click here to purchase your own copy of Song of the Raven!
Helen Hardt Bio
Helen Hardt is an attorney and stay-at-home mom turned award-winning romance author and freelance fiction editor. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance from her home in Colorado. Her contemporary western romance, Ivy League Cowboy, just won the 2012 RomCon Readers’ Crown award. Visit Helen at www.helenhardt.com, www.helenhardt.blogspot.com, and www.fiction-editor.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenhardt.