About The Guardian's Promise (released March 1, 2014):A Kingdom in Jeopardy.
An evil queen and her royal guards will stop at nothing to find—and kill—the rightful heir to the throne of Judah. When their pursuit leads them to Mira's village, only her father's bond servant, Ari, a man shrouded in secrets, can keep Mira safe.
Abandoning his life as a temple guard and becoming an indentured servant was the only way Ari could protect young Joash, the true King of Judah, from Queen Athaliah. But his sacred duty prevents him from confessing his feelings for his master's daughter. With the future of their nation on the line, Ari and Mira will risk everything to save their people.
Excerpt from The Guardian's Promise:
Instinct told him to rush into the hidden cove and wrap his arms around Mira, to fuse her so deep inside his soul that he’d never have to worry over her well-being again.
Instead, he tamped down his urges with steely self-control. The fear that had prodded him to race the distance from Caleb’s house refused to be soothed. He continued to shake. No matter what he’d heard with his very ears, no matter that he’d felt Mira’s presence, he still continued to shake.
“They are safe. They are safe,” he chanted to himself. “Thank you, Lord.”
Ari breathed deeply, and then exhaled. One step. Two. Three, and then four. One long stride and he exited the long pathway and stood inside the entrance to the cove. He gazed with awe at this proud woman prostrate before her young king. No wonder Joash sounded bewildered. Even he had no idea who he really was.
A ray of light filtered through the windows carved hundreds of years ago. The light illuminated her beauty as locks of unveiled burnished gold cloaked her frame and Joash’s feet. It reminded him of the first time he’d seen her.
“Mira, I beg of thee, rise,” the child’s voice quavered, then as if he had just become aware of Ari’s presence, Joash turned his dark, frightened gaze to him.
“Ari, you came! I knew you would.” Joash ran to him, leaving Mira where she knelt. The child propelled his small body into Ari’s thighs and wrapped his arms around his legs. Ari lifted him in his arms and hugged him tight, but not once had he taken his eyes from Mira.
“Did you, now?” Ari asked.
“Yes, of course, Ari. You promised, remember?”
He smiled at the boy and dropped a kiss to his head and then set him on his feet. Joash shifted his gaze between Ari and Mira. He shuffled his feet as if he were about to be chastised. At last, Mira turned her head and peered through the tresses hanging around her. Ari grinned as he ruffled Joash’s unruly mop of curls. Mira rose to her knees and pushed back her hair.
“I know I should not have shown Mira the ring, but I wanted to ease her worries.”
A hearty laughter burst from Ari’s gut as he took in the wariness and shock on her face. “And did you?”
Joash stared at Mira for a few long seconds before he answered. “I do not think so, Ari.”
He laughed once again. “No, I do not believe you did either, my young friend.”
“Will you forgive me?” Joash said with genuine concern. “I know I was not to show anyone the map or the ring, but—” Joash dropped his gaze to the floor.
Ari hugged him closer. “There is naught to forgive. You did as you thought necessary.” His eyes fell upon Mira. “Rise, Mira, before your knees become sore.”
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Gallant ScoreIf Ari were alive about 1200 years later, he would have been a knight. So much of his gallantry is tied up on polar ends of sacrifice. From giving up his rights and role as a temple priest to be the secret body guard of the heir to the throne of Judah, to having to do so as a bondservant no less, and then being a great one at that. So Ari had a gallantry score rocking orange, and that's way before we even get to how he respects and cares for Mira. There are some moments in battle, and in quiet solitude, where the reader will really get to see this aspect of his character leap off the page.
Wounded ScoreAri saw some things no one should have to see when God used him and a few others to smuggle young Joash out of Jerusalem when the bad queen went on her killing spree to begin her reign of terror. What's worse is that Ari struggles with what he could have done differently and the constant burden of placing those around him and the young king in danger. A danger that all, including Mira, are unaware of.
Softie ScoreFor as physically, mentally, and spiritually strong and well, game on all the time, that Ari is, I loved that he is really a softie. Even more so that he doesn't really feel the need to hide it. When he's interacting with young Joash like in the excerpt, gently helping Mira, even when that means forcing her to sit down, eat and rest, in a playful but perfectly serious way, hero girls like me will just feel your heart squeeze.
Stupid StrikesNope. Nothing even remotely close. I want to take a minute here to impart to you that Ari is everything you want a warrior priest child body guard in love with the master's daughter hero to be, and is perfectly believable the entire time. A little vulnerable, a little wrecked by the lying that is REQUIRED to guard the life of the future king of Judah but against everything he was taught, but never, ever anything that deserves a stupid strike.
Swoon ScoreYes. Um, I did mention delightfully loveable, warrior priest, protector of the last of the line of King David and rightful heir to the throne of Judah, yes? Oh and just so you know, I was both pleasantly surprised (and happy!!!) that for a Love Inspired title that was biblical fiction, Ari and Mira sure seem to kiss a lot, LOL. :-p And almost kiss. Oh you gotta love a great almost kiss. (Staring out over the land from the side of the mountain anyone? Or post battle in the caves? ;-) But it wasn't just that. Ari just owned me from pretty much the first chapter, and reminded me it is heroes like him that make the blog worth while. Be sure you pick up this one, hero girls. It might just change everything you think you know about biblical fiction, and category romance.
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The FHF Exclusive Directly from the AuthorNancy here, hero-girls and OH I just LOVE when we get a deleted scene!!! Here is a bit from Christina she is sharing with us. Even though it was a hard moment for Ari and Mira both, I really enjoyed how Ari's wit and sense of humor crept in anyway. One of the many reasons I snapped him up for the blog.
“Do not move.” An angel with a gentle touch to his shoulder prodded him back to the soft mat of his bedding. He’d never heard of angels ministering to the dead before, especially one as breathtaking as this one. If only he could tell his brothers and uncles they’d had it all wrong.
“Thir—thirsty.” His tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth.
“Here.” She lifted his head and pressed a cup to his lips.
Cool water glided over his tongue and down his throat. With the same gentleness his mother had used when he was but a boy, she laid his head back down. His mouth and throat begged for his thirst to be quenched. “More. Please?”
She reached for an earthen jug and poured more liquid into the cup. He studied her. Having never seen a celestial being before. His father had claimed all angels were giant, muscular warriors. This angel was no more than sheep fluff with a halo of dark, auburn tresses, and female. Her wide almond shaped eyes brought him comfort. Her touch soothed.
Perhaps he was in Abrahm’s Bosom after all. He shifted his weight. A hot poker shot into his leg and singed him all the way to his lungs. He gasped for air.
The angel spun around. Her eyes wide, she sat the cup down and began running her hands over his injuries. She pulled the covers off his chest and peeled back the bandages. Her sharp hiss and clucking did not bode well. She poked, prodded and replaced them with clean ones, before checking on his leg.
After long tortuous moments of enduring the added pain inflicted upon his body, she pulled the cover to his chin and sat back on her heels. “You should not move. . .”
A roar echoed in his head. Her mouth continued to move. The sound disappeared as if he’d dunked his head in a pool of water after a long battle.
“. . . dead.”
Dead? This he already knew. If only he could understand this afterlife so unlike what the rabbi’s had taught.
She lifted his head once more and brought the cup to his lips. He gazed into her human-like eyes. Her lips moved, muttering something, drawing his attention. She slipped his head back to the mat, sat the cup down and picked up a stringed instrument. The angel curled her feet beneath her and began to strum.
Oil lamps flickered in the night air, illuminating the rich reds and golds on the lyre. She strummed. Her fingers moved with grace but he could not make out the tune. He closed his eyes and concentrated on the muffled notes. Peeling his lids opened, he watched her fingers dance on the strings, his gaze roved to the hand that strummed.
He narrowed his gaze. Flashes of memory came to him. Those fingers had caressed his brow. They had served him water. They had taken up a fiery branch and warded off a vicious pack of dogs.
Fire. There had been fire at the palace, too. Torches held by Queen Athaliah’s guards as they slaughtered her son’s heirs. He recalled the mournful cries of Jerusalem at the loss of King David’s lineage. The loss of God’s covenant.
Where was he now? Was he dead or alive? Where was the babe? He could only hope the child’s nurse had gotten him to safety before the soldiers set upon them.
The angel no longer played her song. He glanced at her mangled hand before his eyes settled on her face. The oil lamps ebbed, casting the curve of her jaw and line of her nose into the shadows. “You cannot be an angel. You are maimed.”
Her gasp cut through the pounding in his head and her eyes widened with the barest of movement before she dipped her chin to her chest. With a shake of her head, she leaned the lyre against the stonewall, and rose from her position. “No, I am not an angel.” She clenched her hands into fists. Her gaze roved over his battered and beaten body. “And neither are you.”
The giveawaysSame drill as always! One copy of The Guardian's Promise, print or e-book (winner’s choice), goes to a randomly drawn commenter. Make sure you tell us if you want in the book drawing and leave an email address in a spam fighting format like: not.who.you.think.i.am (at) swordandscripture dot com
If you have already enjoyed The Guardian's Promise, a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card can be yours if you leave the name of a character from the book in your comment that is not used in the excerpt or description. (And there's plenty! Especially after they reach the caves. ;-) Again, once the character name has been used, you have to find another.
Drawings will be April 14th.
I really want to explore this rare jaunt into biblical fiction. With the Noah movie (love it or hate it, it's brought biblical fiction to the forefront of discussion lately), the Son of God movie, etc. how do you feel about authors incorporating historical biblical characters into their fiction? I want to know. =)