Maria Gonzalez is such a woman. Strong and determined, able to accept what fate throws her. She is widowed at a young age, and taken captive by people she considers as savages. Because of her blond hair and blue eyes, she is seen as an envoy from the gods and thus her life is spared. She is forced to become the wife of the Aztec ruler and slowly learns to accept her new life in this hidden city.
But her troubles aren't ended yet. The Spanish discover the hidden city and lay siege on it. In the fights her second husband also loses his life, and once more widowed she has to find a way to keep alive and save as many people she is able to. Thanks to the older Don Felipe she gets out of trouble and she accepts his hand in marriage as he is returning to Spain.
During their sea voyage, Maria and Felipe face the attack of an English privateer. Michael Fenwich, the ship's captain, takes an immediate fancy to the Spanish lady and sets out to conquer her. This is made more easy because Felipe is sent to the English court as an ambassador, trying to plead his Majesty's cause at the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
When Felipe is murdered, Maria suspects Michael of being the culprit. But she is wrong - so wrong it nearly costs her life. Only Michael will be able to save her...
And here's a teaser from the novel:
It was hot, unbearably hot. The sun’s rays pierced violently, intruding through the dense foliage. It pricked the backs of those people who were trying to make their way through the rain forest.
Maria was riding one of the few horses in the company’s possession. The foot soldiers suffered the most. They had to walk through this heathen forest, where danger lurked everywhere in the trees and undergrowth. She focused on the rider before her. The tail of his horse went up and down in a dull, recurring, almost hypnotic pattern to chase away the hundreds of insects that pestered it.
The straw hat she was wearing did not protect her from the effects of the sun. Sweat searched its way over her forehead, her eyelashes, cheeks and finally her mouth. There it left a salt taste on her lips. She was too tired to even make an attempt at wiping her brow. She looked sideways to where the padre was riding, and wondered how he, with his shaven head managed to look so cool under this oppressing heat.
“Do you think we have to travel much longer, padre?” she asked.
“Two more hours, I guess,” Padre José answered. “Just hold on for so long, my dear girl.”
The rhythmic movement of the horse’s gait, the warmth, the relentless attacks of mosquito’s and other insects – all of this brought her to a state of physical and mental exhaustion. Nothing could arouse her at this moment. Not even the sound of hacking machetes. The Indians who were their guides used them to clear the way ahead. Chak, Chak, repeated monotonously. She almost fell asleep in the saddle.
* * *
“Where have you come from?”
Manuel’s voice did not sound too friendly as he looked at his wife. She had obviously bathed, and was now tidying her hair. She smiled at him. Although her clothes were drying fast, they still showed the curves of her body. He had to look away. The way the cloth clung to her breasts…
“There’s a brook a bit further” she told him. “I could not resist freshening up. The water is so lovely! I’ve soaked my clothes as well.”
“You’re foolish, Maria! You don’t know the dangers of this forest! Besides, what must the men be thinking?”
Now she laughed aloud. “They are all busy setting up the tents, like you ordered. Rest assured, they won’t be looking at me!”
“How many times do I have to tell you not to leave the company of the others?” he went on, not hearing what she said. “I don’t want it, Maria!”
“Are you afraid that something might happen to me?” she asked, inwardly smiling at his show of feelings.
It was his pleasure to answer Maria. “Of course! I could not bear to lose you, mi cielo!”
“Neither would I.” She went over and kissed him full on the lips. “Not much longer now, cariño…”
He answered her kiss with another one, but then she tore herself free.
“Let’s eat first. Travelling sharpens the appetite!”
The Indians had angled up some fish and were now roasting them, wrapped in banana leaves, over a smothered fire of leaves and fine branches. It was not a fish they had eaten before, but the meat was white and firm and had a good taste.
“They call this fish piranha,” the Padre mentioned. “I believe the Tupi Indians in Brazil use that word too.” He had taken a lively interest in the heathen Indians. He even spoke some words of their language. This came in useful, he had once told Maria, as his aim was to convert these believers in the ancient Aztec gods to Catholicism.
“I was told that a piranha was a very small fish, which eats meat. Commandante Muñoz advised me never to put my hand into the water of any stream, because the piranha’s could snap off my fingers!” Miguel said.
“That’s true enough” the Padre agreed. “It appears though that there are various kind of piranha. The bigger fish are excellent food, as we can all tell from experience!”
They finished their evening meal with a cup of red wine, which they had brought along. Not much later most of the men retired to the tents to sleep.
Miguel and Maria remained by the fire for a while longer. Being responsible for his soldiers, the captain had to make sure that everything was in order and that the guards on night watch had been posted. When he was satisfied, he took his wife by the hand.
“Let’s go to bed, mi esposa.”
As soon as he had closed the flap of the tent, he flashed his white teeth. “You made me a promise, madam! Are you ready to make good of your word?”
She did not say anything, but slowly unfastened the laces which tied the skirts to her bodice. For comfort on their travels, she was only wearing one skirt above her shift, and it was made in a practical and light material. Miguel came closer and helped her to untie the long sleeves, after which he continued to open up the bodice. His fingers played with her breasts while doing so. At last she was only wearing the thin shift, which did nothing to hide the curves of her delicious body. His Maria was a beauty, he thought. From her Flemish ancestors she had inherited the blonde hair and blue eyes. Her breasts were round and firm and her hips promised easy birth-giving.
He gave her a playful kiss and then started to get out of his uniform as well. Finally he pulled her down on the makeshift bed. Slowly his fingers picked up the hem of the shift and caressingly he pulled it over her head. He kissed her again, more passionately this time.
“How gorgeous you are” he sighed. “And mine alone…”
He began to fondle her milky-cream breasts. His thumb touched a nipple and started to rub it enticingly. She leaned back against the cushion, to better feel the hardness of his body. She grabbed hold of him.
“Ahh!” she let out as her heart started to beat faster. His lips now descended upon her breast and his warm tongue left a trace of burning desire. Then his head went lower, to her navel and slowly, teasingly lower and lower… Before she had been married, Maria had never suspected that such delights between man and woman existed. Her aunt Francesca had been trying to prepare her for her marriage, but she had only spoken of duty. “It is God’s will, my dear,” she had explained “that wives should endure the carnal desires of their husband. I always close my eyes, and silently pray to Our Lord.”
Not a word about lust, about desire. It was only after their marriage that she had experienced this wonder. Now she knew that a man’s body could actually give delight. She was not shy anymore and loved to look at the nakedness of Miguel, with the hard proof of his desire so clearly visible.
Now his tongue was licking her love bud, and she let out moans of desire.
“Oh, yes, please” she begged. “Come into me, mi amor!”
He was about to comply, when all hell broke loose.
You can purchase the book from the publisher, Rogue Phoenix Press, or buy it on Amazon. There is both a paperback version and an ebook one.