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Promise Me Christmas by Gini Rifkin is a Christmas and Holiday Festival pick #holidayreads #giveaway

Title: Promise Me Christmas

Author: Gini Rifkin

Genre: Historical Romance

Book Blurb:

The nights are growing longer and the winter snows are coming—Darkenwald Castle is under siege.

Lord Guy Blackthorne is prepared to lay down his life for his children, his wife, and all who seek his protection. But as renegades, mercenaries, and political intrigue surround his ancient family stronghold, he’s forced to stay his hand against those who would dare to attack his fortress.

As supplies and hope dwindle, Lady Vespa fears Yule will not be one of good cheer, and the children shall have no gifts this year. At least she and Guy have one another, for that she is thankful. But there are few private moments to share their love, and every endeavor to satisfy their passion is interrupted when the enemy attempts to invade the castle.

On Christmas Eve, when a battle to the death begins, Guy faces his greatest challenge. Now Vespa’s wish for a happy Yule celebration turns to a prayer for her beloved’s safety.


Northumbria, England, December 1264

I can feel it in the air, Thomas. Like the land is holding its breath.” Lord Guy Blackthorne directed his remark to the man riding at his side.

Thomas glanced at the murky forest nearby. “Far be it from me to doubt your words. In the past, your deep awareness of our surroundings has saved our backsides more than a time or two.”

As they traversed the cleared area surrounding Castle Darkenwald, Guy’s gelding tossed its head and sidestepped a few paces. Did the gray brindle also sense trouble brewing? Guy trusted his horse’s reactions nearly as much as the unease twisting through his gut.

The renegade barons roaming Mercia were now reported to be heading toward Northumbria. Thankfully, Guy had taken the safeguard of sending a runner south to alert his brother. And the perimeter sentry he’d posted had yet to see anyone lurking about. All remained peaceful on his hundred. Still, at the moment, the feeling of disquiet spoke otherwise, and he was glad today he had ordered the castle soldiers to train outside, and his bowmen to be stationed on the battlements.

A large group of villagers and tenants had recently come to Darkenwald seeking protection, and this morning, several of them labored outside near the castle walls collecting the last of the dried garden herbs and sweet chestnuts. His wife, Vespa, was among those toiling on this temperate winter day. The sight of her gladdened his heart, just as her touch this morning when they were still abed, had pleased his body and heartened his soul—a recollection to be cherished.

At the sudden warning blast from the border guard’s hunting horn, Guy jerked to attention. His pleasant memories were crushed, replaced with his worst nightmare. The distant and unmistakable sound of men and horses crashing through the forest soon followed.

The call to arms he’d sensed coming was upon them.

“Run, Vespa. And don’t look back until you reach the castle. Do you hear me, Vespa? Run, and don’t look back.”

✠ ✠ ✠ ✠

Her husband, Lord Guy Blackthorne, sounded roaring mad, his words sharp with worry for her safety and ringing with anger for this unprovoked attack.

“I hear you,” she shouted to him. And dear Lord, keep him safe, she silently added.

Released from shocked immobility, Vespa scrambled over the rough terrain, her desperate plea echoing through her mind. Keep him safe, keep him safe, keep him safe.

Not daring to glance back at the man she loved with all of her heart, she gritted her teeth and ran harder, faster. Guy would watch her progress all the way to the stronghold risking his own wellbeing, dividing his attention until he knew she was out of danger.

The soles of her everyday footwear offered poor protection from the sharp stones, and she nearly tripped over an abandoned basket spilling forth the sweet chestnuts they’d been gathering.

Farther up the stony incline, her friend Edith urged her onward. Reaching the woman, she grasped the extended hand, and side by side they rushed to the entrance of the barbican. Only then, did Vespa stop and turn to witness the carnage unleashed beyond the castle proper. Her husband had survived many a battle—today was her first encounter with the ugly face of warfare.

Sword drawn and turning his beloved gray gelding to face the enemy, Guy made a stand, buying time for all who had been caught outside the protective walls. He rallied the house soldiers to fight for their heartland, and as metal met metal, voices cried out in pain and triumph, and the ravens circled the battlefield.

Outnumbered, Guy and his soldiers fought with their hearts and souls as well as their swords as they defended the land and their families. By shear will, they drove the traitors and mercenaries back into the surrounding woods. And when the last of the villagers who’d come seeking protection flooded through the castle gate, Guy called for his men to also return to Darkenwald.

First to the battle line and last to retreat, Guy then ordered the portcullis to be lowered as he followed behind his men. In a hail of arrows and riding for all he was worth, he barely crossed the threshold as the obedient guardsmen in the tower sent the heavy iron grillwork crashing to the ground.

They were safe—safe and trapped inside.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

Share a holiday family tradition:

Among other decorations, always hang up the stocking Mom made me many many years ago, and we light the sweet ceramic Christmas tree she also made.

Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood?

Promise Me Christmas is a heartwarming story of love and honor and keeping one’s promise, all wrapped in a medieval adventure sprinkled with humor and sweet romantic moments.

Giveaway –

One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card

Open internationally.

Runs December 1 – 31

Drawing will be held on January 2, 2024.

Author Biography:

Gini Rifkin writes stories of love and adventure. Her settings include the American West, Medieval England, Victorian England, and Contemporary Thriller and Fantasy. When not reading or writing, she has the privilege of caring for a menagerie of abandoned animals including ducks, goats, donkeys, and cats. Among other honors, she has received two Excellence in Writing awards from The Colorado Author’s League, and The Beverley Award from Romance Writers of the Rockies. When time allows, she is trying to master the art of spinning and weaving goat hair. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.

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