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Promise Me Christmas by Gini Rifkin is a Christmas in July Fete pick #99cents #medievalromance #christmasinjuly #giveaway

Title: Promise Me Christmas


Author: Gini Rifkin


Genre: Medieval 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.


   As they traversed the open 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.


    His wife, Vespa, was among those toiling on this temperate winter day collecting herbs and sweet chestnuts just outside the castle. 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. The distant sound of men and horses crashing through the forest soon followed. His pleasant memories were crushed, replaced with his worst nightmare. 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 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, defending 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.


✠ ✠ ✠ ✠


Vespa ran her hand across the front of Guy’s mail shirt, the rings bit into her fingers as apprehension prickled though her body.


     Swallowing down the words she wished to utter, she smiled as best she could. There would be no stopping him, and she’d not send him off to battle with anything less than all her support. At times like this, he belonged to more than just her. Guy fought for everyone who had come seeking his protection.


    “Godspeed.” Her smile turned wooden, her hands cold, yet the love burning in her heart was fire enough to destroy a forest. She slipped free a thin strip of silk belting her waist. “Come back to me safe.” She tied the bright fabric to the horse’s bridle. “I’ve grown accustomed to you and do not wish to train a new husband.”


    He laughed at that, then quickly sobered. “I love you, Vespa.”


    He’d promised to tell her so more often, and now he had, yet the declaration near set her back on her heels. Regardless of his good intentions, this was not a statement he tossed about lightly. He showed his affection in other ways like bringing her trinkets from markets in other holdings, and when they did come together, their union was with a great passion. But this pronouncement, issued on the brink of battle where others could hear, this was special. Did it also mean he feared he may not return to her?


    “And I love thee, Guy.” Finding her voice, she breathed out the words, but they were lost to the flurry of activity as he turned and mounted up. Her throat tightened with fear and the tears she held back. She couldn’t repeat the phrase.


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):


$.99 Sale during Christmas in July!







What I love most about the holiday season:


A hopefulness seems to permeate the air as we renew our spirit and body, and I cherish the quiet moments by the woodstove reading or weaving while a bit of snow is falling. With hay in the barn and the animals safe and warm, I’m grateful for getting through another year on the farmlette. And of course, connecting with family and friends is so special, particularly those far away. What fun it is to get their cards and letters, learning all they’ve done over the past year. (We’re not very techy in my family and still actually write letters!)


Why is your featured book a must-read to get you 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.” 5 stars Mistress of Book Reviews


“I love medieval romance and this medieval holiday romance spoke to my heart. Brilliant from start to finish, Promise Me Christmas took my breath away. I can honestly confess it’s a gem and a must read.” N.N. Light 5+ stars 


Giveaway –


One lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card.



Open internationally.


Runs July 1 – 31, 2024


Drawing will be held on August 1, 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. Having grown up with only a hamster and small dog, you can imagine the learning curve. 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. Her newest passion is learning the art of processing sheep wool, goat hair, and alpaca fiber to use on her spinning wheel and loom. Her writing keeps her hungry to learn new things, and she considers family and friends her most treasured of gifts.


Social Media Links:



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Barnes and Noble




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