All that stands in the way of love is a Cold Heart.

Yamabuki waits out an unnatural blizzard in a crossroads town, knowing an assassin has been hired to kill her and take the secret message scrolls she carries. Who hired him—and why—are questions that haunt her nights.

When she chooses to welcome the advances of the handsome and ambitious Kiso Yoshinaka, a dispossessed warlord intent on overthrowing the empire, the color of her world changes. For he seems to understand her—her childhood, her experiences, her duty, and her heart. The same couldn’t be said for his sister, Tomoe, a young, audacious warrior who mocks Yamabuki as an upstart from an outlying province.

But when the local authorities find the bodies of the men she killed—and six others—she’s drawn into events far bigger than she ever imagined. And it’s Tomoe, not Yoshinaka, she finds at her side.

The adventures of Yamabuki that began with Cold Blood continue in this full-length 83,000-word novel, action-filled with pitched battles and adventure depicting the samurai life as it was in ancient Japan.

A distant tsurigane began furious tolling in alarm.

Cries erupted down the alley, near the Saké House. Visible in the swirling snow, black-clad sakimori dashed in all directions.

Tomoe’s heart thumped hard. “What’s this commotion?” She loosened her sword.

In a dry voice, Yamabuki said, “I knew Unagi’s saké was wretched. Perhaps the soldiers are finally finding out.” She started to laugh, then stopped.

Spear-carrying soldiers hurried in their direction. The men pointed at the two women and ran ever faster.

“I don’t like the look of this?” Yamabuki loosened her own tachi.

“Spearmen.” Tomoe stiffened. Even mediocre warriors could be dangers wielding hoko yari. “Dead-end. No getting away unless we smash through one of these hovels.”

Yamabuki said, “If we run, we look weak—and guilty. Besides, it won’t buy us anything if we head into the side streets. They don’t lead anywhere.”

Both women dropped their hands to their sides. Neither made any aggressive move. Their swords remained where they were, but they were at the ready.

The soldiers numbered a full jun, ten sakimori, counting their leader—one of those hotheads with more wildness in his eyes than brains in his head. They ran up as a bunch and spread out into a semicircular formation and lowered their spears, cornering the two women against the cliff. None of the soldiers, apart from the leader, wore any significant armor—only leather chest protectors and shin guards.

For a long moment no one said anything. It was Yamabuki who broke the silence. “What’s this about?”

“You are under arrest,” the leader growled.

—from Cold Heart, by Katherine M. Lawrence. ©2018 All rights reserved.

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9912667-7-7
  • Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9912667-9-1