Irish Claddagh rings are simple in design but are endowed with a wealth of meaning. They look romantic and have been adopted by more than just the Irish as wedding and engagement rings.
The heart in the ring is a symbol of love, the hands symbolizes friendship and the crown signifies loyalty. The combination of the elements means the ring can be used to indicate friendship, eternity, engagement or marriage, depending on how the ring is worn.
- When the ring is worn on the right hand, with the heart pointing to the fingertip, it means the wearer is not romantically involved with anyone.
- If the ring is turned around, the wearer is involved.
- Worn on the left hand, with the heart pointed toward the finger, means the wearer is engaged.
- Worn on the left hand, with the heart pointing upwards, means the wearer is married, or in a committed relationship.
There are variations in the meaning of the wearing of the ring. It can change from location to location and country to country, as Claddagh rings are worn all over the world now. How the ring is worn and what it means has become a personal interpretation, although generally everyone agrees that the heart pointing toward the wearer, on the left hand, means that the wearer is in a committed relationship.
Surprisingly, Claddagh rings of this distinct design haven't been around all that long. The earliest references that historians can find for them is around the 1700's in Galway, but the name "Claddagh" has only been in use since the 1840's.
No one knows who designed the Claddagh ring. Its origins are a mystery. Wikipedia reports that:
"There are many legends about the origins of the ring, particularly those connected with the Joyce Family of Galway. Richard Joyce was a silversmith working around 1700. His initials are on one of the earliest surviving Claddagh rings with a maker's mark, but there are three others also made around the time, with the mark of goldsmith Thomas Meade. Suggestions that Joyce originated the design are "extremely unlikely" according to Delamer."
Whoever did design the ring, they were probably borrowing from an idea that the Romans had been using for centuries. "Fede Rings" were rings used in medieval and Renaissance Europe as love and marriage rings. The name "fede" comes from the Italian phrase mani in fede ("hand joined in faith" or "hands joined in loyalty"). The rings dated from Roman times, when the gesture of clasped hands was a symbol of pledging vows. Fede rings were cast in the form of two clasped hands, symbolizing faith, trust or "plighted troth."
In Blood Knot, I took liberal poetic license, and suggested that Sebastian's unknown father was the designer of the Claddagh rings. Nial, a Roman, would instinctively understand the symbolism of the Claddagh rings, which is why one particular ring in the story ends up having incredible emotional importance throughout the novel. It's also why you find it on the cover.
After thirty-five novels with various publishers, under various pen names, and after nearly ten years with Ellora's Cave primarily writing in romantic suspense and paranormal romance, I have finally taken a deep breath and self-published Blood Knot, an erotic urban fantasy romance (MMF, Contemporary, Vampires, Paranormal), and my 36th novel overall. It was released on March 9, 2011 and is available at Amazon and Smashwords for $2.99 in all the common e-book formats, and will soon be available in print.
I've won a number of awards, including Australia's Emma Darcy Award (the equivalent of the Gold Heart) and was most recently nominated for the CAPA's Best Erotic Paranormal and Favourite Author categories. You can find out more about me and my books here.
Synopsis: Winter, a professional thief who can manipulate others’ biologies by touch, accidentally “healed” her former partner—and former vampire—Sebastian, whom she secretly loves. Her healing created a symbiotic pairing between them that neither of them wants.
Nathanial, a sexy thousand-year-old vampire and Sebastian’s ex-lover, talks Sebastian and Winter into stealing evidence that will expose all vampires to the world. But Nathanial is a puppet-master who doesn’t believe in falling in love with humans, leaving Winter unsure of his real feelings for her once he seduces her, or how he feels about Sebastian, the former vampire-now-human whose life he has turned upside down once more.
But the evidence they steal is hot property. The future of all vampires is on the line and others will stop at nothing to get it, leaving Sebastian, Winter and Nathanial with no allies but each other. They must trust each other to survive. Only...can they?
An Excerpt From: BLOOD KNOT
Copyright © TRACY COOPER-POSEY, 2011
All Rights Reserved.
[For readers who are following my blog tour, these excerpts are consecutive -- each excerpt follows the last one. Check on my blog for details of previous excerpts, and subscribe to my blog to learn about future blog tour posts and the excerpts that go with them. http://tracycooperposey.com]
Winter stood up. “I’m hungry. Do you mind if I eat?”
“Not at all. Do you mind if I follow you into your kitchen and keep talking?”
She sighed. “I suppose.”
He laughed. “You will not put me aside with so simple a human habit as eating, Winter. I’ve been watching humans eat for hundreds of years. It doesn’t bother me anymore.”
“Sebastian said it did,” Winter told him as she climbed the stairs to the main floor.
He followed her, his steps quieter than hers, but didn’t speak until they were both in her big country kitchen with its copper pots hanging overhead and gleaming black granite counters. The wood blinds that ran the width of kitchen were all thrown open to the morning sun and the mountain view.
Nathanial was frowning. “The facts that Sebastian has chosen to give you about me seem to be all negatives.”
“Yes,” Winter agreed, pulling out a Kaiser roll, ham, cheese and fixings for a hearty sandwich. She looked up when Nathanial remind silent. “You’re not going to ask why?”
His smile was sour. “I’m not a stupid man.”
Winter felt a spurt of guilt spear her. She had been willing to believe everything Sebastian had warned her about Nathanial, without waiting to see for herself if it was true. Had Sebastian manipulated her, instead of Nathanial as Sebastian had tried to warn her Nathanial might do?
She bit her lip, hesitating. Then she decided to err on the side of truth. Just this once. “He still loves you, you know. He would not be so bitter if he did not.”
Nathanial’s clear eyed gaze was direct and unwavering. “And thus I search him out when he patently has no wish to see me. I am…concerned.”
“Concerned?” Winter just stared at him.
He blew out a breath. “Worried, Winter. Does that satisfy you?”
She nodded and bit into her sandwich, suddenly ravenous.
“At least sit down while you eat,” Nathanial pleaded. “It is uncivilized, standing so.”
She grinned at him. “I was lucky to eat at all when I was a teenager, let alone at a table.” But she put the sandwich on a plate and carried it over to the table and sat down, anyway.
Nathanial surprised her by sitting opposite her at the table. He threaded his fingers together again.
“You made Sebastian human again,” he said.
She swallowed her mouthful, taking her time. Nathanial just watched her.
When she could put off speaking no longer, she said carefully, “He has spoken to you at least once since Singapore. He didn’t tell you that himself?”
“As you might expect, communications between Sebastian and I have been somewhat strained for the last few years. We deal with necessary subjects only and that is all. A matter like that he would not deal with on the phone. I believe he was going to tell me about it when we met this week. He hinted that there was something large he wanted to talk about.” He unlinked his fingers and threaded them again. It was an impatient movement. “You remade him. You took away his vampirism. Returned him to his human state.”
She put down her sandwich. “He never told me he was a vampire.” Suddenly her rage was there. Huge and towering. She pushed back her chair and shot to her feet. “Two fucking years, Nathanial! Two whole damn years and he never said a word! Not one! We were virtually joined at the hip, working jobs almost two a week at times. Through some of the tightest places, the toughest spots, the hairiest scrapes. And he didn’t say anything.” She thumped her hip with her fist. “Damn him!”
“Some say we’re already damned,” Nathanial replied coolly, sitting back in his chair. “So you’re too late to send him to Hell.”
She hissed impatiently. “Of course I made him human,” she shot back, answering his earlier question. “I didn’t know what was wrong with him! He had a bloody great stake in his heart and he was dying. So I dived in and fixed everything. How was I to know that the dark stuff, the dead part of him…that it was supposed to be like that? He didn’t tell me!”
Nathanial leaned forward. “And in the two years you and Sebastian worked together did you ever tell Sebastian you can control other people’s biologies just by touching them, Winter? That your miracle serum is a fake? That you cover up your talent with razzamatazz and misdirection, just like a good con man does?”
Winter’s anger chilled. She stared at Nathanial. Then, with a sigh, she slid back onto her chair. “Sebastian found out in Singapore. And I told you, just now.”
“So that would be ‘no’.” Nathanial spread his hands flat on the table. “If you’ve never told a soul, not even Sebastian, why did you tell me?”
“I don’t know.” She frowned. “Sebastian warned me you could be like this.”
A tiny line appeared between his brows. “Like what?”
She bit her lip. “Squeeze information out of people they desperately don’t want to let go of.”
The line between his brow deepened. “He exaggerates. I had a small natural ability to charm people that I honed over the years and apply now and again when I need to. But I haven’t attempted to draw anything from you since I stepped inside that edifice of yours and found you there.”
Winter gave a small, dry laugh. “Of course you haven’t.”
Nathanial smiled. “I could if I wanted too, of course. Especially now I have you keyed. As a rule, though, I don’t do that with people unless it’s for a job.”
“Right,” she said flatly. She believed that like she believed in the Tooth Fairy.
Nathanial didn’t move. “You don’t believe me. Sebastian will have indoctrinated you, of course. Perhaps that will work in my favor for a moment.”
She stared at him. “You’ve lost me,” she confessed. “What are you talking about?”
He studied her. “A demonstration. I will show you how I go about drawing something out of you if I was really interested in taking information from you against your will, just to prove that I am not working my wiles against you right now. Would that relax you and let down your guard?”
“Doesn’t telling me what you’re about to do work against you? If I know what you’re going to do, I can see it coming and be prepared.”
“It doesn’t matter if you know or not,” Nathanial said indifferently. “I have you registered now. I know your vulnerabilities and weaknesses.”
She shivered. “So whether I put up a fight or not, you can get past my resistance and open me up? Jesus…” She licked her lips. “Well, your arrogance is top notch, even if you aren’t.”
“I’ve never failed a contract,” Nathanial said.
Winter swallowed. Her heart was beginning to race, so she evened it out and slowed it down, flooding her system with endorphins. She calmed, relaxed. Then she smiled at Nathanial. “I’ve never lost a contract, either,” she told him.
Nathanial’s smile equaled hers. “Is that a challenge?” He rose to his feet in a light, sinuous movement.
“Yes. I mean no,” Winter said quickly. Her pulse jumped. “Sit down,” she snapped, smoothing out her pulse again.
He sat, keep his gaze on her face. He smiled. “Your gaze keeps turning inwards. Are you using your talent on yourself, Winter? Calming yourself, perhaps?”
She drew in a long, slow breath. “None of your business.”
He inclined his head. “I’ll take that as a yes, then.” The long fingers threaded together. “Your eyes…do you know how exactly they match Sebastian’s?”
Winter couldn’t keep looking at him. She found herself studying the wood grain of the tabletop.
“The same changeable green. The same astonishing light and beauty,” Nathanial continued, as if she were still looking at him. He paused. “It isn’t a coincidence, is it?”
She still couldn’t bring herself to look at him. It killed her to simply shake her head.
“When you healed the staking and made him human…your eyes changed then, didn’t they?” Nathanial said softly. “You took on part of him. His eyes, a need for his blood.”
Winter poured calming chemicals into her system, struggling for peace. Nathanial was stirring hard memories and panic in her. The stew of biological waste she was producing as a result was making her almost sick in reaction.
His hand curled under her arm, lifting her from the chair and Winter gasped. She had been so focused on her internal systems, she hadn’t noticed Nathanial move to her side. He tugged her gently to her feet. “Shhh…” he said as she opened her mouth to protest. “I just want to look at your eyes in the better light.” He led her closer to the windows with their glowing polished wood blinds and turned her so the light fell upon her face.
At five foot nine, she was tall for a woman, but Nathanial was much taller. He tilted her chin up so he could study her eyes and she tried not to look away.
He brought a hand up to her temple and his fingertips ran through a lock from roots to ends, all two feet of it. “Glorious red. And not from a salon. Sebastian did tell me you were a brunette. More of your talent, Winter?”
She nodded fractionally. “The black didn’t…well it didn’t go with my eyes anymore. And I wanted to…” She drew in a breath.
“You had changed profoundly on the inside, so you marked the change on the outside,” Nathanial said.
She licked her lips. That was it exactly. “The old me was gone,” she said.
But Nathanial was still stroking her hair, his gaze on her face. Abruptly, she was aware of just how close he was standing to her. There was barely a hand span of space between them.
She wanted to step back, but almost like he read her mind, his other hand slid over the back of her hip, holding her there.
“I never could resist eyes like yours,” Nathanial said softly.
A ripple passed through her. It seemed to switch on all her nerves, making her body hypersensitive. “What the hell—”
He touched a finger to her lips and it stopped her protest as completely as if he had clapped a hand over her mouth. She sucked in a breath and it shuddered on the way down.
“Stop analyzing yourself, Winter,” Nathanial told her. His voice seemed to reverberate in her mind. “Stop looking inside you. Just feel instead, like a normal human.”
She shook her head.
He leaned closer to her, his lips almost brushing her cheekbone. “You’ve been responding to me since you saw me. But you’ve been denying it. Ignoring the signals. All because Sebastian has convinced you I’m such an evil man.”
“You’re not a man,” Winter breathed.
His lips brushed over her skin. “I am man enough I can bring a scream to your lips, sweat to your brow and have you trembling in my arms, begging for a release in a voice you will not recognize as your own. Do you doubt that, Winter?” His hand on her hip moved in a restless little movement against her ass, stroking her through her jeans.
Her heart was pounding, hard enough to echo in her temple. Under her tee-shirt, her breasts were aching for his touch, but Winter struggled to admit that.
“Sebastian was human once and now you’ve made him a man again. He has his weaknesses, just as we all do,” Nathanial told her. His lips hovered over her pounding temple. “I’m one of those weaknesses. He has seen me only as a negative in his life for years now. That is the picture he painted for you.” His lips slipped down to her mouth, brushing over her skin in barely-there caresses, to hover over her lips in an achingly-close not-quite-kiss. All Winter had to do was lift her chin the tiniest fraction of an inch and she could take the kiss for herself. She found she was holding her breath. Waiting. Hoping.
“You want me,” Nathanial said. It wasn’t a question.
But Winter found herself answering anyway and replying with the truth. Her “Yes,” emerged breathless from her lips to his.
His lips pressed against hers with the softest of touches. It was barely a kiss, and Winter strained for more intimate contact. He lifted his lips from her, just far enough to look into her eyes once more. “You wanted Sebastian, all the time you were together. Instead you watched him bed all those men and women and let jealousy be your bed partner. You hungered for him, didn’t you, Winter? Wanted him as you have wanted no man in your life before.” His tongue stroked her upper lip. “Tell me.”
“Yes,” she breathed, her body trembling at his touch.
He kissed her, his tongue thrusting into her mouth, making her moan. Then he stepped away from her, his hands falling to his sides.
“Thank you,” he said. “Is that enough of a demonstration, Winter?”
For a blank moment Winter’s mind tottered. Then fury swept through her. “You were conning me?”
“You agreed to the demonstration,” he reminded her. “You were warned about what I was doing. That is more than the average mark is told. And yet I still got the information I wanted.” He shrugged. It was a small, elegant lift of his shoulders and seemed almost apologetic. “I did warn you,” he repeated.
She closed her eyes, humiliation and cold sense at war inside her. This was what her marks felt like if ever they found out they’d been had.
“If it is of any comfort, Winter, I always hew close to the truth. There are consequences for both sides when I play a mark.”
She opened her eyes to look at him. Nathanial glanced down at the front of his trousers, drawing her gaze to the swollen erect mass there.
Winter could feel her cheeks burning, even though she was hardly a blushing virgin type.
“One of my weaknesses is redheads,” Nathanial added. “Especially stubborn, intelligent, independent, feisty redheads.”
Thank you Tracy for visiting the blog today. Congratulations on the release of Blood Knot. In celebration of her first self-published novel, Tracy has generously offered an e-copy of her previous release, Kiss Across Swords to one commenter. Kiss Across Swords is a sexy, erotic urban fantasy time-travel romance. You can read my review of it here.
Taylor Yates never dreamed growing up she would end up happily living with two drop-dead sexy vampires and time-hopping through their thousand years of personal history. Her life is complete…or is it?
When she finds herself at the siege of Jerusalem during the first crusade, Veris doesn’t know her at all and doesn’t want to. Worst of all, he and Brody are total strangers, and Taylor drives a wedge in deep between them by trying to seduce Veris at their first meeting—not something a lady of the day does if she wants to keep her head.
Taylor and Brody must woo Veris using the customs of medieval England, win his heart and his full commitment before Jerusalem falls in four days time—or when they return to their own time, their lives as they know them will be gone…
You can read more about Kiss Across Swords here.
Everyone who comments here by by midnight, Thursday, April 7, will have a chance to win the e-copy of Kiss Across Swords. I'll post the winner on Friday, April 8.