A Highland Pearl
by Brenda B. Taylor
Just in time for Christmas shopping, A Highland Pearl is now available in ebook format. An ebook copy of the novel will be awarded to a commenter.
A sweet romance blossoms amidst feuding and war. With her reputation at stake after being accused of practicing witchcraft and hated as a member of a rival clan, Maidie considers leaving Clan Munro and returning to the home of her birth in Clan Cameron. Fierce battles, a tragic encounter, and a handsome clan chief compel her to make crucial decisions in this haunting romance set in the16th century Highlands of Scotland.
A Highland Pearl, is the first novel in the Highland Treasures series. The story takes place in 1508 A.D. Scotland when clan chiefs ruled the highlands. Loyalty pledged to a clan chief meant provision and protection for the clansman, but in return rents were paid to support the chief and his family and service in the chief’s army was required of each able-bodied man. Within the walls of the great castles, intrigue and mystery reigned. Clans vied for land, livestock, and power. Fighting and reiving or stealing were prevalent, yet a gentler side with passion, love, romance, family and faith permeated the life of the Highlanders. A Highland Pearl tells about all aspects of life in the Highlands of Scotland.
Excerpt from A Highland Pearl
The warriors now lead by the tanist moved on to find and capture the reivers. Colin dismounted, took his horse and Andrew’s by the reins and tied both to a nearby bush.
A cold, light mist began to fall. Clouds cloaked the moon, making the night black. Andrew sat down on the root of a large oak with low hanging branches. Leaves from the large tree covered the cold, damp ground. An owl’s haunting call pierced the night air.
Andrew unhooked the plaide on his shoulder and wrapped it around his aching body, while Colin gathered small branches and twigs enough for a fire. He found dry leaves then piled them together close to Andrew’s feet. Using a flint stone and his sgian dubh, Colin soon had a small fire burning. He added kindling, larger sticks, and finally a limb.
Andrew leaned against the tree trunk, relaxing in the warmth of the fire. Colin soon joined him, wrapped his plaide around his young body, and rested against the tree. Andrew’s wound burned with pain. He closed his eyes, but could not sleep. Droplets of water from the mist collected on the tree’s branches and splashed down upon his head, but he did not care. His pride throbbed as mightily as the wound in his abdomen. He, the chief of Clan Munro, could not lead his men into battle. The tanist must now do his work. His warriors and people would hold him in contempt for not being able to perform his duties. How could he face his men?
Andrew’s eyes closed against his will. He wished for one of Maidie Munro’s potions to ease the pain in his gut and her gentle touch to ease the pain in his heart. He soon dozed. In a fitful sleep, he dreamed of a bonny lass surrounded by glowing light, dressed in a flowing sheer white gown with a wreath of yellow daisies about her head. She wore a large pearl around a slender neck, and her skin shone like alabaster. Golden locks spilled around her shoulders and down her back. Large blue eyes and red lips taunted him. He reached for her when she beckoned with one willowy hand.
“If you touch this pearl, you will have life and love,” she spoke in a voice sounding of tinkling bells.
“Aye, come closer and I will touch it.” Andrew stretched his hand out further. He had almost reached the pearl when the beautiful lass backed away. “Come closer. I canna reach you. I will touch the pearl,” he called as she grew smaller and smaller. He tried to run toward her, but his legs would not move. “Come back, come back. I canna reach the pearl,” he called at the top of his lungs, but she vanished.
Colin shook his shoulder. “Are you well, M’Laird? You’re talking in your sleep.”
“Aye. I’m fine, lad. Just a wee pain in the gut.” Andrew placed a hand inside his plaide and felt the warmth of blood oozing from the wound in his belly.
Colin rose to put limbs on the fire, and then settled against the tree once more. The night mist grew heavier and colder. The owl called again, this time from further away. Andrew guessed his cry had frightened the bird. Hopefully, no wolves were about. He didn’t feel up to fighting off a pack this night, and Colin would not be able to hold off very many by himself. Andrew had no spirit or energy left for fighting.
Even in the night’s cold air, perspiration lay on Andrew’s brow. He wiped it away with the plaide and then wrapped the wool garment closer about his body. For the first time since Tara Fraser, he longed to gaze into the eyes of a lass and wrap his arms about her, feel her touch on his skin, and press her warm lips to his. Since Maidie came into his life, his thoughts turned more and more toward the soft feel of a woman. If only he were free to properly court the lass. She may not want him, however, now that his strength was spent.
The sound of a distant owl broke the night air again. Colin wrapped his plaide tighter around his body. Another owl sounded closer.
Andrew jumped to his feet with a hand on the hilt of his broadsword. “Colin, douse the fire. ‘Tis no owl we’re hearing, but an animal far more dangerous.”
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This sounds very interesting, Brenda. Some of my ancestors were in Scotland in this time period, though they came to the US via Northern Ireland.
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