Saturday, January 18, 2020

#Sci/FiFantasySaturday #PerceptionsOfLoveBoxedSet


Title: Perceptions of Love Boxed Set
Authors: 
Angela Castle
J. L. Addicoat
C. L. Kraemer
Maggie Mundy
Christine Young

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 5
Buy at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Google Play

Read First Chapter

TAGLINE

Five complete novels that challenge conventional Perceptions of Love.

BLURBS: Perceptions of Love Boxed Set

Tiger Mine
Angela Castle

Licking her wounds after ending a six-year marriage to a serial cheating husband, Julia has run away to her grandfather's house high in the Australian Mountains, hoping to fix the old neglected building up while she contemplates her future, only to discover a huge white Siberian tiger on her door step. Tiger shifter Mohan has escaped, jumped ship and is in hiding from the hunter who has ripped him from his world and murdered those he loved, when a curvy Aussie woman turns up at the old house he’s managed to shelter in these past weeks. He offers his services as a builder by day, returning to her by night as a tiger. Despite the strong attraction he has trouble fighting, what he discovers in Julia is a new kind of warmth and kindness he is in desperate need of.

Spirit of Love
J. L Addicoat

Old buildings have an eerie haunting feeling, and the 17thCentury Manor house in the Cornish countryside Julia intends to restore, is no exception. Originally her dead husband’s dream, she feels it’s up to her to complete it in his memory. When she arrives, she realizes it’ll take more than a quick clean to put the dilapidated old Manor to rights.

While exploring the house, she feels as someone, or something, is watching her. Darting shadows and movements, seen from the corner of her eyes, seem to confirm sinister happenings at the Manor in the past. The discovery of an old diary hidden in a chest of drawers and the story it tells, lead Julia in a different direction than she originally thought she would be taking.

Dragons Among Us
Christie L. Kraemer

In a world full of anomalies such as the platypus and self reproducing Komodo dragon, is the human race willing to accept that dragons may be real? Sapien Draconi-human-dragon shape shifters-all over the world face this dilemma every day. The question has become life and death as their species is plagued with unexpected and unwanted shifting in the most unlikely of places. The Ancient Ones-full-blooded dragons-can offer advice, but few seem to put forward workable solutions to the problem. The fate of the shape shifters hangs in the balance, and an answer must be found before the Homo sapiens find, dissect, and hunt Sapien Draconi to extinction.

Unmasked
Maggie Mundy

Six hundred years of peace are destroyed when Daria’s settlement is attacked. It is the start problems for the land of Majura. Daria saved people with magic and must join the magic wielding Mask wearers who rule the land. Her dreams have warned if she became one it would be the end of Majura. Are the Mask wearers keeping secrets or is she the only one who can see the power in the land is changing. A Mask wearer called Alenze believes her and offers to go on a quest with her to fix the Essence where the magic comes from, but he is keeping secrets from her that could be the death of them all. 

Sweet Sexy Sadie
Christine Young

Fromthe first time Sadie’s eyes met those of Brody McKenna in the hot Sierra Madre Mountains, theirs was a potent attraction—not gentle, slow, and easy, but hot, hard, and all-consuming. The daughter of a dysfunctional family, Sadie had dreams no man could wrench from her with hot sex and an all-consuming passion. She’d challenge this alpha male with all the strength she possessed. But her red hair, fiery temperament, and indomitable spirit obsessed Brody...and he knew he had to find a way to show her he was more than he appeared and convince her to make a life with him.


EXCERPTS: Perceptions of Love Boxed Set

Tiger Mine
Angela Castle

Desperation was becoming a prevalent emotion in Mohan's life. With each passing moment, he slipped deeper into the unwanted state.

His food supply was limited, and he grew weaker with each passing week. Soon, he would be forced into the situation of journeying back into the human populace. It was dangerous for a creature in his situation.

As long as he remained in animal form, he had a chance of surviving. Yet, with each necessary shift to his human side, he grew weaker. His body ached with a gnawing hunger. Even in the warm climate of this new land, he was cold.

Mohan had been fortunate to find shelter; an old, abandoned farmhouse. It had several rooms and would have once been a comfortable home. Someone had left it to the ravages of time and was in need of much repair.

He would restore it if he had the resources. For now, it was a roof over his head and kept out the chill of the cold mountain nights. Still, even with a full blaze in the solid stone fireplace, it only partially kept the chill from his bones.

He had nothing with which to trade, nothing to barter, and he had limited English. All he would need to do was open his mouth to speak, and they would know he was not of this land. The clothes on his back he had taken from a pile discarded next to a large bin on a seaside street, near where he had come ashore. By day he had walked over many fertile, abundant fields through strange forests. As darkness fell, he had shifted and used the strength of his animal form. He hunted rabbits to help him continue on. As he moved further away from people and higher into the mountains, the safer he began to feel.

Stumbling across the farmhouse had been an answer to an unspoken prayer. He had collapsed in the old building, staying still until his exhaustion had faded.



Spirit of Love
J. L Addicoat

A sense of foreboding settled in Julia's stomach as she quickly returned to the car. She didn't know what it was about the manor, but each time she visited, the hair stood up on the back of her neck. It felt as if something or someone was watching her.

Starting the car's engine, she drove slowly down the weedy, rutted path, the car bouncing as its wheels sank into the potholes. Julia cringed at the jolts and scraping sounds coming from underneath the vehicle. "I should never have sold the Landcruiser. What was I thinking, bringing the Jag?" She knew what she had been thinking. She was the Mistress of the Manor now, and wanted to show off.

As she bumped along through the avenue of trees, the manor revealed itself. Grey stone blocks of the fa├žade gave a haunting welcome. Julia swallowed a lump in her throat and tears pricked her eyes. It wasn't right. Richard should have been here with her. He'd wanted to restore the old mansion for a while. This was his dream house.

Instead, it had become his burial place.

She'd promised, while she knelt at his graveside, to restore the old manor in his memory. That had been two years ago. The memories of the time still haunted her. Grief and loneliness had held her back. Mentally, she felt stronger now, and able to accept having to carry on alone. "Get a grip on yourself Julia. It's an old house. It's bound to have a few creaks and groans."

Parking the Jag next to the front door, she unpacked, placing the bags in front of the massive wooden doors. The leering gargoyle face on the door knocker sent a shiver through her. Placing a hand over its face so she wouldn't have to look at it, Julia turned the door key in the lock and pushed the door open.


Dragons Among Us
Christie L. Kraemer

Aleda crawled from her sleeping bag and, individually, stretched her muscles. She’d always enjoyed camping. It was the only time she slept well. Something about the unpolluted air, the nights sounds of nature and knowing there were no other people about produced a sleeping potion no doctor could recreate. She dressed warmly against the morning chill and meandered to the stream to get water for coffee and cooking. Not having done much the day before, her ravenous hunger puzzled her.

“Must be the good mountain air.” She made coffee, scrambled eggs, and toasted bread with a slender wire camp toaster, which she held over the fire. As she sat in her chair enjoying the taste of food and quiet of the surrounding woods, hair on the back of her neck began to stand on end and her skin tingled. She shook off the feeling and poured another cup of coffee. The sensation of eyes observing her movements overpowered her senses and her amulet began humming, the sound increasing in volume with each passing minute.

“Enough!” Aleda tossed her plastic plate to the table with a clatter, stomped to her tent and retrieved a heavy coat. “I’ll nip this foolishness in the bud, right now!”

She hesitated as she started to storm from the camp. Camera.Quickly returning to her tent, she stomped away from her personal sanctuary, Nikon in hand, stomach complaining. Half a dozen paces from the camp, after wreaking a rushing flurry of birds into flight, Aleda realized, if she was to find out what was inducing her amulet to hum and her hair to stand on end, she would need to slow her pace—think before she stumbled into trouble. She proceeded into the stand of trees serving as the backdrop for her camp. Sauntering to nearest the evergreen, she placed her hand on the bark and felt a buzzing sensation tickle her palm. Aleda stumbled backward, dumbfounded by the commotion stirring within her. Logic and reason said she shouldn’t be sensing anythingby touching the tree.

“This whole trip is turning out to be totally illogical.”


Unmasked
Maggie Mundy

If most of the other Masks were like Alenze, then she was never going to fit in. He didn't have a hair out of place. His clothes were grey but of the highest quality, with a beautifully fitted long tunic and breeches and well-made knee-high leather boots.

"During the travelling, you'll be placed in a trance. This is done so you're not alarmed by the experience. I'll be in control, and you'll not be aware of what's happening around you."

He spoke to her as if she were a child. The fact he was at least a head taller than her didn't help matters as he peered down.

"I assure you growing up here has made me resilient." Daria crossed her fingers behind her back at the lie.

"Many people struggle with the experience. I myself was glad I wore brown britches the first time. I agree though. I sense you'll not be alarmed easily," Alenze replied.

For a second Daria saw a smirk on his face. He had a sense of humor, who would have thought. He even almost looked handsome when he smiled.

"Traveler Quatrome, the sun is setting," her father interrupted. "The Chamber is ready." He bowed his head to both of them.

Alenze offered his arm to escort her into the Travelling Chamber. Daria stared at his hand as her heart pounded in fear, but knew she had no choice but to eventually take it. Pell stopped outside the Chamber and smiled at her, then looked to Alenze.

"Take care of her, and warn your fellow Masks to watch out for her temper; she didn't inherit her mother's green eyes and red hair without reason," Pell warned.

"You have my word, Master Gallo," Alenze replied as he shook her father's hand.

Atia and Chelle hugged her with tears streaming down all their faces.

"It won't be long, and I'll be back, especially if they don't want me, which is highly likely," Daria soothed them as she tried to get her tears under control.

Alenze coughed and Daria couldn't delay any more. Again, his arm was offered and this time she accepted. He escorted her into the chamber and as the doors shut behind them, she could hear Rumus howling and her breath caught in her throat.

Alenze let go of her arm and walked into the center of the circular, windowless room. With the doors closed, there was an oppressive feel to the space, with the only illumination coming from the oil lamps placed about the walls. The floor was covered with a beautiful painting. The tales were that the settlement had been built around this place.

Alenze was studying the markings on the floor. Daria's breath was catching in her throat and the room was getting smaller. She couldn't go through with this, they couldn't make her go. Her chest was getting tight as her panic increased. She ran to the door of the chamber and raised her fists, thumping hard again and again. The yells coming from her throat blanked out the pain as her fists started to redden and bleed.

"Let me out."

A hand touched her shoulder, causing her to spin around screaming, her clenched fist aimed at Alenze. Placing his hand over hers, he brought her fist down. He stared intently at her with his dark grey eyes as he spoke.

"When I went to the Domain in Denarius, I believed no one would want someone like me. Those who came with me at that time were filled with a confidence I never had. I didn't feel I'd ever belong, but now I do. Becoming a Mask has given my life meaning beyond what I would ever have thought possible. I've grown to love what I've become. You must trust me, and believe you'll feel that, too." He paused. "Are you ready?"

Daria nodded as he let go of her hands and walked over and stood over the open mouth of the winged serpent painted on the floor. She stood on the outside of the circular floor painting and thought her eyes must be playing tricks on her. The painting was starting to move as the serpent's coils began to entwine one upon another hypnotically.

"We can delay no longer. Stand on the mark of the moon." Holding out his arm, Alenze beckoned her to move forward.

She took the step, her breath coming in gasps. The outer circle had symbols of the sun, moon, stars and the Goddess Ikrar. The Goddess stood with her hands clasped around a crystal.

Alenze removed a small, plain brown mask from a pouch hanging around his neck and put it on his face. It had no hooks or fastenings, but melded to him on contact.

"Enter the circle, Daria."

Daria stepped forward onto the moving picture. Alenze took her hands in a firm grip, and needing something to hold onto, she gripped equally as hard around his wrists. She wondered if he could hear her heart beating. He should, as it felt as if it was going to explode through her chest.

"I don't want to do this. My life is here, Crane is here, I love him and I want to stay." Tears flowed down her face.

"Trust me, Daria, and you'll be safe," Alenze instructed.

"I don't want to trust you. I don't want to go and no one there will want me. They think I'm bringing doom with me because I touched the crystal," Daria sobbed, but Alenze wasn't listening anymore. His eyes were shut and he was chanting strange words over and over. There was a humming noise making her dizzy, and then something touched her foot. She jerked her knee up. Peering down, she let out a scream as the coils of the snake picture on the floor started slithering over her feet and around her ankles - where was the trance Alenze had promised? The Mask was no longer solid on his face; the flat surface was bubbling as though something was trying to erupt. Then the small heads of two snakes broke free from the surface and bit into his temples. If he felt any pain he didn't react.

More snakes oozed from the Mask until the whole of his head was a wriggling mass moving down his back and entwining around his arms. Two vipers separated from the others encircling his arms. The snakes stopped their movements at his wrists and raised their bodies up as though to get a good look at her. They swayed hypnotically. Daria tried to pull free of Alenze's grip, but he was too strong. Then without warning, both snakes struck at her wrists in unison.

"Alenze," his name burst from her mouth as the pain hit her arms and the poison burned into her. His eyes opened, looking first to her face and then at the vipers injecting their venom. She could hear his thoughts.

Forgive me, Daria.


Sweet Sexy Sadie
Christine Young

Sadie didn't know what to make of Brody. Exceptionally handsome and charismatic, he'd made her smile the first time she saw him sauntering down the road toward her. Good lord, but he looked as if he owned the world. Tall, tanned from the sun, amber-green eyes that sparkled as if he saw some light humor in everything. He was wiry and sleek; a quickness about him surprised her. His blue-black hair was tied back with a leather thong, his chin angular.

Perhaps he did own this part of the Sierra Madres. His family seemed to own most of this town.

Her research had brought her to this place, Cactus Junction. Now the prospect of getting to know an interesting man would be an added perk. In the bathroom she slipped out of her clothes and into a tepid shower. A few minutes later she emerged squeaky clean and ready for the next part of her adventure.

Unpacking her clothes and taking out her laptop, she opened it. What do explosive experts do?  Hmmm....

Why, they blow up things. What would he blow up around here? 

Lord but that sounded crazy to her. Before typing in the necessary info to pull something up on Google, she leaned back, relaxing into her chair. The wallpaper was outdated, and the old fan complimented the air conditioning. She realized she liked the atmosphere.

Friday, January 17, 2020

#Friday'sFeaturedTitle #StraightToHeaven


Title: Straight to Heaven
Author: Christine Young
Email: achristay@aol.com

Book Heat Level: 4


REVIEW: Straight To Heaven



Are you ready for adventure, love, time travel and more? This novel has it all and will NOT let you down. Christine Young's "Straight to Heaven" is about Alexandra McMurdie, a girl from our modern 21st Century, who stumbles into a time-traveling vortex as she's running for her life. It is there, in the 1800s, where Alexandra doesn't expect to find someone like James Lawrence. 

All I can really and truthfully say about this novel was that I loved it. Every minute of it; every raced heartbeat as Alexandra and James connected, discovered, fought for themselves - for love. I'm a huge fan of time-traveling with a pinch of love and adventure, and Ms. Young delivers. I enjoyed the dialogue between Alex and James throughout the novel SO much. James Lawrence was probably by far, one of my favorite characters in the entire novel of "Straight to Heaven." Ms. Young offers a developed world, well-rounded and developed characters - with an exciting and fantastically romantic plot.  

This story grabbed my attention from the moment I started to read the novel, and held my attention to the very last page (and even so, left me wanting only to read more about James and Alex.) I was so sad to have the novel end, leaving behind such fantastically creative characters. 

"Straight to Heaven"offers a new look to the Western States after the Civil War with the twist of time. 

If this novel doesn't send you "Straight to Heaven"- I'm not sure what will. 

HIGHLYrecommend this wonderfully romantic novel to anyone who enjoys danger, adventure, and of course - a bit of Time Travel ;) 

Well done, Ms. Young! 

REVIEW

https://lizgavin.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/straight-to-heaven-blog-tour-review/



TAGLINE



Running from demons, Alexandra McMurdie stumbles into Forbidden Ground where up is down and elements of nature are contested.Though a strong independent woman in the twenty-first century' she is unprepared for life in the 1800s. Her first sight of the formidable James Lawrence makes her heart skip a beat, giving her cause to reconsider her desperate need to find a way home.

Born with a silver spoon, James’ life was torn apart during the War Between the States. Moving west he vows to put the life he once knew in the past. When he discovers a half-frozen woman near Gold Hill, his heart begins to thaw. His love for Alexandra and his need to keep her from a man who has pursued her through time might cost him his life as well as hers.



Midnight...the witching hour, a time to ease one's conscience and look to the next world for answers. Wild tales of a vortex told by the Native Americans where up was down and large was small, intrigued the valley settlers. One had only to expect the unexpected and it would occur. A ball could roll up hill but not down. No one ventured through the vortex unchanged, simply because the site defied the human mind. Here there were no limits set and no boundaries defined.
Mysterious tales ran rampant among the Native Americans. Fantastical stories portrayed visitors from other ages, other worlds, and even other dimensions passing through time and stopping here for a moment of rest before continuing their journey. Difficult to comprehend, impossible to believe unless one met his fate head on at the appropriate hour. Midnight. When spirits roamed the earth, anything could occur and anyone could vanish.
Midnight...an hour to be wary of, to remain at home and hopeit passed by without illusions floating on the stairway, of distinctive flickering in the candlelight, or a hesitant knock on the door from some invisible apparition. No one would wander out at this hour or challenge another, unless faced with no other choice.
Captain James Lawrence had sworn to uphold the law. Tonight, he might have to venture into the unknown; meet any challenge. He might stumble upon an innocent unsuspecting traveler, perhaps encounter a miracle and find a path straight to heaven.
The deserted countryside lay as a freshly painted picture bathed in the moonlight, and the crystal ice that coated the laurel trees shimmered, sending prisms of light toward the heavens. Even February's freezing rains paused as if paying homage to the hour.
Midnight.
James watched the moisture hover in a mindless drizzle of mist; low lying clouds floated and swirled in gossamer veils near the earth, entwining themselves in the manzanita and laurel, around the blackberry bushes, and the fields of grasses and weeds that dotted the hillside.
"Not tonight. Not again..." He pounded his fist against the railing, hoping he heard wrong.
From the west, James Lawrence could hear the low baying of hounds and the steady beat of horses as he stood on the porch of his home surveying his land. Charles Majors would bring his hounds, six of them, merciless in their intent, and trained to hunt man. They did not give up and he'd never known them to fail.
"Son of a bitch!" he said fiercely, "not tonight!" His fist landed squarely on the wooden beam holding up the roof. He stared into the night, cursing the situation. Duty and honor in the forefront of his mind, he knew he would join the posse.
Soon the men would stand at his porch expecting him to mount and ride with them. They were law-abiding men from town. A couple of them owned stores, some panned for gold. One was the saloon owner and another owned the town newspaper. He owed the community, knew he couldn't avoid this responsibility. If they would only come without the dogs, the nightmares might stop.
He rubbed his temples and wished the hammering within would vanish, but the pounding hooves grew louder, the hammering worse. His muscles flexed and as a brittle tension radiated through him, he held his breath, purposely waiting.
Staring into the cold night, he reflected on another time. A time during the war when the dogs had hunted him and they had come so perilously close to his heels. Now, on this moonlit night, even his home offered him no protection, no safe retreat. They came to him for his help—for his expertise. James shivered, yet the sensation wasn't caused by the cold.
He had hoped they wouldn't call on him again, but now it seemed as if the trail lay fresh and in his direction. He hated the look in a man's eye when cornered with nowhere to go; loathed the utter despair that accompanied it.
And the fear.
"Poor wretched soul," he said. "He'll know what hell feels like before the morning sun rises."



REVIEW:LibriAmoriMiei

My Review:

It 's a wonderful romance with an incredible time travel, a romantic love story, two charming characters, lots of suspense and a little adventure.
To escape an assault Alexandra falls into a strange vortex and finds herself living in 1868. She is a strong and independent woman of the XXI century and it is not easy for her to adapt to the mentality and to the limited means of 1800. While trying to survive, she meets James and she falls in love. But their love story is full of difficulties, James  has many open wounds suffered during the civil war.
I really liked the style of this author, she knows how to capture the reader's attention, once you start it, it's really hard to put it down. Her stories are full of magic and she is able  to create atmospheres full of suspense.
This was a truly engaging and delightful read. The story had a good pace, the plot was clever and the dialogue was witty.
  I highly recommend this book!




REVIEW:

Straight To Heaven by Christine Young
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Historical, Time Travel
Length: Full (389 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

A solid entry into the time travel genre.
James, an honorable man who was left damaged by the Civil war makes a wonderful hero. His honor is indisputable, as shown the by the way he devotedly takes care of his young, orphaned niece, Jessie.
Alexandra is a sweet woman who is pursued through time by a villain who wants her for his own. She unexpectedly falls into a vortex when running from him in 2015 and finds herself in the past, just following the end of the war between the states.
The villain, Sean Cassidy, is truly reprehensible. And single minded. All he wants is Alexandra, and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get her.
I enjoyed watching Alex trying to find her way around the past. It’s remarkable how many little slang sayings make no sense out of context, like when she wants to keep James from the treehouse where she and Jessie are talking, and gives as her reason that “it’s Grand Central Station” up there. Of course, the way women behave now and how they were expected to behave in the late 1800s was also an issue. Ms. Young does a good job painting the past through Alex’s eyes.
The romance between James and Alex is bittersweet, since Alex intends on returning to her own time. But neither can help falling for the other and it’s sweet and heartbreaking and helps both James and Jessie to heal from their emotional wounds.
The only “complaint” I had with the story is that James is so good and Sean Cassidy is sobad. I wish James had been more flawed and that the villain had a few redeemable qualities. Oh, and the other thing that made me a bit crazy is how the author seldom referred to him as simply “Sean” and mostly called him by his full name, Sean Cassidy. Not only did it feel a bit odd, but every time it happened I ended up picturing him as the teen idol from my youth.
Overall, though, Straight To Heavenwas a well-written, interesting book that should appeal the time travel romance fans. And it should certainly touch your heart. It did mine.

Book Review: 'Straight To Heaven' by Christine Young

A solid entry into the time travel genre.
James, an honorable man who was left damaged by the Civil war makes a wonderful hero. His honor is indisputable, as shown the by the way he devotedly takes care of his young, orphaned niece, Jessie.
Alexandra is a sweet woman who is pursued through time by a villain who wants her for his own. She unexpectedly falls into a vortex when running from him in 2015 and finds herself in the past, just following the end of the war between the states.
The villain, Sean Cassidy, is truly reprehensible. And single minded. All he wants is Alexandra, and he doesn’t care what he has to do to get her.
I enjoyed watching Alex trying to find her way around the past. It’s remarkable how many little slang sayings make no sense out of context, like when she wants to keep James from the treehouse where she and Jessie are talking, and gives as her reason that “it’s Grand Central Station” up there. Of course, the way women behave now and how they were expected to behave in the late 1800s was also an issue. Ms. Young does a good job painting the past through Alex’s eyes.
The romance between James and Alex is bittersweet, since Alex intends on returning to her own time. But neither can help falling for the other and it’s sweet and heartbreaking and helps both James and Jessie to heal from their emotional wounds.
The only “complaint” I had with the story is that James is so good and Sean Cassidy is so bad. I wish James had been more flawed and that the villain had a few redeemable qualities. Oh, and the other thing that made me a bit crazy is how the author seldom referred to him as simply “Sean” and mostly called him by his full name, Sean Cassidy. Not only did it feel a bit odd, but every time it happened I ended up picturing him as the teen idol from my youth.
Overall, though, Straight To Heaven was a well-written, interesting book that should appeal the time travel romance fans. And it should certainly touch your heart. It did mine.


4 **** – Sweetly romantic time-travel
** I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review **
I’m a huge fan of time-travel and an avid reader of historical romances so my expectations were quite high before I read this book. I think that might have been a negative factor in my enjoyment of the book. It took a while for me to connect with the story and the characters. However, once I did I had a good time with the book.
The author does a very good job with both the main and the supporting characters. The plot is well-written and the suspense builds up to the climax in the end. My reason for not rating it with five stars is that I like my heroes a bit on the flawed side and James Lawrence is too sweet for that. Also, the love scenes were good but felt a bit rushed. As an author of erotic romances I was a bit disappointed in them.
All things considered, though, this is a very good book that I recommend for those who enjoy time-traveling and sweet romance.
AMAZON (I’ve posted the review on Amazon but it hasn’t gone live yet. I’ll include link here as soon as it becomes available).


Thursday, January 16, 2020

#HighlandSeriesBoxedSet #HighlandRomance


Title: Highland Series Boxed Set
Author: Christine Young

Genre: Historical Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4


BLURBS: Highland Series Boxed Set

Highland Honor

Willfully stubborn, innocently courageous, Callie Whitcomb braves a journey through the treacherous highlands to the Macpherson castle. Callie flees from an unwanted marriage as well as her ruthless half brother. Naively she believes Colin MacPherson, the head of the clan, is loyal to her father and will give her sanctuary, protecting her from the vile plans that have been made for her.
As hard and as unyielding as the winter storms that sweep through the countryside, Colin is irresistibly drawn to the impetuous beauty who has magically appeared on his doorsteps. Despite his vows of revenge against her father, she stirs his passion as well as his sense of justice...but to love her would violate all his vows of revenge.


Highland Magic

Throughout the Highlands she is known as Keely, the witch woman. She is a great healer-a woman whose dreams come true. Ian MacPherson is a man who puts honor, loyalty and duty above everything. Their lives are entwined when Ian is sent by the Scottish King to bring Keely to trial for witchcraft. He is attacked and left for dead, but Keely rescues him. When he wakes, he discovers he has no memory. As he remembers his lost past, Ian finds that his need to protect the woman who has saved his life eclipses his duty to his king and country., He is a man torn between honor and duty to his country and the woman he loves.


Highland Song

With her white-gold hair and azure eyes, Lainie MacPherson is as wild and untamed as the rugged Scottish Highlands where she was raised. Lainie vowed to avenge a crime against her. Recklessly, she defies English laws and the man who raped her puts a bounty on her head. The man who is sent to bring her to Edinburgh sets a dangerous trap. With nothing left to live for the beautiful Scottish spy steals the sealed documents the English soldier has tempted her with.
When the exquisite temptress takes the bait and runs off with not only the forged documents but the purses of the men in the tavern, Aaron Slade vows to hunt her down and bring her to justice, never dreaming she will tame his jaded soul. When Aaron discovers the truth about the tempestuous woman who stirs his passion to the point of madness, he dares not love her, but desires her with all his soul.

EXCERPTS: Highland Series Boxed Set

Scotland November 1512
A heavy frost sat on the frozen earth, and a full moon shone clearly between the heavy clouds dotting the sky. Lady Callie Whitcomb looked over her shoulder as she raced through the deepening gloom toward the lighted tavern ahead. Every shadow, every mournful sigh of the wind sweeping through the trees, every chilling animal sound filled her with terror. Fear for her life drove her to put all thoughts of danger aside. He would follow her, find her, and drag her home.
Home.
"Don't think of that now," she reminded herself fiercely, even while tears stung in the back of her throat and fear made her limbs tremble. "Don't ye dare think of home. It no longer exists." Nothing and no one could coax her back or make her believe there was naught but terror in the home where she'd been born.
"I will never marry Lord Huntington. Never!" she whispered fiercely, the chill night air solemnly echoing her words.
Her stepbrother, Archibald Covington III, made sure she could never return.
"There ye be, lass! I've been waiting for you."
The voice rose from nowhere and surprised her. Her heart froze, lurched, then began an erratic beat, while raw nerves snapped, sending a myriad of sensations racing down her spine.
"Archibald--" she whispered, panic sweeping through her. "He's found me." All she could hear was the pounding of blood in her ears.
Before she could reach her destination, before she could find safe refuge from him, his men had found her. No! Not now. Not when she thought she had eluded them all.
A wave of fear sweeping through her reminded her, that if caught, she would be taken back to Archibald and forced to marry Lord Huntington.
"I'll help you down, lass."
"No."
Before she could react and spur her horse forward, callous, rough hands centered on her waist then pulled her from her mount.
"No!" She cried out to no avail. Regaining her wits, she beat fiercely upon the man's broad chest, tearing at his face and his thick beard with her fingers.
"Ach, lass! Hold still! I mean ye no harm. Stop this--" His voice was gruff and impatient.
Fear for her life had spurred her haste. Terror she might see Huntington or Archibald with each turn of the road haunted every hour of her journey. Archibald had retainers everywhere. Messages would have been sent. A highlander could be bought.
"Ruffian! Unhand me! Ye barbarous Scotsman."
If Archibald had guessed what path she followed...
"Verra well, ne'er let it be said that I dinna do a lass' bidding." Just as suddenly as he'd grabbed her, his hold upon her vanished. She stumbled backward.
Instantly, she found herself sitting on the frozen earth. The man towering above her watched her with concerned dark eyes. Despite the scar stretching from forehead to chin, his mouth quirked upward in a humorous slant.
"Ye be a handful, lass."
"Get away from me!" Confusion blindsided her. If this man had anything to do with Archibald or Lord Huntington, he would have never let her go. Yet she could take no chances.
His arms outstretched, his hands beckoning her to him, he smiled. "Now calm down."
Crab-like, she scurried backwards. "I will not go with ye. I would rather die." Despite her proper upbringing, she wanted to scream her frustration and bellow with anger.
"Hawke is waiting for you, lass. There is no need for this panic. He means you no harm." The man stepped forward, bending over her as if to lift her from the ground.
"Hawke?" Callie did not want to meet Hawke. She sought Colin MacPherson. She stood before the man could touch her again, quickly dusting the dirt and leaves from her hands and moving sideways, ready to bolt. But the giant moved quickly and lethally, his huge hand closing over her upper arm. He pulled her along with him, heading toward the tavern.
"Aye, Hawke. You sound as if you've ne'er heard of the mon. Well, I suppose 'tis good you dinna let on about your identity to just anyone. He waits for you and the papers you were to bring with you."
To no avail, she dug in her heels. "I have no papers." Only the letter her father had written before he died and that was meant for Colin MacPherson, not some man named Hawke.
"'Tis all right, lass. You dinna need to tell me anything."
"No! It is not all right. I won't go with ye. I won't go back."
"We've got her, Hawke."
"Aye, I see that you have." Laughter rang out from the shadows of the tavern. "Bring the wee lass inside where we can talk."
"Nay, ye have no right." Callie stiffened, searching the porch, every nerve strung taut. "I am not chattel ye can push here and there."
Music, sounds of laughter, the scent of ale and peat smoke floated and clung to the heavy night air. A man moved forward, silhouetted by the backlight of the tavern.
"I have every right," he said, but he made no move to change her situation or to tell his henchman to unhand her.
Struck by his size and with every nerve tightened, she inhaled a deep, ragged breath. When he stepped into a pool of light, she nearly gasped aloud. Moonlight gave his strong, well-chiseled features definition and there was a strange, vulnerable expression on his face.
Oh, but he was tall and his hair was as black as the night and the shadows surrounding him. His long, dark hair was pulled back and secured at his nape with a leather strap, his muscles rippling with every movement. At his side, he'd strapped a claymore, and a dirk was tucked into the top of his knee-high stocking.
Behind her, Pansy moved uneasily then trotted off into the darkness. "Pansy--"
"Dinna fret, lass. Hawke will send a mon after your pony."
"Hawke," Callie said his name aloud, returning her consideration to the man on the porch. She sensed his attention bone-deep, and her heart thundered, every instinct within calling out for her to flee. They thought she was someone she wasn't. Sensations she'd never felt before swept through her.
She'd always known Archibald was wicked, but if she hadn't seen his evil with her own eyes, she would have never believed him capable of such horrific deeds.
She didn't want to remember. In the dusk of the evening, she had been where she wasn't supposed to be, retrieving a doll for Archibald's little sister. She'd followed the doll as it rolled endlessly down the steep embankment. Then she'd seen her stepbrother and the man she was supposed to marry, Lord Huntington, killing a man, the dagger piercing the victim's heart.
The next day she had risen before dawn and packed one bag. With all her money sewn into the hem of the dress she'd bought from one of her servants, she'd donned her warmest cloak, saddled her mare, Pansy, and left the keep. No one had stopped her or sounded an alarm. Callie had told no one about the murder because she trusted no one. She'd been too terrified of the very walls in the castle to tell anyone.

EXCERPT: HIGHLAND MAGIC

Scotland, Summer 1513:

For a moment the man's gaze met hers, bored into her heart, questioned. Blood curdling war cries rode the wings of death through the timeless night. Claymores clashed. Dark eyes the color of midnight flashed a challenge. The holy man's opponents hesitated then lunged once more.

Moonbeams reflected light from the gold chain he wore around his neck. Brown robes fell from massive shoulders. Three more enemies appeared from the trees. The priest fell to the ground, wounded by the broadside of his enemy's weapon. Motionless, he lay on her flower-strewn meadow, blood staining the grass and wildflowers, marring the colorful, summer landscape.

Keely Gray woke, heart pounding a rapid staccato. She pressed against her throbbing temples with sweat-slick palms, hoping to ease the horrific pain that always accompanied the dreams. Death--the scent of blood, fear and treachery still hung heavy in the darkened hut. The prickling sensation radiating from her spine to encompass her body was too familiar.

She listened and heard nothing.

A dark void impaled her. The usual night sounds stilled. She heard no hoot of owl, no chirp of crickets, no croak of frogs, nor could she hear the mournful sighing of the wind through the branches of the old oak trees.

Silence emptied her heart as well as her soul, leaving only an ever-present loneliness.

Keely wanted nothing more than to cuddle into her bed and pull the covers over her head. Despite the unspeakable agony deep in the pit of her stomach, she rose from her pallet. Her limbs trembling, she slipped a shapeless tunic over her head and soft-soled shoes onto her feet. As she swept past the front door, she grabbed her woolen cloak.

Light from a full moon illuminated the path. She could see, but she could also be seen, the moonlight both a curse and a blessing. Approaching the meadow she'd watched in her dreams, she slowed her pace and waited. Her fingers wound tightly around the amber pendant she always wore, her only keepsake from her mother.

The sounds and scents hovering on the wind would tell her if danger still lurked. Caution guided her. A vigilance she'd learned long ago held her motionless.

 A familiar dragging sound reassured her she wasn't alone. "Whipple?" she whispered.

A self-appointed guardian angel appeared as if from nowhere then nodded, though there was a wary cast to his faded blue eyes. "Aye, lass, I'm here. I heard ye leave your hut. I would not leave ye alone to face whatever dangerous mission awaited."

Keely waited for Whipple to close the distance between them before she spoke. "I would argue with you about your appearance here at this great hour, but I ken it would do no good. You should not be here. Your heart--"

Whipple spat. "My heart is fine."

She determinedly stepped forward, approaching the meadow of her dream, knowing she wouldn't like what she found.

"Have it your way, then." Given a choice, Keely wouldn't have come to this meadow. But she had to know the truth--had she seen the future or something happening at that very moment?

Whipple didn't reply. On his clubfoot, he followed her, his trailing leg sliding behind him with a soft swish. The hard thud of his crooked oak cane followed at a slightly skewed interval.

Together they crested the hill. Below her, she saw her dream. A priest lay on the ground, his head twisted at an odd angle. For a moment her heart stopped. She bit down on her lower lip while she studied him.

EXCERPT: HIGHLAND SONG

Ayr, Scotland
1514

Lainie MacPherson let the crumpled wanted poster drop to the ground. Her stomach knotted and fear snaked down her spine. Beneath the shadows of the hooded cape she wore, Lainie searched the room for her enemies.

Every man here fit that description.

Forced into a trap of her own making, out of courage, friendless, and terrified Lainie did the only thing she could think of to bring the pig Bertram to his knees.

She would steal the temptingly displayed secret papers that were on the table in front of her. Papers she hoped showed troop movements--papers stamped with the King's seal--papers she could hand over to her brother, Hawke.

First Lainie made sure the shadows in the tavern hid her from view, shrinking into the dark interior, hiding her face with the hood of her cape. She tried not to stare at the dark-haired stranger who had absent-mindedly set his jacket and satchel on a table with the documents she sought poking out almost as if they challenged her with a secret invitation. The man’s dangerous, dark looks sent a strange sensation of heat coursing down her spine.

English soldiers like Jericho Manning and Rory Slater were more dangerous and more terrifying than any highland lass should have to deal with. To make the situation worse, she didn’t need a dark-haired stranger to make her fingers shake and her insides quake.

Lainie inhaled a deep steadying breath. Easy, she told herself. Go nice and slow. The stranger looks half-drunk and the tavern maid sitting on his lap has all his attention.

"What’s in it for me?" Rory asked Jericho, his haggard features lighting up with anticipation and snagging Lainie’s attention.

"Only what Bertram wants to give you himself." The dark stranger looked at the 
English officer. The fingers on one hand tapping the oaken table top impatiently.

Rory’s toothless grin sent a shiver of fear down Lainie’s spine.

"Jericho always gives me his left-overs," Rory said. “You going to give me this one?”

Rory’s diabolical laughter sealed the darkness in her heart.

Jericho nodded then leaned forward. "I want the lass. And I’ll have her before I give her over to Bertram. She’s only a whore."

Lainie nearly gasped but stopped herself. Courage, Lainie, you’ve been in tighter spots than this. It was not her plan to give herself away to these men. 

She inhaled a long, deep breath once more and reached for the satchel beneath the soldier's jacket. A few more seconds and all would be hers. A few more seconds and she would hand the papers over to a friend. Someone who would carry them to the Scottish King.

She committed no treason here. 

She was Scottish to the core. 

This was for the good of her country--not England. Besides she’d already been labeled a traitor by the crown of England. She had nothing to lose.

If Bertram suffered a set back, his lack of attention caused the problem.

Aaron Slade let his hands slide up and down the arms of the lass sitting on his lap while his steely gaze seemed to be riveted on Lainie MacPherson. 

He knew what the young woman was up to before she’d committed herself to stealing. He had read the determination in the girl's posture when she backed into the shadow-filled corner of the tavern, pulling her dark cloak around her slender frame and letting her hood shadow her face. The combination of steady eyes and slightly trembling fingers had given her away. 

He would make sure neither Jericho nor Bertram could get their sweaty hands on the girl. He’d heard stories. He believed them--every word.

Jericho didn’t even realize the girl he sought stood in the corner. Moreover, Slade didn't mean to tell Jericho. Slade had his orders. He was to find her and bring her to Edinburgh where she would be tried for high treason. The charges were lame. Now that he watched her stealing the phony papers he’d planted in the pocket of his jacket, he wasn’t quite so sure.
   
The rumors had it that a lot of men had wanted the lass, but none had gotten her. He’d thought all along Bertram had been one of those men. A cynical smile shifted the line of Aaron’s black mustache. There was nothing new in that particular game. Teasing and promising men something they wouldn’t give was a primal game played by every woman ever born.

But there was something very different about this woman.

An air of sadness and vulnerability emanated from her. Aaron methodically lowered his lids when he glanced from the girl who sat in his lap to the woman whose fingers were closing over the sealed documents. He couldn't help but stare at her. The woman's eyes were a clear, uncanny blue that matched the color of the sky on a bright summer day. The few strands of hair escaping her hood were so blond they were nearly white. The cloak she wore was plain, but did nothing to hide the lush fullness of her figure beneath the cloth. The vision he imagined set him to thinking about what it would be like to unfasten the cloak, strip away all the other fabric covering her and touch the luminous skin that lay beneath the tattered cloak.

Aaron was irritated at the direction his thoughts went. He was certainly experienced and old enough to keep sexual need away from his mission. He had been taught and teased by the most expert females on this earth. He’d learned more than one lesson at their hands.

Looking at Aaron, Jericho swirled the contents of his tankard.

"I don’t figure I can trust any man. Who’s to say that if you find the girl, you won’t want to keep her for yourself," he said to Aaron. "She might be worth a damn sight more than what old Bertie is paying you to bring her to him."

The devil you say," Rory retorted with a smug grin. "I have it on good authority and knowing old Bertie for years, he likes nothing better than to share soiled goods. We both know he’s the only one who can save the girl from a conviction of treason."

Jericho looked coldly at Aaron but didn’t refute Rory’s statement.

Aaron urged the tavern wench from his lap and kept his eye lids lowered slightly. He watched the girl, and if he was right, she was about to dip her hand into the pocket of another man. She had moved from her spot near his table, using the shadows in the tavern to hide herself. She brought up a fat purse and slipped it inside a different sack than the one she’d put the papers she’d stolen from his satchel.

The stories about her were intriguing enough, but it was the rumors of Lainie MacPherson’s spying that held his interest. To him any one who could spy on his country was a traitor. But Lainie MacPherson, if she was anything like her brothers, was Scottish bone deep. To Lainie, what she did here would not be treasonous because she would be loyal only to the Scottish King James. In addition, the rumor--the ones of Lainie prostituting herself for information--didn’t bother him. Women did what they had to do to survive. And if the rumors were true, he would find a way to enjoy her charms while he took her to Edinburgh for trial. To him women’s flesh was sweet and soft, but women were as fickle as newborn kittens. They were far too easily corrupted, and so many times they turned out to be less than they seemed. He never let any woman touch his heart. 

Silently, Aaron measured the distance between the door and the MacPherson wench and wondered at the innocence, or was it guilt, he saw flash in her eyes for one brief moment when she met his glance. From what he’d heard, the Scottish cause was everything to the MacPhersons. This would not be the first time they pitted their clan against the English crown. 

But this time it was the most foolhardy.

The smile he gave Lainie made her look away. He watched as her shoulders quivered, and she shrank back into the shadows. He felt a wave of nausea sweep through him when he thought of Lainie being at the mercy of a man like Bertie for even a single night, much less until Bertie grew bored with her and gave her to Jericho and Rory.

Silently, he told himself he would never let her fall into Bertie’s hands, because he meant to bring her straight to the authorities in charge. If she were guilty of treason, she would be prosecuted. If she were not guilty, he would see she was set free and he would personally escort her home.

For the first time, he felt justified in his mission and the exorbitant pay he would receive for handing the girl over. If anything, there was a certain justice in cheating Bertie out of his spoils. He acknowledged that once he caught Lainie, he would have not only Rory and Jericho after him, most likely the MacPherson brothers would be on his tail as well. 

A man bumped into Lainie near the door. Aaron thought he would see her pick this man’s pocket too. The movement was quick. Except for the slight of hand and Aaron’s vigilance, he would have never seen the exchange of the satchel from Lainie’s hand to the man's. The document Lainie just handed over was worthless, but the stolen goods were not. They would find out soon enough he had baited her, set the trap, and she’d fallen for it. Would he have Lainie in his possession when that was accomplished? Or would Jericho?

Aaron shifted slightly, not wanting to give Jericho and Rory any indication that he meant to leave. His hand was on the hilt of his sword. Silently, he measured the catlike elegance of the girl with the determined posture and long back. It would not be much longer when Jericho and Rory discovered their own missing goods.

He rose and walked toward the door, barring her way if she meant to flee yet he was not sure he would stop her. "You sure you wouldn’t want to stay a while and keep me company, Miss…what was the name again?" Aaron asked, though he knew very well.

"’Tis naught your business," she said softly, lowering her dark sooty lashes as if she meant to flirt. "A gentleman would not ask a lady he didn’t know."

Lainie MacPherson’s voice sounded calm and controlled. Nevertheless, he knew she’d been in this position often enough, that she knew how to handle herself and no longer hesitated, knowing full well the consequences if she did. In any case, her compliance was not a part of his plan for her abduction.

Aaron’s instincts kept whispering that this woman was somehow different from women like Sarah and Anna, unfeeling women who cared nothing about anyone save themselves and the fortune and titles that could be gained from marrying into the right families. At the same time, he had no doubt Lainie MacPherson could kill a man.

"You should take heed," Aaron said softly, ignoring the other man who had now slipped quietly out the door.

"Remove your hand. sir," she told him indignantly.

Aaron shrugged, outwardly indifferent, his fingers settling once more on the hilt of his sword, ever wary of the girl and her next move.

The tavern’s hush changed into a humming of male voices as people left their drinks and focused on the pair standing so close to the door where unbeknownst to them an unspoken challenge had just been issued by both parties. 

The stakes revolved around a woman named Lainie MacPherson and release from the commission he’d bought so many years ago he couldn’t remember. As for the bounty, Aaron Slade didn’t care a damn about it.

Aaron was certain he would end up the winner in this cat-and-mouse game. Besides the obvious, he wondered how the woman with trembling mouth and steady blue eyes had ended up on a wanted list issued by King Henry himself and standing in one of Scotland’s most infamous taverns. So intrigued by her he would move heaven and earth to learn her story.

"I know what you handed over to your companion," Aaron said with a bit of impatience, trying not to give away his purpose before it was necessary. 

"I don’t know what you mean," she said softly with a sardonic smile gracing her intriguing mouth.

"You stole something that was mine. I mean to get it back. You need to remember that England rules this land--all of it." He inhaled deeply the soft scent of her that seemed to be hers alone. It seemed to possess all his senses.

Her shoulders stiffened as her gaze raked over him. "I’m Scottish, and loyal to James," she said, her voice wavering. "Henry doesn’t rule me or my kin."

"Slade," Jericho said, stepping forward, "what’s--"

The wolfish smile Aaron gave Jericho stopped him cold in his tracks.

"Who’s the girl?" Jericho asked pointedly. "You the sharin’ kind, Slade?"

"No one of interest," Aaron said smoothly lying to Jericho.

Aaron moved in front of Lainie, blocking the men from seeing her face and her hair. He didn’t know if they’d recognize her but something Rory had said earlier made him think Rory at least had met her. Given a choice, he would have taken her by the arm and escorted her away from these two cutthroats. Now he didn’t have a choice. He would have to let her go and hope he could catch up to her.

Lainie could melt into the forest if given a chance. She knew these lands better than most. And her companions were sure to be waiting for her a safe distance from the tavern. If her friend wasn’t waiting for her, where would she go? A sudden and unmistakable sickening feeling swept through him. Fear for this slip of a woman clouded his judgment.