It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Monday, December 24, 2012


By Mary Wine

She Has Hardly Any Choices Left...

With her clan on the wrong side of the struggle for the Scottish throne, heiress Daphne Macleod, once the toad of the court, is out of options...

And They're All Dangerous...

Norris Sutherland once helped Daphne, but she walked away from him without a backward glance. Now she's in deep trouble and needs him more than ever. But he may be lost forever...unless she can somehow convince him to forgive her.


To find out more about THE TROUBLE WITH HIGHLANDERS AND Mary Wine's other books visit her website -

***** I am always attracted to books with HIGHLANDERS on the cover! I should come as no surprise that I LOVE Scottish Romances most of all. So, when I saw this yummy cover I had to read it!!! AND it does not disappoint!!! The only bad thing is, now I have to buy Mary's other books! So many books so little time!********


Friday, December 21, 2012

Featured Today- HEAVEN SENT

By Debut Author Sarah Hoss

When forgiveness heals the soul, love heals the heart.

Flight nurse Tenlee Hawkins is used to making quick decisions, but one decision she made the Christmas day her mother died haunts her. Wrestling with the past, she spirals into depression—until the day she finds a man unconscious in her woods and saves his life.

When Sam awakens in the hospital with a concussion and no memory, Tenlee rescues him again. She takes him into her home and her life. But as Sam recovers and remembers who he is, he's torn. A guardian angel isn't supposed to fall in love.

As the promise of true love grows, Tenlee realizes that Sam has helped her much more than she ever helped him. But Sam is filled with guilt knowing he must soon leave. Will it take a Christmas miracle to find the life with Tenlee he’s always wanted?


Red and blue lights pulsed a beat all on their own, and even though the road was slick, people ran to and fro in a frantic pace to save a woman’s life.
A car sat mangled on the side of the road. The roof, having been cut, rested on the ground beside it. A few feet beyond, a woman lay motionless. She wasn’t breathing as the EMT’s worked desperately to save her life. Sam closed his eyes and said a silent prayer. But it was no use. If he was here for an assignment then the lady on the ground was not going to live. He said another prayer, hoping that there would be no pain and she would slip easily into his world.

The woman with the red hair sat on the ground near the deceased woman and cried, rocking back and forth. 

“That is her mother.” 

Malachi’s deep voice broke into his thoughts and Sam turned to acknowledge him.

“No, keep watching,” Malachi said. 

The scene on the screen changed. Months passed, for now the trees were green and glorious in their summer splendor. A manicured lawn hugged a log cabin, nestled in the woods. Flowers sprung from pots here and there along the ground and deck. The place looked cozy. Scenes continued to change as did the weather. Snow decorated the landscape once again.

Searching the scene for all of the details he could gather, Sam spotted her, just past the cabin, in the woods. She sat quietly on a swing hanging from a tree branch. The sadness etched in her features gripped Sam and tore at his emotions. He ached to go to her, to comfort her.



Sarah Hoss grew up believing she could try anything and if she set her mind to it, she would succeed. Sixteen years of dance lessons, Cheerleading, and school plays proved to her that her parent’s words rang true. Writing was no exception. Reading the Outlander series made her fall in love with time travels and the historical places books could take her. Always a child with a vivid imagination, she realized as an adult, she could put her imagination to good use and began writing. Marrying her very own hero, they live in Indiana in the town where she grew up. They have three beautiful children and one hyper dog. When Sarah isn’t writing, she enjoys gardening, camping, and watching her kids’ play sports.

Where to find Sarah-

Twitter- @SarahHoss1

You can also find Sarah on LinkedIN, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

For more information please visit Sarah's website...

***Sarah will be giving away an E-copy of HEAVEN SENT to one lucky commenter. Please leave a comment after this post, which includes your E-mail address so we may contact you should you WIN! Good luck!!!***


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Featured Today- HIGHLAND QUEST



No longer content in the shadows of his older brothers, Bryce Fraser rejoins the fight for Scottish independence, but arrives too late to inform his fellow patriots of a surprise ambush. Seriously wounded and left for dead, Bryce awakens to find Fallon MacCrery tending his wounds, a twist of fate that rekindles passion and desire he’d vowed to forget.

Gifted with second sight and having lost everyone she ever held dear, Fallon believes her ability and her love  are curses that if pursued will mean Bryce’s demise. But when she learns the English army plans to destroy the Bruce and his followers, she risks all to warn them, even her heart.

Can their unspoken love stand the test in a time of uncertainty and war, or will the plans of their enemy, a traitorous laird from a rival clan keep them apart forever?


Loch Ryan Scotland, 1307

“Wa . . . water,” Bryce mumbled, but there was no one there to listen.

His throat was parched and he ran his tongue over dry, cracked lips, but his action offered no relief. An entire loch lay only a few feet away, but he couldn’t muster the strength to drag himself to the bank and quench his thirst.

“Cold . . . so cold.”

Despite the sun beating down on him, he’d swear he was encased in ice. His life’s blood seeped from his wounds, soaking the ground beneath him. He tried to raise his head, but the excruciating pain radiating across his chest stole his breath away.

Was this what it felt like to die? If so, he prayed the Almighty would be merciful and take him now.

Bryce moaned, a shift in his position bringing on another nauseating wave of agony. He sucked in a short, sharp, gulp of air and stretched his arm out as far as he could, his fingers grappling in the dirt.

If only I could reach my sword.

Beads of perspiration dampened his brow. As the strength slowly drained from his body, drawing a simple breath became more difficult. The end grew near. No time to make amends for sins of the past, and he had committed his share.

Regrets? He had those, too. “Fallon.” He whispered her name then heaved a ragged sigh. He could see her beautiful face, her soft, porcelain-like skin with just a sprinkling of freckles across her nose. Raven tresses hanging loose in a riot of curls down her back. Her petite, slender body had just the right curves to drive a man wild with desire. Mysterious sapphire eyes that held him captive and a heart-shaped mouth he’d never tire of kissing. If he had one wish before he died, it would be to hold her in his arms one more time, to find himself nestled between her thighs, making love until neither of them could take anymore.

But he’d missed his chance when she left Fraser Castle after his brother’s wedding, returning with her clan to their home in the borderlands. Determined not to allow Fallon, or any woman, to breach the protective wall he’d built around his heart, he’d let her go.

A restless spirit, he longed for adventure. While he admired his two older brothers, he was tired of living in their shadows. Alasdair had turned down the position of Laird when their father and older brother were killed at Berwick on Tweed. Connor, the next in line, had accepted the responsibility and did the Clan proud. He was happily married and Bryce was certain his wee son, Andrew, would be raised to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Bryce held no land or title. Until he had made a name for himself and earned these things, he had nothing to offer a wife. But marriage and family were not part of his immediate plans. He loved women, all women. Be they large, small, short, tall, fair, or plain, it made no difference as long as they were willing to warm his bed, and expected no long-term commitment in return.

A rogue many would say, but he made no secret of his intentions. So far, this way of life had served him well, and should he die in battle, he’d leave no one behind to mourn his loss.

When he was a lad of sixteen, he’d made the mistake of falling for the daughter of the village smithy. Totally enamored with each other, they’d vowed their eternal love and he believed they’d marry some day.

He swallowed hard at the ball of emotion rising in his throat, and clenched his teeth against the sudden ache gripping his heart. He’d heard when a man is about to die, his life experiences flash before his eyes. But some memories were far too painful to revisit.

He balled his fists at his sides, his nails digging into his palms. He didn’t want to think about the past and didn’t want a woman in his life. While Fallon was the only lass who had tempted him to stray from his chosen path, she was better off without him. Or so he’d told himself when he returned from a morning ride to learn she’d left Fraser Castle without saying goodbye.

Clinging to the memory of their brief time together, Bryce closed his eyes and waited for death to take him. But distant voices and the sound of approaching footfall alerted him to the fact that he was no longer alone.

“Over here,” a man shouted. “I think this one is still breathing.”

“Aye, he’s alive, but for how long? The lad has lost a lot of blood,” another man commented and clucked his tongue.

Hovering on the edge of consciousness, Bryce heard the conversation going on between two men, maybe more. He tried to open his eyes, but the lids proved too heavy.

Judging by the familiar burr, these men were Scottish, but so were the traitorous bastards who had attacked them.

For a sennight, he’d ridden day and night. However in the end, he was too late to warn the Bruce’s brothers and their small group of Irish and Scottish islanders of the impending threat. Rushing headlong into an ambush and outnumbered four to one, their fate was sealed.

This wasn’t the first time the MacDougall Clan sided with the English. Staunch supporters of John Comyn’s bid for the Scottish crown, they’d turned their swords and their loyalty against their countrymen when Comyn was murdered at Grey Fryer’s Abbey and Robert the Bruce was accused of the deed.

After the massacre at Methven—the last major battle fought between the English and the Bruce before he went into hiding—the buggers lay in wait, attacking the Scottish survivors as they tried to make their way to the Argyle Mountains to regroup. The battle of Dail Righ would forever be a stain on the MacDougall clan’s name, and a battle Bryce would long remember.

Nor would he forget their leader. Today he’d had the long-awaited chance to make good on his oath to see the blackguard pay for his treasonous acts, but he’d failed. Instead, he’d found himself on the receiving end of Dungal’s sword.

“I canna believe Scots would kill Scots. These poor fellows dinna have a prayer of making it to shore unharmed,” the first man said.

“Aye, the ship was run aground and there must be at least fifty dead men on the bank of the loch. There appears to be a mix of Irish and Scots, but nary an English soldier or a MacDougall plaid among them.” The man speaking nudged Bryce’s shoulder with the toe of his boot. “This appears to be the only one alive.”

A dizzying wave of excruciating pain shot through Bryce’s chest as he was rolled onto to his side.

“What do you plan to do with this fellow, Donald?” the second man asked. “We canna just leave him here to bleed to death.”

“We’ll take him with us. My niece has some knowledge of healing. She cared for my wife when she had the pox . . . rest her soul.” Donald paused for a moment before he continued. “After Mairi died, the lass decided to stay on for a while. Mayhap there is something she can do for him. Best we make haste. I dinna want to be here if the bastards return.”

“I’ll be surprised if he survives the journey. But we can always bury him along the way if need be,” the second man responded.

Strong hands slid beneath Bryce’s shoulders, raising him to a sitting position, then someone grabbed his legs. A few garbled words of protest were all he could manage before darkness closed around him.





With a passion for historical romance, history in general, and anything Celtic, B.J. always has an exciting work in progress. Each story offers a blend of romance, adventure, suspense, and, where appropriate, a dab of comic relief. Carefully researched historical facts are woven into each manuscript, providing a backdrop from which steamy romance, gripping plots, and vivid characters—dashing alpha heroes and resourceful, beguiling heroines you can’t help but admire—spring to life. A PAN member of RWA, World Romance Writers, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, and Savvy Authors, B.J. also writes contemporary, paranormal, time travel, and romantic suspense.

C.S. Lewis first captivated B. J.’s imagination in the fourth grade, and her desire to write sprang from there. Following a career in nursing and child and youth work, B.J. married her knight-in-shining-armor, and he whisked her away to his castle by the sea. In reality, they share their century-old home in a small Canadian town on the shore of Lake Erie with four dogs and a cat. When she is not working at her childcare job, on her small business, or writing, you will find her reading, doing a variety of hand crafts, camping, or antique hunting.

To find out more about B.J. Scott and the other book in the Highland Series- HIGHLAND LEGACY please visit her website- or at her blog

*Highland Legacy will be On sale from Dec 11th to Dec 25th for $2.99* 
Highland Legacy, book one in the Highlander series. An Amazon best seller in historical romance and finalist in the Oklahoma RWA International Digital Awards 2012. Is available in print and e-book.



When we think of this holiday treat, we see a chocolate cake shaped like a log and decorated with colourful icing, sprinkles and sprigs of holly. In many countries, including Scotland these festive cakes are still used to mark the end of the year and to bring luck and good fortune to their home and loved ones.

But the origin of the Yule Log had nothing to do with cake or treats. The actual country of origin is not known for certain, but the tradition goes back centuries and was believed to have stemmed from Nordic cultures and Germany pagan rituals, later brought to Britain, Ireland and Scotland. The first record in Britain of the Yule log being associated with Christian celebrations was in 1620, but that does not mean it was not used prior to that date.

In Ancient Europe, before medieval times the Yule Log was associated with the Winter Solstice, or Yule, celebrating the rebirth of the sun. Celts and Druids would select a large piece of wood, often from an oak, pine or evergreen because they were believed to hold magical properties, decorated them with mistletoe and holly--two plants associated with the Yule season for their magical and protective powers. The Yule log was then blessed, lit with a torch from the previous year’s log, and kept burning for twelve days and nights. Being a dark and cold time of year, by doing so and keeping the fire burning for that designated length of time, they believed it would not only bring good luck and prosperity, but also ensure the return of the sun and warmth. To allow the fire to burn out would bring bad luck, so it was tended with care.

Later associated with Christian rituals of Christmas and twelfth night festivities, the log were selected with care, decorated and dragged into the home on Christmas Eve. Sometimes an entire tree was used. The largest end placed on the hearth and lit using twigs or torches saved from the log of the previous year. The remainder of the log stuck out into the middle of the room, but as the fire consumed the wood, the tree was fed into the hearth as needed, by the end of the twelve days all that remained was ash and remnants to be saved and used the following year to light the next log. The ash was saved and sprinkled on fields to aid the crop and in the well to assure it did not run dry.

As the years past and open hearths became obsolete, the tradition of the Yule log diminished in Europe. However the belief in its power still remains and the tradition kept alive on a much smaller, more practical scale. Symbolic Yule logs are still selected and decorated for the season and lets not forget the Yule log we can eat.

So as you cut a slice of your chocolate treat this holiday season, think about the origin of the Yule log and how it became part of our Christmas traditions.

Traditional Yule Log Recipe

2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons water

1/2 pint whipped cream
2 tablespoons icing (confectioners') sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup butter
2 cups icing (confectioners') sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan, and line with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper.

Mix flour, soda, and salt together.

Beat eggs in a small mixer bowl at high speed, until thick and light - about 5 minutes.

Gradually add the sugar, and beat until thick.

Melt the chocolate and water together, and add to the egg mixture.

Fold in the dry ingredients, and mix gently but thoroughly.

Spread in prepared pan, and bake for 15 - 17 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Remove from oven and turn out immediately onto a tea towel that has been sprinkled generously with icing sugar.

Remove waxed paper, and trim of any crisp edges of the cake.

Begin at the narrow end, and roll up the cake and the tea towel together. Allow to cool.

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Stir in icing sugar and vanilla and whip until stiff.

Unroll the cake when cool, and spread the top with the whip cream.

Re-roll, without the towel.

Cut a thin slice off of each end of the roll, to make them even.

Soften butter. Combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and of good spreading consistency.

Use the centres of the ends you sliced off the cake to make "bumps on the log": Use a little of the icing to affix the bump to the side of the cake - one on each side.

Ice the entire cake with the icing, including the ends and the bumps.

Run a fork along the icing so that it resembles tree bark.

Sprinkle with icing sugar, and decorate with holly or other Christmas decoration leaves.
Store in refrigerator.


Please leave your E-mail address so we may notify you should you win!

Monday, December 17, 2012


By Cynthia Owens
Book Three of the CLADDAGH SERIES

He fled life in the shadows for a life in the limelight

Never as dutiful as his older brother, Lucas Davenport was a thinker, a dreamer of dreams. When tragedy overtook his family, he fled to the bright lights of the stage. Can he make the Shannon Theatre Troupe a success – or is he doomed to once again be “the other son?”

She sought the past she barely remembered.

Mary Kathryn O’Brien returns to the genteel world her mother left behind – but can Irish Katie ever truly hope to belong? Or will old wounds and new rivalries destroy the threads of family forever?

Lucas and Katie must battle prejudice and buried secrets before they can learn to trust each other. Is their love just a brief intermission, or are they Playing For Keeps?


Philadelphia, 1850

Luke stared in silent horror as glowing red flames devoured the warehouse.
What have you done this time?
The words resounded through Luke’s brain, condemning and inevitable, in his father’s disapproving tones.
What had he done? He’d secured the warehouses. He had, he was sure of it. He’d made certain all the forges were out.
Hadn’t he? Or had his head been too full of the play he’d been studying in secret, the characters he was determined to flesh out, the pages he’d obsessively filled with his own dreams and interpretations?
Clanging bells and pounding hooves hammered in his ears.
Thank you, God.
But as quickly as relief flared, terror chased close on its heels.
Dear God, was anyone still inside? Tobias, his father’s most trusted clerk—surely he’d left long ago. And the two young men Matt hired last month—hadn’t they spoken of going to The Dancing Horse to spend their first pay packets?
He struggled for breath, the acrid smell of burning wood and molten steel tearing at his throat.
Bleak realization swept through him. It was his fault. It had to be. But it was an accident
Matthew. Matt would take care of everything. Matt always cleaned up his little brother’s messes, covered up Luke’s many shortcomings.
“Mr. Lucas? Mr. Lucas!”
Dazed, Luke stared in disbelief at the normally impeccable clerk. Tobias had lost his coat, his once pristine white linen shirt was torn and covered with soot. Luke’s gut clenched as he took in the other man’s wild hair, the bloody gash slashed cruelly across one cheek.
“Mr. Lucas!”
Luke grabbed Tobias’s arm, his head thudding, his fingers gripping convulsively. Fear struck ice cold in his heart. His entire body shaking, he ran his dry tongue over his ash-covered lips.
“Tobias, where’s Matt?”
The clerk gazed at Luke, pity darkening his eyes. Tears trailed slowly down his soot-blackened face.
“Mr. Matthew’s dead, sir.”



I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My novels, In Sunshine or in Shadow and Coming Home, set in post-Famine Ireland, are available from Highland Press. Playing For Keeps, the third book in the Claddagh series, will also be published by Highland Press.

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.

To learn more about Cynthia and her other books please visit her website-


Saturday, December 15, 2012


By Beth Trissel

Fated lovers have a rare chance to reclaim the love cruelly denied them in the past, but can they grasp this brief window in time before it’s too late?

Two hundred years ago Captain Cole Wentworth, the master of an elegant Virginian home, was murdered in his chamber where his portrait still hangs. Presently the estate is a family owned museum run by Will Wentworth, a man so uncannily identical to his ancestor that spirit-sensitive tour guide Julia Morrow has trouble recognizing Cole and Will as separate. As Julia begins to remember the events of Cole’s death, she must convince Will that history is repeating, and this time he has the starring role in the tragedy. The blade is about to fall.


Check out Beth's other books on her website -



Friday, December 14, 2012

Recommended Read- THE RECRUIT

By Monica McCarty

Scotland’s King Robert the Bruce is retaking his kingdom from the invading English. To win, he’ll need all the grit and courage of his elite band of warriors, the Highland Guard, men who fight without fear and love without limits.

Fiery, aggressive, and bold, Kenneth Sutherland is a true champion—skilled with any weapon and driven to win. Now Kenneth is ready for his greatest challenge: joining Robert the Bruce’s secret army to fight among the elite. Kenneth’s best chance to attain that honor is by winning the Highland Games. Focused and prepared for victory, he is caught off guard by a lovely wisp of a woman—and a stolen moment of wicked seduction. Her innocent arousal and her shameless hunger fire his blood. He will win his place in the guard—and in Mary of Mar’s bed.

The ruggedly handsome hero-in-the-making stirs a heart that should know better. Mary vows that her surrender will be sport only—no promises, no heartbreak, just one night of incredible passion. Nothing, she swears, will persuade her to give up her hard-wrought independence and put her fate in the hands of another powerful man. But with every gentle touch and heart-pounding kiss, Kenneth makes her want more. Now Mary wants his heart. But is this determined champion willing to surrender everything for love?


To read an excerpt from THE RECRUIT visit Monica McCarty on the web- 

*I am OBSESSED with Monica McCarty's HIGHLAND GUARD series and have been waiting somewhat impatiently for this book- AND it did not disappoint!!! If you haven't read this, you need too!!! And if you haven't read the rest of the Highland Guard books- Run out and buy them all!!! You won't be DISAPPOINTED!!!!!!!!!!!*


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


By Eliza Knight

A Highlander tamed…

Laird Daniel Murray seeks adventure, battle and freedom for his countrymen. Putting off his duties as laird—with a promise to his clan he’ll return come spring—Daniel sets off with his men to fight alongside William Wallace and the Bruce. But soon he stumbles across an enchanting lady in need. She tantalizes him with an offer he simply can’t refuse and a desire he attempts to dismiss.

A lady’s passion ignited…

Escaping near death at the treacherous hands of a nearby clan, Lady Myra must find the Bruce and relay the news of an enemy within his own camp. Alone in a world full of danger and the future of her clan at stake, she must trust the handsome, charismatic Highland laird who promises to keep her safe on her journey—and sets her heart to pounding.

Together, Daniel and Myra will risk not only their lives, but their hearts while discovering the true meaning of hope and love in a world fraught with unrest.

I’m excited to announce the release of the third book in my Stolen Bride series, THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY (available in print and ebook). Today, I’d love to share an excerpt from the first chapter of my new release! Thank you, Chicks, for letting me visit with you!



Early December
Highlands, 1297

A loud crash sounded from below stairs, startling Lady Myra from her prayers. What in all of heaven was that?

She’d been sequestered in the chapel for most of the morning—penance for her latest bout of eavesdropping.

The chapel was dark, lit only by a few candles upon the altar. A fierce winter gust blew open the shudders, causing the candle flames to waver. Myra rushed to the windows, securing the shudders once more, feeling the wood rattle against her fingertips.

Her stomach muscles tightened with unease. There were not often sounds like this at Foulis. In fact, she’d never heard such before.

The very floors seemed to shake. Imagination going wild, she pictured the boards beneath her feet splintering and falling through to the great hall below.

Myra kept a keen ear, waiting for a sign that would reassure her that nothing was amiss. For once she hoped to hear her older brother, Laird Munro, railing at the clumsy servant who’d dropped something, but there was nothing save an eerie silence. The hair along her neck rose and with it, her skin prickled as an acute sense of dread enveloped her.

The castle was never this silent.

“Astrid?” she called out to her maid—but there was no reply. Not even the scurrying of her servant’s feet across the floor. Where had the maid gone? She was supposed to wait for Myra outside the chapel door. “Astrid!” she called a little louder this time, but still there was no reply.

’Twas as if she were alone, but that made no sense. Foulis Castle was always bustling with people. Unable to stand the silence, Myra scrambled to her feet. She lit a tallow candle by the hearth to light her way in the darkened corridor and slowly crept toward the door of the family chapel. Nothing but a whisper of a breeze from her gown disturbed the areas where she passed—’twas how she was able to eavesdrop so often. Locked away, supposedly for her own good, since she was a girl, she learned an important lesson. If she were to find out anything of import, she had to be secretive and slick, so she learned to creep.

She did so now with practiced ease, sidestepping boards known to creak and pausing every few moments to listen for sounds. She strained to hear a whisper, someone’s breathing, anything that would assure her that she had in fact let her imagination get the best of her. But there was nothing.

Fighting hard to keep the fear from suffocating her, she reached the door, and with tortured slowness gripped the cool iron handle. She wanted to throw it open, and ignore the dread that held her hand still. But she had to trust her instincts. Something was terribly wrong. She could feel it. Myra leaned in close, pressing her ear to the frozen wood. She remained motionless, listening. Again silence. Satisfied there was no imminent threat, she began to open the door. An earth shattering shriek and another loud crash broke the silence. Myra slammed the door. Was that…? She shook her head. It couldn’t be. Scrambling away from the door, she dropped her candle which snuffed itself out. God’s teeth! Was that a battle cry? Granted, she’d never heard one before, but ’twas not just any shout. Nay, this sound was terrifying. A cry that sent her knees to shaking and her lip to bleeding from biting it so hard.

She could barely see, the candles at the altar weren’t putting off enough light.  What in blazes was she supposed to do? How would she protect herself? Damn those guards. Why hadn’t there been any warning? Shouts of caution. Why hadn’t the gates been closed?

Was it possible that she’d just not heard the warnings? She had been deep in prayer, worrying about her sore knees, and to add insult to injury she’d needed to use the privy for hours. Had she been that preoccupied? Angered? So distracted that if someone had shouted in her ear she probably wouldn’t have heard it? She took a deep breath to figure out her next course of action.

The secret stairways!  Lucky for her, the chapel was located in a tiny corridor off the gallery above the great hall. A hidden stair, inside the chapel, led up to the master’s chamber. Embarrassed after her penances—which were often, Myra chose not to venture into the great hall, instead she preferred to use the hidden stairs. She knew them well. All of them.  When she was just a girl, her father had shown her where they were located, and when she’d once found them fun, she now found comfort in their obscurity. Now they would not only help hide her embarrassment but they might even save her life.

Myra did regret being sent to Father Holden for having listened in on a very private and political conversation. Her ears burned from hearing all the things he and his allies had said. Worry consumed her.

But this was no time to think back on that conversation. Or was it?

There’d been a warning. Rumors of an impending attack. But who would attack Foulis? Any why? Such an act was foolish. They had excellent fortifications. A stone gate tower was built at the front of the castle walls, with at least a half dozen guards on watch at a time. Her brother Byron made sure the gate was always closed, and most often barred. Their walls were thick and she’d thought impenetrable. If they were being attacked, there should have been fair warning. The guards could see all around the castle. No hidden spots for an enemy to hide. Her brother’s retainers kept guard upon the walls and the lands. This she knew—so how?

Then Myra remembered— from a neighboring clan, Laird Magnus Sutherland had told her brother that they suspected an attack would come from a trusted ally. There would be no warning. Anyone could be the enemy. Except Magnus had warned of one.


Upon her father’s deathbed this past spring, he’d signed a betrothal contract between Myra and Laird Ross—despite Ross being old enough to be her father. Myra and Ross’ daughter, Ina—who made Myra want to pull her own hair out—were the same age. Myra crinkled her nose. Wasn’t it wrong to be the stepmother of a woman who shared her birth year?

Myra’s reaction to the news of her betrothal had garnered her a penance too—three days in a hair shirt and her skin had been so irritated she’d not been comfortable in even the softest linen chemise Astrid could find for her for nearly a fortnight.

Could it be him? Was that how the enemy had gained entrance without warning? If ’twas Ross, the he probably tricked everyone into thinking he’d come to discuss the impending alliance between their two clans. Byron wouldn’t have suspected an attack—despite the warning—he was too trustworthy.

Myra backed toward the center of the room. Faint cries of pain floated through the floorboards. Fear snaked its way around her spine and threatened to take away her mobility. She grabbed the wooden slat leaning against the wall to bar the door. The candles flickered. Whoever was downstairs was not here for a friendly visit. Heaven help her. They would leave no room unturned. Myra prayed her brother and his wife, Rose who was heavy with child, were safe. That Astrid was hunkered down somewhere with the other servants. She covered her ears from the cries of pain and anger. There was little doubt the enemy was causing great destruction.

“Zounds!” Myra tamped the candles on the altar, putting the chapel into shadows and stalked toward the tapestry of a great wildcat on the hunt. She flipped back the covering, not even a speck of dust to make her sneeze since she used it so often. Pressing on the rock that opened the hidden door, she slipped into the black, closing the door behind her. Silent, she welcomed the comfort of nothingness as she slid her feet along the landing until she reached the first step. Finally something positive had come from her many penances, after using this particular staircase at least a thousand times, she knew the exact measurements of each step. The depth, the height. They fit her feet perfectly now.

Fingers trailing over the dusty, crumbling stone walls, she made her way carefully but briskly down the stairs until she reached the wall behind her brother’s study. She peered through the imperceptible crack in the wall where she often stood to listen—as she had just the day before. The room was lit by a few candles as though her brother had been there, but he was not now. The room was empty and undisturbed.

Where was he? And Rose?

Myra’s unease was slowly turning into an acute fear. She refused to let her nerves take over. There had to be another explanation. They couldn’t be under attack. She refused to believe it. Her mind skipped over every other possibility. Perhaps the men were involved in another round of betting. Fighting each other to see who could best who. That made sense. All the servants would be crowded in the minstrel’s gallery above to watch, and the great hall would be a raucous room full of shouting, sweating, swearing warriors.

That had to be it. A mock battle of some sort.

Yet, this felt different. Every nerve in her body strained and her teeth chattered with fear. Why was she reacting so physically when it might possibly be nothing more than a bit of rowdy warrior fun? Her overactive imagination? Probably. But, she would have to see for herself. Myra continued along her path, winding down and nearly to the great hall when she heard a distant whimpering. Nothing more than a whisper of a sound, but in the complete and silent dark, it was telling. Recalling the number of steps she’d taken, she calculated that she must be just outside Rose’s solar. She ran her hand along the wall searching for the small metal handle, then nudged the door an inch ajar. It was indeed Rose’s solar, and the whimpering was coming from inside, but she couldn’t see who it was, since the doorway was hidden behind a bureau that was pushed against it.

Myra listened for a few moments longer to discern if there was only one person in the room. It had to be Bryon’s wife. “Rose?” she whispered.

The whimpering stopped.

“Hello?” came the tentative voice of her sister-by-marriage.

She called to her softly, “Rose, ’tis Myra.”

A scuffling, like shoes scooting across the floor sounded within the room. Within moments Rose’s tear-stained face peered through the crack. Her brown eyes were red rimmed and her fiery curls jutted in frantic wisps from her head.

Myra!” she whispered frantically. “Ye must help me. They’ve come. I think they killed Byron. Everyone.”

“Who? Wait, help me push this door open, ye must come in here.”

Rose shook her head. “They are tearing the castle apart as we speak. If I come in there, then they will too.”

Myra’s sister-by-marriage was right. It would be impossible for them to put the bureau back in place. They had to escape unnoticed. The secret passages were the only way—and they had to remain concealed. “Can ye get to Byron’s library? There’s a passage through the hearth.”

Rose looked about frantically, as if expecting the door to her solar to bang open at any moment. She nodded, fear filling her eyes.

“I will meet ye there. Go. Quickly.” Myra reached her fingers through the door and gripped Rose’s, hoping to give her some measure of comfort. “I will be there waiting.”

Rose nodded again, squeezing Myra’s hand with trembling fingers.

“I’m going now, Myra.”

There was silence and then a creak as Rose opened the door. For several agonizing heartbeats, Myra waited. Waited for Rose to be struck down. Waited for the sound of shouts as she made her escape. Waited for something horrifying to happen. But there was nothing.

Myra counted to thirty, slowly, with even breaths, and then she ran back up the dark winding stair until she reached Byron’s library. Peeking through the crack, she determined the room was still empty. With trembling fingers she found the hook in the wall, and slid her finger through it yanking and twisting until the lock unlatched and the wall opened behind the hearth. The library’s hidden door was heavy, but not as heavy as it could be. Made from plaster to look like stone, it was a perfect disguise within the wall. Ashes from the grate stirred and made her cough. She hid her face in her cloak to stifle the sound, and muttered a prayer of thanks for no fire being in the hearth.

Her heart felt as though it would explode, racing like sheep hunted by wolves. Myra crouched low to wait for Rose, hoping that should the enemy enter she’d have time to shut the hidden door without their notice.

Dear God, let Rose make it here safely.

Want to read more? THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY is available from the following   E-tailers…
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Eliza Knight is the multi-published, award-winning, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. 

Visit Eliza at or her historical blog History Undressed:

*Get your copy of THE HIGHLANDERS LADY TODAY! And check out ELIZA'S website for a look at her other books.*

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