WINNER OF THE CONTEST IS
By B.J. SCOTT
Book Two in the HIGHLAND SERIES- Sequel to HIGHLAND LEGACY
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.
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
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
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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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- www.authorbjscott.com
or at her blog http://authorbjscott.wordpress.com/
*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.
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*IN SPIRIT OF THE SEASON- THE YULE LOG*
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.
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.
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
As the years past and open hearths became obsolete, the
tradition of the Yule log diminished in Europe
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
Traditional Yule Log Recipe
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
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.
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