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A Luscious Feature – True to the Highlander by Barbara Longley

by on March 20, 2014


Award winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance novels, Barbara Longley, launches new time travel/historical series beginning with the first Loch Moigh novel: TRUE TO THE HIGHLANDER released on 2/18/14.


A life hangs in the balance . . .

A king held for ransom, a country under thumb, clans at one another’s throats. Malcolm of clan MacKintosh has enough to worry about without finding a mysterious lass sleeping on the side of his road. He tries to help her—in his overbearing, arrogant way—and winds up flat on his back. God’s blood, who is this woman . . . and why does she captivate him so?

And only she can tip the scales.

The fortune-teller said something about saving a life, then zapped Alethia Goodsky back to fifteenth-century Scotland—a land bristling with broadswords and intrigue. Alethia is no damsel in distress, though, even if brawny, blue-eyed Malcolm has sworn to protect her. With her wits and special abilities, she races to solve the gypsy’s mystery and protect those she’s come to love. The stakes climb higher and enemies close in, forcing Alethia to choose between finding her way home . . . and staying true to her Highlander.

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Excerpt ~

Alethia Goodsky gave all things supernatural a wide berth—and Madame Giselle reeked of magic. The old fortune-teller often followed her around the fairgrounds, popping up whenever Alethia took her breaks—always watching. She couldn’t help but feel uneasy around the woman.

Fixing a wary eye on the fortune-teller’s green-and-white-striped tent, she contemplated the two paths before her. The longer route to the parking lot meant an uphill trek all the way around the New York Renaissance Festival fairgrounds, in her gown no less. The shorter path cut the distance in half, but she’d have to pass within a foot of Madame Giselle’s door.

A gust of wind whipped a cloud of dust into her face, stinging her eyes. She gagged on the sour smell of garbage carried by the breeze, and exhaustion tugged her toward the shorter route. As much as she loved her job at the Renaissance festival, weeks of working around the clock had taken their toll.

Shifting the strap of the canvas duffel biting into her shoulder, Alethia started down the hill, her violin case bumping against her hip with each step. Near the tent’s entrance, she clutched the skirt of her Renaissance gown and tiptoed past.

The sound of muffled sobs brought her to a halt. Crying? Torn, she listened for a moment before compassion won out over common sense. Moving the tent flap aside, she peered in. “Hello, is everything all right in here?”

“No, it’s not.” Madame Giselle had changed out of her gypsy costume and into gabardine slacks, a cashmere sweater and a suede blazer. Riffling through her designer handbag, she resembled nothing more sinister than someone’s upper-class grandmother. She pulled out a linen handkerchief and turned to face Alethia. “I’m glad you stopped by. Come in.”

Alethia really didn’t want to go into that tent, but she’d been the fool who’d lifted the flap, and disrespecting an elder went against the grain. She took a tentative step forward. “What’s the matter?”

“Oh.” Giselle blew her nose into the fancy hanky. “Someone I care about is in grave danger. I’d do anything to help.” She turned red, puffy eyes toward Alethia. “Wouldn’t you if it were someone in your family?”

“Yes, ma’am, I would.”

“I thought as much.” Giselle’s eyes lit up through her teary smile. Dark eyes shining with acuity and something deeper fixed on Alethia. “You grew up on your father’s reservation, didn’t you, near the Canadian border?”

“How could you possibly know that?” The familiar prickle of unease she felt around Giselle cat-pawed its way up Alethia’s spine.

“Not all of what I do is for show.” Giselle arched an eyebrow. “You better than anyone should understand.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Heat rose to Alethia’s cheeks at the lie.

“Come now, you can be honest with me. You have . . . certain gifts, do you not?”

Gifts? That’s not the word she’d use to describe her abilities. Alethia could read other people’s energy and always knew whether someone was lying or telling the truth. She’d read everything she could about ESP. Her talent wasn’t all that unique. Still, on top of being biracial, her so-called gift made it even more difficult to fit in. “I don’t—”

“There are depths to you not yet tapped,” Giselle added as if speaking to herself. “You’d be able to survive anywhere.” Her eyes narrowed. “You have plans for the future, a carefully laid path already in the works?”

She didn’t know about the tapping depths part, but her plans at least felt like safe territory. Alethia nodded. “I graduate from Juilliard next spring, and I already have a job lined up in Los Angeles.” Pride rippled through her. “I’ll be playing in a Hollywood orchestra that does soundtracks for movies.”

“Sounds lovely.” Giselle smiled back. “Why don’t you sit? That pack looks heavy.”

“I can’t stay. My ride is waiting.” Alethia stepped back, and the air in the tent became charged with an unfamiliar tension. Magic. Giselle’s image blurred and shifted as if it had been superimposed over another’s, more ethereal and insubstantial. Alethia’s heart beat inside her chest like a fly trapped in a glass jar.

She blinked, and the ordinary grandmother in gabardine came back into focus. Not possible. It’s exhaustion, that’s all. Alethia took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“Stay for a moment.” Giselle pointed toward a rickety chair set close to an equally shabby table. “I thought of you while packing my things.”

Alethia frowned as her legs carried her toward the chair. She didn’t want to sit, much less stay, but she couldn’t seem to turn herself around to march out that door. “You thought about me?”

“Oh yes. I’ve been thinking about you for a very long time.”

“A long time? This is the first festival we’ve ever worked together, and we’ve never even had a conversation. How—”

“Time is relative, Alethia, and completely malleable for one such as myself.”

What the hell does that mean? Despite her desire to bolt, Alethia stayed planted where she was. Giselle mumbled to herself while she rummaged through a plastic bin full of her fortune-telling paraphernalia. Alethia shuddered as she listened.

“Ah, here it is.” Giselle turned back with a pendant on a gold chain dangling from her hands. The charm was an animal effigy made of Celtic knots with a green stone mounted in the middle. “You’ve been so kind, stopping by to cheer me up even though I’m a stranger to you. I want you to have this.” She slipped the pendant around Alethia’s neck.

Alethia traced the intricate design with her finger. The knots formed the image of a crane. Among her father’s people, the Anishinaabe, she belonged to the Crane clan. “It’s beautiful, but I can’t keep this.” She lifted the chain over her head to return it. “It must be worth a fortune.”

“It’s yours.” Giselle caught her hands and pushed the pendant back down around Alethia’s neck. “This was crafted in the Highlands of Scotland eons ago. It is fitting that you should have it. Don’t you think?”

Her mother had been Scottish, a MacConnell, but how could Giselle know so much about her life? The gold chain came to rest with unnatural warmth against Alethia’s skin. Every instinct she had screamed at her to get the hell out of there. Now. “Thanks. Can I pay you for the necklace? I didn’t really do anything to deserve it.”

“Ah, but you will.” Giselle laughed. “I don’t want your money. The pendant is a gift.”


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