After incorporating a time travel element in the form of flashbacks to early nineteenth century Virginia into my first such novel, Somewhere My Love, my ultimate challenge was setting a time travel romance novel in Scotland. I’ve never physically been there, though many in my family have and told me all about its grandeur and charm. I’ve certainly read, heard, and seen many descriptions of Scotland. Being a history buff I’ve read up on and watched numerous programs set in the British Isles. I’m a British junkie, an anglophile, while equally preoccupied with early America. But then America and Great Britain are both tied together, and were especially linked in the colonial time period. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where I live and my family has lived for several hundred years resembles the hills, mountains, and valleys of Scotland and Ireland that drew so many Scots/Irish to settle here. So that gave me an ‘in.’
Up until SOMEWHERE MY LASS I’ve set all my stories in America, past and present. This departure to Scotland was, as I said, indeed a challenge, but I drew deeply on my English Scots-Irish roots, which I’ve been doing all along. Apart from the prominent Native American heroes and characters in my work (Through the Fire, Red Bird’s Song, Daughter of the Wind) the others are all of English/Scots-Irish backgrounds, with a smidgen of French. My ancestors, too, have a smidgen of French in the meld.
Blurb: Neil MacKenzie’s well ordered life turns to chaos when Mora Campbell shows up claiming he’s her fiancé from 1602 Scotland. Her avowal that she was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, is utter nonsense, and Neil must convince her that she is just addled from a blow to her head–or so he believes until the MacDonald himself shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past. Although her kinsmen believe he’s dead, and she is now destined to marry Niall’s brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The only problem is how to get back to 1602 before it’s too late. The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. An ancient relic and a few good friends in the future help pave the way back to the past, but will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?
“You are a beauty.” His words were a hoarse whisper.
The rise and fall of her chest betrayed a deep inhalation of breath. A flicker of reproach lit her eyes.
“I dinna think ye took heed of me at all.”
He winced at the well-deserved jab. “About before, I’m sorry I left you so suddenly. But there’s no earthly way I could fail to notice you. I’d have to be deaf, dumb, and blind and even then…”
The tension in her face eased and then the hurt returned. “Oh, aye? How could ye forget all ye knew?”
He remained as he was, threading that wealth of hair through his fingers. Again, the rational part of him argued, “Is it possible you’re imagining you knew me before?”
She balked, a mutinous glint in her eyes. “Nae.”
A slight gasp escaped her lips. He muted any outward response to the thrill running through him.
The scooped neckline of her nightgown revealed the tops of white breasts sprinkled with freckles. Above this heart-hammering sight hung the crucifix. “I gave this to you?” he managed to ask without betraying the swell of emotion surging inside him.
“At our betrothal.”
How in the name of— Stunned beyond oaths, Neil gaped down at the slender young woman dressed in an outlandish Scottish costume. Hair the color of a flaming sunset spilled down over the red and blue tartan plaid draped around her like a shawl. A circular brass brooch heavily engraved by some skilled craftsman held the edges together. A full green skirt covered the rest of her, a hint of petticoats beneath. Good God. She looked straight out of the Old Country. In profound disbelief, he knelt beside her and laid his hand on her shoulder. He wasn’t hallucinating. She was real enough, warm against his hand. Stranger still, the peaty scent of turf smoke emanated from her. And some perfume he couldn’t place, but inherently knew.
Moss rose, maybe? The rich meld of fragrances carried him back, but to where? Baffled, he shook her gently. “Miss?” She gave a soft moan. “Are you hurt?” he asked.
She turned toward him, fluttering a dark fringe of auburn lashes. Another moan issued from between what surely were petal soft lips. He frowned at the ugly bruise marring her forehead. Had that maniac done this to her?
The rest of her smooth skin was pale except for the sprinkle of freckles on her nose—not too long with a pert tilt, Neil noted, along with an absence of any other immediate injuries. Thank God he hadn’t been too late to help this young woman. Perhaps he’d frightened off her attacker, the coward. Although he had no idea where the killer had gone.
Neil remained on his guard. He mustn’t take anything for granted. The only certainty—a violent criminal was on the loose. Difficult to keep watching over his shoulder, though, with the inexplicable stranger commanding his attention.
Intrigued, despite the gruesome circumstances of their meeting, Neil locked his gaze on her once again. Vivid blue eyes, cast with a purplish hue, opened wide. Unusual color and deeply stirring. She blinked and stared up at him as if he’d materialized out of the mist. But it was she who’d mysteriously come upon him with such wonder and beauty.
His already pounding heart skipped a beat for an entirely different reason now. He looked long into her eyes…for a moment he forgot the grisly murder, forgot everything. There was a timeless quality in those violet depths; the term “window to the soul” took on a whole new meaning. And it seemed to him that he’d seen these eyes before… Impossible.
He came back to himself. Mastering the tremor threatening his speech, he said, “You were knocked out, but you’ll be all right.”
The hair on the back of Neil’s neck bristled. And so it begins, a voice inside him said.
*Above Pic of The Door to Nowhere, or so Neil thinks.
*SOMEWHERE MY LASS was featured on Barbara Vey’s blog at Publisher’s Weekly!