Title: HIGHLAND MEMORIES (Highland Talents Heritage Series Book 2)
Author: Willa Blair
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
When fosterling David MacDhai left the Lathan clan, he took the shards of Lianna Lathan’s young love with him. Until the day she follows a gravely ill horse to its injured rider, she believes her heart is past mending. Stunned by a flood of memories, she recognizes the man on the ground before her is the lad she’s dreamed of for seven long years and thought never to see again.
David MacDhai recently inherited a troubled keep in the Highlands. As laird, it is his responsibility to put a stop to whatever is sickening the horses his clan relies on for income and defense. His only hope to save them—and to strengthen his tenuous hold on his clan—lies at the end of a painful journey. David seeks the Highland Healer’s special talents, but her daughter, Lianna, is the one who may hold the key to saving his clan.
Though Lianna is determined not to give David the power to hurt her again, for the sake of his horses, she cannot refuse to go with him. Seeing her unlocks an aching need that he kept hidden deep in his heart and in his memories. As they struggle to uncover the origin of the mysterious ailment, they fight to control the embers of passion flaring brightly between them once more. Can they heal the pain of the past when their very lives may be at risk?
Lianna Lathan laughed as her mare, Brigh, raced across the sunlit glen below her clan’s stronghold, the Aerie. She kept her fingers threaded loosely in Brigh’s mane, trusting her mare to tell her if she needed a firmer grip with thighs or hands. Scents of horse and leather, springtime flowers, crushed grasses and the earth kicked up by Brigh’s hooves filled Lianna’s nose. Her heart pounded in time with Brigh’s hammered strides, and her special sense let her revel in the mare’s enjoyment of the run. For as long as Lianna could, she meant to relish the shared freedom Brigh gave her. They would race back toward the Aerie’s high tor soon enough.
As the woods bordering the glen rose up before her, she slowed Brigh to catch her breath, and turned her along the edge of the trees. She kept her gaze on the woods, alert for danger. Pine and forest loam filled her nose, scents she associated with her father’s displeasure.
Her agreement with her father, Toran, Laird Lathan, allowed her to ride through the glen as she liked, as long as she stayed in sight of the guards manning the Aerie’s walls above her. She’d only disobeyed once, years before, not long after her first moon blood awakened her talent, making her feel as wild as the creatures that called to her. To earn her father’s ire that day, she’d followed a chattering red squirrel into the trees. Over her mother’s objections that her talent must be nurtured, her father had refused to allow her to ride in the glen for a month afterward. She knew better than to risk crossing him again.
But something moving in the trees ahead of her caught her eye, sending an unaccustomed shiver down her spine. She clicked her tongue and urged Brigh toward it with a light tap of her heels to her mount’s sides. Brigh took a reluctant step forward, then paused as if asking, “Really? Ye ken what happened the last time.” She seemed to have learned the laird’s rules, too.
A riderless horse stepped into view between the trees. Saddled, head low, the stallion nickered and hobbled slowly toward her. Lianna didn’t need her talent to know something was very wrong.
She twisted around in her saddle and waved at the Aerie’s stone battlements to attract a guard’s attention. Once she saw a guard wave in answer, she urged Brigh toward the strange horse. Several of the Aerie’s guards would soon race down the tor to find her. Good. She might need their help.
“Come along, laddie,” she crooned to the strange horse. Her special sense thrummed harder in her blood the closer she approached him.
Brigh whinnied and shook her head, making her tack ring. A warning?
The stallion stopped, legs braced wide apart, head low, as if he hadn’t the strength to take another step.
“Bollocks. Something is very wrong with him,” Lianna muttered and urged Brigh forward, under the trees. The sunlight dimmed to soft green, and shadows closed in around them. Lianna glanced in all directions, but nothing moved.
That was no mountain horse. A destrier, or another breed of war horse, big and black. If he wasn’t in this condition, she’d have reason to fear him, but she sensed no threat.
For Brigh’s sake, she stopped a few lengths from the strange horse and looked beyond him. “Where is yer rider?” There was no one, no rider, no sense of impending ambush, nothing. All the usual forest sounds continued, birds calling, squirrels chattering. A breeze wafted through the woods toward her, intensifying the tree and loam smells, but it brought along something else, as well. Horse sweat and something she couldn’t identify—and didn’t like.
She dismounted, went to the horse and knelt by his head, talking softly to keep him calm. “Are ye tired, laddie? Or is something else amiss? Why is yer saddle empty?” She hesitated to touch him, but she had to know. She placed a hand on his neck, then pulled it away, sickened. This animal was very ill. Silently, she warned Brigh not to come any closer. Lianna didn’t know yet what ailed him, but if his rider was in the same condition, she must find him, and fast.
Before she could stand, the horse gathered himself and lifted his head, then moved a few steps away from her, deeper into the trees. There, he paused and looked back at her, entreaty in his dark, liquid gaze.
“Follow ye, then?” Along with his dire condition, she’d sensed his need to bring her with him. But where? She mounted Brigh and moved toward the horse. He turned his head away and led them into the trees. Before long, she saw where he was guiding her. A man lay on his back in a clearing just ahead. She rode around the ill horse into the clearing, dropped her reins and dismounted. With caution born of her father’s concern, she studied the man and the ground around him as she crept closer.
Blood soaked his left sleeve and dripped from his scalp to stain the ground below his head. His face turned away from her, and tangled dark blond hair shielded it, but his chest rose, assuring her he lived. He didn’t move as she bent and touched his neck with two fingertips. A strong heartbeat pulsed in his throat.
He couldn’t have been lying there bleeding for long. The forest was full of predators and the scent of blood would’ve drawn them. And she was in no position to fight off a wolf pack. She glanced around, but nothing moved at ground level. Not yet.
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What’s your favorite activity to shake off the winter doldrums?
Reading! Nothing beats getting cozy with a good book, a glass of wine, and a purring cat in my lap, another dozing in front of flames dancing in a hearth.
Why is your featured book a cure for the winter blues?
I love second-chance romances. Lianna and David fell in love too young. Because of the pain of years apart, they struggle to forgive each other while they fight to save MacDhai’s horses. Their love for each other—and their futures—are at stake.
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon CA account to win.
Runs March 1 – 31
Drawing will be held on April 1.
Willa Blair is an Amazon #1 Historical Romance author and an internationally bestselling, award-winning, multi-published author of Scottish Historical, light Paranormal, and Contemporary romance. She has been featured on USAToday’s Happy Ever After romance blog, Savvy Authors, Romance University, and more.
Her books have won numerous honors, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, The Reader’s Crown finalist, Historical Romance finalist and Honorable Mention in InD’Tale Magazine’s prestigious RONE Award, Crowned Heart, and NightOwl Reviews Top Pick.
A life-long student and reader, she has been a stained glass artist and instructor, a foreign language teacher, a computer scientist, an analyst, a manager and an executive. She has visited five continents and can get by in several languages. She loves scouting new settings for books, and thinks being an author is the best job she’s ever had.
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