Title: HIGHLAND PRODIGY (Highland Talents Heritage Book 1)
Author: Willa Blair
Genre: Scottish Paranormal Historical Romance
Jamie Lathan is a formidable warrior, yet his life depends not only on his legendary prowess with a sword, but on keeping a dangerous secret. Like his mother, Jamie wields the power of healing magic. From childhood, he knew that those skills, often feared in a woman, would be condemned outright in a man. Discovery could mean imprisonment or death, but Jamie soon learns that denying his compulsion to heal is to deny the very core of himself.
Aftyn Keith desperately tries to fill the role of Healer after her mother dies unexpectedly. Still an apprentice, ill-prepared and hampered by her illegitimate birth, Aftyn knows that her best may not be enough to keep her place as a useful member of the clan. When a handsome Lathan warrior with healing skills far beyond her ken arrives and succeeds in saving his gravely injured kinsman, she begs him to teach her.
Jamie risks everything in choosing to trust Aftyn. But when she unwittingly betrays him, Aftyn is faced with a decision that may gain Jamie's freedom, but cost her the only home that she has ever known. In the face of her growing feelings for Jamie, she knows that either decision will leave her heart broken beyond any Healer's mending.
Could Jamie become a male healer? Or should Aileanna forget such a fanciful notion and give her four-year-old son over to Toran when he came of age, to train as a warrior and to foster away from the Lathan clan? Wee Jamie would never be the healer she was and that Lianna and Eilidh could be, though she did not expect to see signs of her ability in her daughters for years, not until they shed the first blood of womanhood. But their ever-curious brother Jamie could still do good in the world. There were men enough to fight and kill. Perhaps this son could help balance against them.
She showed him a few more flowers and told him what they were called and how she used them, surprised when he identified another on his own. If he recalled her lesson of today, she’d think seriously about how best to train a lad in a skill mostly held by women. Other than her mother, Aileanna had yet to meet another with her talent, but village women passed healing wisdom from mother to daughter, as her own mother had done.
She knew better than most that all fighting forces needed healers during and after a battle. It was why she’d been kidnapped from her village and carried along with the lowlander army until Toran rescued her, defeated the invaders, and made her his bride. Aye, Jamie must learn to fight, but he could also learn to care for the wounded, as much as he could without her talent. She’d let wee Jamie’s curiosity and interest guide her decision. Unlike her eldest son, Drummond, Toran’s heir, wee Jamie had years yet before his future would be a set path before him. Indeed, she realized, he could train as a warrior and a healer, if he wished. That decided, she looked up and realized he’d wandered away from her, chasing butterflies again.
“Come, Jamie,” she called. “’Tis time to make the climb and find yer supper.”
Instead of moving toward her, he turned to face her and held out a hand. “Mama, come look.”
“What have ye found, Jamie?” She hurried toward him, not so much concerned as curious. Save for a bee sting, little could harm him in this glen.
When she reached him, she was not at all surprised to see a common meadow brown butterfly resting in his open palm. “’Tis pretty, laddie,” she told him.
He shook his head, his expression going stubborn. “’Tis no’. ‘Tis hurt, like the one ye found the last time we came here.”
“Hurt?” She hadn’t noticed until he mentioned it. “Let me see if there is aught I can do.”
He pulled his hand back with a frown. “Nay. I watched ye. I can do it, too.”
Aileanna gave him a sympathetic smile. “Nay, Jamie, I dinna think ye can do what I did for the wee thing. See?” She traced a finger along one wing. “’Tis broken, right there. I’ll mend it.” One wing was indeed folded in half, the clean break meaning the beauty would never fly again. A death sentence, certainly.
“Nay, Momma. I ken what is wrong. I’m old enough. I will do it.” He touched the wing with one finger.
“Gently, lad,” she murmured, her fists clenched in her skirts to control her impulse to take the butterfly from him before he did it more harm. He wouldn’t mean to, but delicacy was usually beyond a child so young. Surely once he looked more closely at the wing, he’d give it to her.
She watched with pride the concentration on his face as he softly unfolded the wing, then cradled the break between his thumb and forefinger. His eyes closed and his lips compressed.
“Dinna crush it,” she cautioned.
After another second, time enough for her to wonder if the butterfly objected to its injury being handled by her child, no matter how carefully, Jamie opened his eyes, lifted his fingers away from the butterfly’s wing and held it up on his palm.
Aileanna’s mouth fell open as the butterfly shook out its newly healed wing and took to the air, joining the fluttering mass circling near her son. How could he have her talent? A lad? And at such a young age? She took a deep breath, to calm her suddenly racing pulse.
“I did see! ’Tis very good, Jamie.” She bent and hugged him to her, whispering, “That butterfly owes ye its life,” then released him as he squirmed away.
She lifted a hand to her pounding chest as he turned to watch the creature he’d helped, certain he knew exactly which one it was. Her heart nearly burst from her, whether in shock or delight, she couldn’t yet decide. Likely both. She would have much to do to teach her son as she’d been taught, to bear the burden of healing as she did, but even more, to keep him safe in a world that distrusted anyone with her talent. Some might call her a witch, though none among the Lathan clan or their allies would do so. What would strangers think of a lad who could do what she did?
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November is a time to be thankful. What are you most thankful for this year?
I cannot narrow my gratitude down to one thing! My list has to start with my incredible, supportive, brilliant husband, of course! Then, in no particular order, and leaving out so much, I am thankful for our Wee Beasties, two calico kittens we adopted last year and who still make me smile every day. I’m thankful for my new publisher for supporting me and giving me such a wonderful boost. I’m thankful I’ve had new ideas and new energy to create a new book and a new series. And as always, I’m thankful for my readers.
Why is your featured book worth snuggling up to?
HIGHLAND HEALER, the first book in my Highland Talents series has always been a fan favorite. In my new series, Highland Talents Heritage, readers will meet each of the Highland Healer’s children. HIGHLAND PRODIGY introduces Jamie Lathan, an unexpected prodigy, who grows up torn between two dangerous paths: to forge a future as a formidable warrior or as a healer gifted with talents like his mother’s. Poorly trained, Aftyn Keith’s place in her clan is in jeopardy. Only when she uncovers Jamie’s secret talent does she finally understand what he risks for her. Can they nourish their fragile feelings for each other and build a future together? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
One lucky reader will win a $75 Amazon gift card.
Open internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Canada account to win.
Runs November 1 – 30
Drawing will be held on December 1.
Willa Blair is an award-wining Amazon and Barnes & Noble #1 bestselling author of Scottish historical, light paranormal and contemporary romance filled with men in kilts, psi talents, and plenty of spice.
Her books have won numerous accolades, including the Marlene, the Merritt, National Readers’ Choice Award Finalist, Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist, Reader’s Crown finalist, InD’Tale Magazine’s RONE Award Honorable Mention, and NightOwl Reviews Top Picks.
She loves scouting new settings for books, and thinks being an author is the best job she’s ever had.
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