The Highlander’s Christmas Quest by @AnnaCampbelloz is a Christmas and Holiday Book Festival Pick
Title: The Highlander’s Christmas Quest: The Lairds Most Likely Book 5
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
She’s found the man for her, but he has no plans to stay on her island. Perhaps it’s time to try a little sabotage!
Scotland. 1725. The moment she sees handsome Dougal Drummond, Kirsty Macbain tumbles headlong into love. A chance storm a few days before Christmas has blown the gallant Highlander off-course to her father’s isle of Askaval, but once he’s repaired his boat, Dougal is determined to continue on his way. His bright blue eyes are firmly fixed on valiant deeds and a distant horizon. What does he care for a smart-mouthed, independent lassie who forms no part of his plans for his future?
Kirsty is convinced that if only she can keep Dougal on Askaval, he’ll see how perfect they are together. With his boat out of action, he’s trapped in her company. Some surreptitious midnight destruction with a drill and a hammer might help true love to win out. On the other hand, if Dougal discovers what she’s been up to, there will be the devil to pay.
Will this madcap Christmas deliver Kirsty’s heart’s desire – or will her scheming see Dougal sailing away to a life without her?
By the time Nevis clattered to a halt on the stone quay, the little boat was tied securely to a heavy iron ring set into the wall near the steps leading down to the water. The style of the craft was unfamiliar, built long and low with pointed prow and stern so it was narrow at the ends and wider in the middle. Again, Kirsty wondered that the stranger had come through the storm alive in such a seemingly frail vessel.
From where she sat on her horse, Kirsty studied the new arrival. He had his back to her and was facing toward the stern as he stowed the oars. His red hair lay loose and wind-ruffled across his broad shoulders. A stained and ragged white shirt, twin to the one nailed to the mast, clung to his powerful back. Brown leather breeches hugged slim hips and long legs. The black boots he wore were scarred and marked, but of good quality.
She slid down from the saddle and stood on the edge of the quay above him. "Are ye hurt?"
The man straightened and turned to face her, lifting his head so he could meet her concerned gaze. He seemed to have no trouble keeping his balance on the moving boat. The seas remained so rough that even in this usually tranquil harbor, choppy waves moved the craft up and down.
She found herself transfixed by a pair of dark blue eyes, heavy with weariness but still containing a hint of a smile in their depths. And just like that, swift as a lightning strike, Kirsty fell in love.
"Och, a few scrapes and bruises only. It was a raw night, mistress. My wee boat is in a much sadder state than I am."
She hardly heard a word he said. Instead, she was too busy drinking in every detail of the newcomer's appearance. In all her nineteen years, she'd never seen anything to match this young man. His features were carved with a masterful hand. Noble forehead. Straight, aristocratic nose. A long, flexible mouth that, like his eyes, hinted at smiles. A square-cut jaw.
Dear Lord above, who was he? Whoever he was, he'd make Michelangelo weep. While visitors to Askaval might be few, she'd seen enough laddies to recognize that this one was a rare example indeed.
The deep blue eyes leveled on her as he tugged on a coat. They were the vivid burning color of the bluebells that turned the springtime woods around her father's house into heaven. Marked, expressive brows, a darker red than his spectacular hair, lowered in concern. "Mistress?"
Heat flooded Kirsty's cheeks. What the devil was wrong with her? She must be staring at him as if she was half-witted. The embarrassing truth was that she felt half-witted. Her heart pounded like an orchestra of drums, and she felt so sensitive to everything around her, it was as if she'd lost a layer of skin.
"I beg your pardon, sir." She cursed her betraying stutter. "We're unused to strangers here on Askaval."
"Askaval?" With a smooth grace that set her susceptible heart somersaulting, he jumped from the crippled boat to the steps leading up to where she stood. "Is that where I am?"
"Aye," she said, then all capacity for speech deserted her as he climbed up to stand in front of her.
She tilted her head. Then tilted it some more. By all the saints, he was a giant.
Kirsty was on the short side. Her father called her his wee squirrel. But compared to this young Hercules, she felt positively minuscule. Papa was a big man, over six feet, but this fiery-haired laddie would top the laird by another few inches.
Now they were on the same level, the man's shoulders appeared even more impressive. And those blue eyes were more extraordinary close up, bright with intelligence and vitality and warmth.
He looked like a hero from an old story. Jason or Theseus or Hector. He even spoke like a hero, in a voice as deep as distant thunder and as rich as new cream. No wonder a mere storm hadn't vanquished him.
"That's braw to ken, mistress." A crooked smile curved that miracle of a mouth, setting attractive creases around his eyes. "And just where on God's green earth is Askaval?"
She smiled back. Impossible to do anything else, really. By now, her giddy heart had stopped somersaulting. Instead it was performing an energetic jig, bouncing around like her father at the Christmas ceilidh after he'd had a dram or six. "We're south-west of Islay."
"I'm a good hundred miles off course, then." The muscle jerking in that lean cheek emphasized a cheekbone as hard and sharp as a clear note on a flute. "The wind has blown me south and west when I wanted to go north. I suppose I'm lucky that gale didnae carry me all the way to America."
Another rueful smile made that impossibly beautiful male face even more beautiful. Kirsty's stomach tightened with a pleasure in his presence so powerful, it hurt.
A mere puff of wind had decided her fate. The thought made her painfully alert to the fragility of her current happiness. If last night's gale had blown a few degrees further north or east, this masterpiece of creation could have ended up on some other fortunate maiden's shore. "Where were ye headed?"
A faraway look softened that brilliant blue gaze. While he might be standing only a few feet away, she had the strangest and most unwelcome feeling that his mind had moved to distant shores. He wasn't focused on Kirsty Macbain at all.
Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B07Z9MQ48D/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07Z9MQ48D/
Share a holiday family tradition:
Christmas in Australia means summer holidays so while we do a few traditional things that people in the Northern Hemisphere would recognize, we also like to wallow around in the pool, play beach cricket, and take a plunge into the waves of the Pacific Ocean. Bliss!
Why is your featured book perfect to get readers in the holiday mood:
Who doesn’t want to visit the Scottish Highlands for Christmas? Well, at any time of year, really! This is a fun and very romantic story about a girl who falls in love at first sight and a gallant Highlander who takes a little bit longer to work out what’s hit him.
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Runs December 1 – 31.
Drawing will be held on January 3, 2020.
ANNA CAMPBELL has written 11 multi-award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins and her work is published in 23 languages. She has also written 24 bestselling independently published romances. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories including Romantic Times Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice) and the Australian Romance Readers Association’s favorite historical romance (five times). Her books have three times been nominated for Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA Award and three times for Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year. Anna is currently engaged in writing the Lairds Most Likely series which starts with The Laird’s Willful Lass (2018). Anna lives on the beautiful east coast of Australia where she writes full-time.
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