Title: WAITING FOR THE LAIRD
Author: Willa Blair
Genre: Contemporary Light Paranormal
Widow Lara MacLaren hungers for the hunky architect she hires to restore her derelict Scottish manor, but is she ready for a relationship...and is Ian ready for her twins?
Ian Paterson is eager to awaken Lara's passionate side. Yet, if he reveals his ancestral claim to her estate, he risks losing her and his job. His clan’s history, lost over the years, may be hidden in the walls—along with a ghost waiting for the laird's return.
When they uncover a room full of Jacobite treasure, proof of his ancestry, Ian realizes he’s out of time. If the ghost is real, it could expose his secret and destroy his romance with Lara. Ian must convince her she and her twins are the future he truly wants.
“If I don’t see some sunshine soon, I’m going to pack up the twins and move back to California!” Lara MacLaren gazed out the window of the tea shop, then back at her friend Becky, who frowned at her as if she’d lost her mind. Well, maybe she had. The past year had been rough. Now the days were noticeably shorter, and what little sun there should have been was hiding behind thick clouds, scuttling the emotional progress she’d made over the summer. God, she missed California sunshine.
“Why on earth would you want to do that?” Becky demanded before taking a tiny bite of her oatcake and venison entrée, then patted her mouth with her napkin. “Sunshine is so ordinary there. Ours is rare and beautiful. Surely you must prefer our sort.”
Lara snorted at her put-on aristocratic English accent. Becky did part-time clerical work at the estate agent who handled the purchase of Cairn Dubh for Lara and her husband, Angus. Her sense of humor had appealed to Lara, and the two had become occasional lunch and shopping-expedition buddies in the months before Angus’s passing.
Since then, Lara had been too exhausted by grief and focused on her nine-year-old twins’ needs to spend much time with her friend, though Becky had tried several times to get her out. A few days ago, she’d invited Lara to meet on Friday for lunch in the village, to get away from the renovation mess at Cairn Dubh. Lara’s improving appetite had convinced her to accept. The timing was perfect since workmen were breaking through a stone wall today into the old north wing. She was happy to get away from the noise and dust for a few hours.
Lara couldn’t spoil her first social occasion by spending the entire meal complaining about what had happened to her family. She wasn’t sure how to answer Becky’s question without whining, but she had to try.
“After Angus’s funeral, I thought about staying in California,” she admitted, determined to make light of it. “Even talked to my parents about moving in with them for a while.” She rolled her eyes. “Now there was a truly bad idea…”
“No doubt,” Becky answered in typical droll Scottish fashion.
Holding up a hand, Lara continued, “In my defense, I worried that the unfinished parts of the house, which was most of it back then, weren’t safe for Amy and Alexander. And Scotland is a very long way from my family and friends.”
“So what brought ye back? I’ve always wondered. You lived here only, what, six months, before…”
“Angus died.” Lara shrugged off the hollow in her belly those two words always brought on. “Yes, I can say it.” She glanced at the ring on her left hand and sighed. “He died really young. Of a stroke, of all things. In California, on a business trip.” She pursed her lips, then added, “Being able to hold his service there was convenient for our families, certainly.” She managed not to roll her eyes. “I’m not sure he would have chosen to be buried there once he moved us here, but there he remains.” She crossed her arms, kicking herself for opening the door to this conversation. She was fidgeting, but Becky seemed not to notice.
“But not you and the twins,” her friend prompted.
Though reluctant, Lara supposed now was as good a time as any to get some of the last year off her chest. Becky’s gaze was warm, concerned and comforting, as if she really wanted to know. Lara had avoided sharing the details for months, and Becky had to be curious.
“I suppose the reason is that I’d come to love the house, the area, and,” she paused and smiled at Becky, “the people. I’m not sure how it happened, but Angus’s vision became mine, too. I couldn’t bear to leave any part of Cairn Dubh in ruins. Every time I considered staying in California, something drew me back to Scotland and to making Angus’s dream come true.” She shook her head and glanced out the window at the clouds. “It doesn’t make sense, I know.” It would make even less sense to Becky if she knew how rocky the start of their marriage had been. Or perhaps not, given what they’d overcome.
Becky reached across the small table and squeezed her hand, pulling Lara’s gaze back to her.
“I’m glad you chose to stay,” she said with a lift to her lips. Her smile widened as she let go of Lara’s hand and leaned back. “It took you some time, but you’ve found a good man to finish the restoration. The work is well underway. By spring, it should be done, and everything will look brighter.” Becky cast a narrow glance at the lowering sky outside. “I can’t wait for that, either.”
Lara thought back over the past year while she traced circles on the white tablecloth. Despite her best intentions, she’d found everything about the project too heavy a weight to carry alone. Being the general contractor was Angus’s area of expertise, not hers. Once she accepted she had too much to learn to be effective, she knew what she had to do. In early June, she had finally gone through the paperwork Angus accumulated during his search for a general contractor, though he’d eventually decided to run the renovation himself.
“Did you know Ian has almost no online presence?” Before she’d decided on architect Ian Paterson, she’d searched the web for information about the contractors Angus had considered, to round out what she learned in Angus’s files. “He’s got a business website with lots of information about past restorations. Before and after photos and glowing reviews from previous clients, but not much about him, other than what he needs to establish his qualifications.”
Elsewhere online, she found the same bare-bones education and work history he’d provided on the resume in Angus’s files, and little else. Ian did not have a social media presence—not that she could find. “I felt like a stalker and hated prying…”
“It was necessary. Best you know who you’re dealing with,” Becky reassured her.
“Well, clearly, the man spends very little time online. Does he live in this century, or is he lost in the past with the buildings he restores?”
Becky laughed at that.
Lara couldn’t help but join in, then she sobered. “He won’t say much about himself, even now. But he won me over when he said he could imagine how hard it must be for me and the twins to live with Angus’s dream unfinished.”
“Ach, lass…that sounds just like him.”
Though she was committed—and Ian had a contract—Lara was glad to hear her intuition about him confirmed. He might have been the only architect to call her back and meet with her, but something about him appealed to her, so she’d hired him on the spot. He’d spent the past four months completing the last two rooms Angus started in the main part of the house and its upstairs guest rooms. He’d also finished the south wing, where the family bedrooms were, which had been built shortly after the main house. He took the work seriously and made sure the craftsmen he hired did, too. “I believe I made a good decision, yes.” Lara finished her tea and set the cup aside. “With his help, I’m making progress on what Angus and I started together…” Her throat closed suddenly, and she couldn’t go on.
Becky nodded in sympathy and finished the sentence for her. “…To make a home out of an old ruin.”
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
Among all the books I’ve written, WAITING FOR THE LAIRD is one of my favorites. Since Halloween is also one of my favorite holidays, I enjoy re-reading it during this time of year. With a Scottish setting, slow-burn romance, precocious twins, and a ghost, it’s a heart-warming and fun read.
“A perfect blend of sweet romance, mystery and the paranormal, that will win your heart! With Halloween approaching, what could be more perfect?”
"About 3:00am I finally had to force myself to stop and get some sleep…yes, it was that good.”
“Realistic characters, sweeping romance and a paranormal mystery make this a must-read!”
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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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