Authors: Willa Blair
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy, #spicy, #highlander
|Tags:||Romance, Fantasy, spicy, highlander|
He needs her for his clan. He wants her for himself. Can he have both?
Toran Lathan never expected to become Laird, and never expected to meet a woman like Aileanna Shaw. Her healing ability is just what his people need, but Toran cannot resist her beauty. Yet will loving him destroy her ability to heal?
Aileanna Shaw has a healing touch--and a special talent she must keep secret. Stolen from her home by a marauding army, she's kidnapped again by the Highland Laird she heals. Is she a prize of war, or the prize of his heart?
While Toran battles the invading lowland army, he also battles his desire for Aileanna. And Aileanna must decide if she can trust her secrets to this fierce warrior who needs her talent, but wants her love.
Satin Sheets Romance Review of "Highland Healer" by Willa Blair - Strong secondary characters, including a mentor, a maternal healer, and Toran's jealous former lover, Coira, and intense lines such as:'"What should I do with so beautiful, so valuable, a prize?" he murmured, almost to himself. His deep blue gaze ensnared Aileana as completely as his hands.' make this a rich, enjoyable read. Easily 4 satin pillows. (Really liked it! Will share with friends.)
Despite his threats a few moments before, she had sensed no real animosity in him. She'd been treated well since arriving at the Aerie. Her dream of a home, with people who cared about her, perhaps a family of her own, rose unbidden to her mind, and with it came a familiar lump in her throat. She was tired, she thought, to let that longing overwhelm her now. She folded her arms under her breasts and kept her eyes on the flames. She heard Toran move from the door to stand behind her. She tensed as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He turned her gently, but irresistibly, to face him.
"What should I do with so beautiful, so valuable, a prize?" he murmured, almost to himself.
His deep blue gaze ensnared Aileana as completely as his hands. She knew she should be outraged at being called a prize. He'd done it before, on the way here. Did he truly see her that way? She refused to be chattel any longer, she told herself, and would not allow him to treat her so. But she found she could not summon her ire. One of his hands left her shoulder and he lightly touched her cheek, then slowly slid his fingers down her throat to her collarbone. There, he hesitated, and Aileana held her breath until he moved the hand back to her shoulder.
His simple touch sent shivers dancing and nearly undid her.
Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.
COPYRIGHT © 2013 by Linda Williams
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Contact Information: [email protected]
Cover Art by
Tina Lynn Stout
The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
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First Faery Rose Edition, 2013
Print ISBN 978-1-61217-678-9
Digital ISBN 978-1-61217-679-6
Published in the United States of America
) of the 2011 Marlene,
“A captivating hero and heroine and a deft plot make this a must-read historical romance.”
“Lose yourself in this lush, romantic adventure by a new and gifted author.”
~Kathryn Johnson, author of the award-winning
The Gentleman Poet
“Start reading and the rest of your day is shot. Definitely a winner!”
“A unique story with just the right mix of romance and action—a truly enjoyable historical.”
“Being of Scottish descent, I greatly enjoyed the graceful interweaving of Scottish history and sense of place with the heartwarming love story.”
To Ruth Glick (Rebecca York) and the rest of her awe-inspiring critique group: Chassie West,
Toby Devens, Elizabeth Ashtree,
Kathryn Johnson (Mary Hart Perry),
Nancy Baggett, Cronshi Englander,
Binnie Syril Braunstein, Connie Hay,
and Joyce Braga.
You've freely shared your wisdom, experience and humor. Thanks for your inspiration, encouragement, and occasional kick in the pants when I needed it!
And to Eileen Buckholz, who opened the door
all those years ago and dared me to walk through it.
And especially to my heroic husband.
Though he dedicated his life to his country,
he gave his heart to me.
Through all the years we’ve been together,
he has believed in my talent and supported my dream.
Most of all, this book is for you.
To misquote John Donne, no book is an island. Hours of research and soul searching by the author go into every one, along with ideas, techniques, and critique from others. This book is no exception.
The list of people I need to thank, in addition to the awe-inspiring authors mentioned in the dedication, includes the members of the Washington Romance Writers, the RWA Online, and the San Antonio Romance Authors chapters of RWA for inspiration, classes, speakers, and support.
I especially want to thank my fabulous TWRP Editor, Sarah Hansen, and my Beta reader, Dr. Lisa Benton-Short. You both saved me from myself throughout this book with your insights and eye for detail.
More thanks are due to my local color and dialect consultant, Lisa’s husband, Dr. John Rennie Short. Any mistakes are entirely mine. Thanks, too, to the maternal member of the family, Bonnie Benton, who read the book after Lisa and has cheered me on ever since.
And finally, thanks to Tina Lynn Stout for cover art that blew me away. She listened to what I wanted, then gave me even more than I dared hope for.
Scottish Highlands, 1516
They brought the man into the tent on a makeshift stretcher, bound and unconscious. A hunting plaid of muted earth tones draped over his broad chest and across one muscular shoulder, where it fastened to his tunic with a simple brass pin. Quartz crystals decorated the open ends of a braided gold torc at his throat. That fact alone, that jewelry remained on his person, told Aileana that he was being accorded special treatment, not robbed like the common soldiers fallen on the field of battle. He would be a warrior, probably a laird, of the clan that Colbridge fought today.
She nodded for the stretcher bearers, two of Colbridge’s strongest men, to put their burden down on the long table she used for her surgery. As her assistant Ranald limped in behind them, she saw guards standing just outside the tent’s entrance and wondered how strenuously her new patient had objected to his captivity.
Ranald stood by the entry but his gaze stayed on the man on the table until the stretcher bearers left. “He’s a chief.”
Those few words explained both the man’s presence here and his appearance. A valuable prize indeed, deliberately captured rather than killed. No small feat in the heat of hand-to-hand combat where killing came easy. Capture was not. Impressed, Aileana bent to determine the extent of his injuries.
“Make sure he lives,” Ranald cautioned. “Colbridge brought this one to us during the battle.”
Aileana straightened up and frowned in surprise toward the entry, but Ranald had already left her alone with her patient. She turned her attention back to the man on her table. He was another victim of Colbridge’s ambitions. Like her. And like her, one with no chance of escape.
His soft linen tunic and leather breeches were of better quality than she’d seen on the other captives. Blood matted his shoulder-length dark hair and streaked both the side of his face and one strong arm revealed by a torn sleeve. She needed to remove the tunic and the torc around his neck to be certain his wounds were clean. But she did not want to turn him yet and possibly worsen other hurts she could not yet see. The strap that secured a sword’s sheath lay buckled across his chest. The weapon itself was missing. Aileana supposed that one of Colbridge’s men had claimed it, or even Colbridge himself.
Carefully, she undid that clasp and the one at his belt, and let the heavy leather and the end of the plaid fall aside to dangle off of the table out of the way. Next went the simple pin at his shoulder. Only then did she notice the pattern of his plaid. It appeared similar to the one most of the rest of the captives wore, but not exactly the same. She did not know enough about Highland clans to know what that meant. She laid it aside. With regret, she took her looted French scissors Colbridge had given her from the pocket of her dress and began cutting the tunic from the man’s upper body.
After each snip of the blades, she lightly touched each area she revealed and let an awareness form in her mind and within her body, focusing on the soundness of each part beneath his summer-bronzed skin and firm flesh. She laid one palm against his chest, feeling the strength of the heart that beat within, the rise and fall of his breathing. She slid her hand down his ribs onto his belly. Strong muscles there, and no harm done. She moved to his arm next, relieved to find the cut moderate. His arm would be sore from a grazing blow by the flat of a blade that had left a gash, and be lucky to be no worse for the battle. It took little of her Gift to mend such a shallow wound. The Healing tingled as her fingers traced the edges of the cut. He would recover to fight again if the head wound had not addled his brain—and if Colbridge let him live.
She moved to his head and took a deep breath, gathering her strength for what could be a very difficult mending. He had escaped death so far, but the blow to his head might have destroyed his mind. Or only part of it. Her fingers clenched. The empty ones were the worst. But the need was strong in her to repair and restore—to heal. She could not stop now any more than she could stop breathing.
She slowly placed her hands along both sides of his face, then drew them up over his forehead into his hair, listening. The force of will that she encountered nearly sent her reeling. Relieved, she gently cradled his head and slid her hands to the back of his neck. Other than a shallow cut at the back of his scalp from the blow that had knocked him out, she could sense no deeper bleeding that would threaten his life or his mind. She mended the broken skin with a few gentle touches, glad that he had taken no further harm. He would awaken soon, with a massive headache. She would soothe that away when he could speak to her and she confirmed that his mind was whole.
She stood back and for the first time really looked at the man. What she saw took her breath away. Strong of limb and clean-lined, he boasted the massive shoulders and arms of a warrior. Despite the bindings that held them together palm to palm, she could see that his hands were large and calloused, probably from wielding one of the heavy longswords—claymores they called them here—as well as other hard work. Fine, dark hair swirled lightly across his heavily muscled chest and trailed down his flat belly to disappear beneath the leather trews that covered narrow hips and muscular thighs. A strong pulse beat in the brown column of his throat. And his face, under the blood and grime of battle, boasted even features: the nose unbroken, lips full, and eyelashes long and dark where they rested on high cheekbones.