Awaken the Highland Warriorby Anita Clenney
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!
"Engrossing and captivating. A true page-turner." -Mary Wine, acclaimed author of Highland Heat
A man from another time...
Faelan is from an ancient clan of Scottish Highland warriors, charged with shielding humanity from demonic forces. Betrayed and locked/strong>/em>/strong>/em>/em>… See more details below
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller!
"Engrossing and captivating. A true page-turner." -Mary Wine, acclaimed author of Highland Heat
A man from another time...
Faelan is from an ancient clan of Scottish Highland warriors, charged with shielding humanity from demonic forces. Betrayed and locked in a time vault, he has been sleeping for nearly two centuries when spunky historian Bree Kirkland inadvertently wakes him. She's more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him, and if he's not careful, she'll uncover the secrets his clan has bled and died to protect...
Could be the treasure she's been seeking all her life...
When Bree inherits an old treasure map, she discovers a warrior buried in her backyard. But the warrior isn't dead. Bree shocks Faelan with her modern dress and her boldness, and he infuriates Bree every time he tries to protect her.
With demons suddenly on the move, Bree discovers that Faelan's duty as protector is in his blood, and that her part in this fight was destined before she was born. But nothing is ever what it seems...
"An exciting, riveting read! Nothing's sexier than a timetraveling Highland warrior except one with the mission to save the world and the contemporary, courageous woman who lights his fire! A page-turner, I couldn't put the book down!" -Terry Spear, author of Heart of the Wolf, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
"Clenney's debut, beginning a new paranormal series, showcases her ability to create an alternative modern world peopled with interesting, exciting, and compelling characters." - Booklist
Between the brogue and the body, these warriors are to die for!
Oh My Gosh, I want more. You get a series full of action, good vs. evil scenarios and romance. Reviewer Top Pick! 5 Stars
A riveting story full of mystery, demons and hot Scottish Highland Warriors!
The start of a very exciting new series.
Anita Clenney has written a book that is of the same caliber as Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series.
Awakening the Highland Warrior brought back memories of Karen Marie Monig's Highlander series.
Debut time-travel romance author Anita Clenney introduces readers to a demon-fighting Scotland clan that looks good in their kilts and fights even better.
Plenty of intrigue to keep the pages turning... a rewarding story
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- 4.28(w) x 6.92(h) x 1.15(d)
Read an Excerpt
Awaken The Highland Warrior
By Anita Clenney
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Anita Clenney
All rights reserved.
Present Day ...
Bree's fingers tightened around the metal disk as she ran through the graveyard, zigzagging past leaning headstones. Her lantern swayed, throwing shadows on the crypt looming before her, its stone walls the color of bones. Thick vines crept over it, sealing in cracks left by time, while gnarled branches from the twisted oak hovered like outstretched arms. Protecting ... or threatening?
An owl screeched overhead as Bree scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn't fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood roared past her ears, like the sound of all the angels' wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon's Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she'd first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she'd pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.
A voice brushed her ear. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed ... blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She'd settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.
She heaved open the chest.
Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.
Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her. She fell, smashing her face against the stone floor, and then lurched to her feet. He towered over her, blocking her escape, so close she could see his pulse throbbing with life, even though he'd just climbed out of a tomb.
"Where's Druan?" His voice was a growl, body taut, like a lion ready to pounce.
Bree stumbled backwards, but he followed, his eyes as hard and cold as the dagger at her throat. He scanned the shadows as if he expected a horde of demons to appear, before his fierce gaze settled on her again.
A thousand disjointed thoughts tumbled in her head as the blade pressed harder. "Who are you? How did you get here? Are you a ghost?" She wasn't sure she believed in ghosts, but she also didn't believe in dead men rising from their graves, and this one was wearing a kilt.
"A ghost?" Dark brows drew into a flat line. He lowered the dagger, opened his other hand, and stared at it. "No." He didn't sound sure.
She wasn't, either. He looked too muscular for a spirit, but there was no doubt she was talking to a man who should be dead. And he was standing between her and the door.
The blade flashed, and Bree screamed. A trickle of red appeared on his palm. She pushed past him, but he caught her arm, spinning her around. A jolt shocked her, and they both flinched. His blood was warm and sticky against her skin. She decided she'd die fighting.
Pulling free, she grabbed the shovel from the floor and swung it at his head. He stopped it with one hand, tossed the shovel deep into the crypt, and shoved her against the wall. She flailed with her fists and then lifted her knee. He pinned it between his thighs. She was trapped. She sagged against him, waiting for the blade to plunge, but the only thing she felt was a hard body in damp clothes holding her still.
"Impossible," he muttered, releasing her. He stepped back, the dagger still red with his blood. "Who are you?"
"I'm Bree. Who are you? Why did you do that?" she asked, staring at his hand.
"To be sure." He wiped the blade on his kilt and slid it into a sheath at his side. "Where's Druan?" he demanded.
"I don't know anyone named Druan," she said, wincing as she touched her stinging face. At least he'd put the dagger away.
He frowned and leaned closer, studying her cheek. She stood, not breathing, as warm, calloused fingers brushed her face and dark eyes reflected the lantern's golden glow.
"It can't be." He stared at his hand as if it had betrayed him. "You fell hard," he said, his voice softer, with an accent she couldn't place. "Are you okay?"
No, she wasn't okay. There was a dead man talking to her. And he looked familiar. "You tried to kill me."
Sorry he'd tried, or sorry he'd failed?
"Where am I?" he asked, muddy fingers grazing the crypt wall.
"Where? New York, near Albany ..." She gulped. "Earth."
"How did I get here?"
"New York, the crypt, or earth?"
"How did I get in a crypt?" he asked quietly, and she knew the question wasn't intended for her. A better one would be how he'd gotten out—alive. She looked at the disk, still in the lock. Locks weren't made just to keep things out. They also kept things in. Her stomach took a hard dive. A ghost would be one thing, but ghosts didn't bleed.
He spun back toward the burial vault. "What year is this?"
She told him, watching as the color drained from his face.
"No." He rubbed his hands across his forehead, leaving a streak of blood. "A hundred and fifty years." The words were barely a whisper. Clasping his chest, he moved toward the open door of the crypt. He didn't move like a normal man; he flowed, like water over rocks in a stream. As if each muscle moved in perfect harmony with the others.
"It's still here," he said, staring into the night.
"What's still here?" Before the question left her mouth, an image of charred earth, smoking and desolate, reared up like a serpent from a forgotten dream. One of her premonitions? She was still reeling when he walked back to where she stood.
"How did you find me?" he asked, his voice gruff again.
For someone who'd just been freed, he wasn't very gracious. "I followed the map. Who are you? How did you get inside that chest?"
"Chest?" He looked at the burial vault. "I can't remember," he said, licking his lower lip.
He was lying. Bree knew it as surely as she knew she wasn't dreaming and he wasn't dead. This man wasn't a ghost. He was a thief. He'd probably stolen her treasure when she wasn't watching. He couldn't have locked himself inside, which meant someone had left him for dead. An accomplice? Or was it a joke? He was wearing a kilt.
"Where's my treasure?" she demanded. She'd searched too long to let anyone steal it.
He swayed and grabbed the wall.
"The time vault ... I need to lie down."
Time vault? Did he mean the burial vault? "Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?" Thief or not, she couldn't refuse him help if he was injured.
"No." He grabbed her arm, and she felt the strength held in check, although he looked ready to drop. "You can't tell anyone about me."
Was he hiding from the person who had locked him in the chest? She'd seen a man in the woods several days ago and a shadow in the graveyard earlier tonight. Then there was the shriek last night that made her skin feel like it had turned inside out.
He leaned his head against the stone. "Need rest."
Rest? Where? If she called the police she'd have to tell them about her treasure, and she couldn't take him inside. He didn't look capable of walking, much less hurting anyone, but that dagger proved he was dangerous.
The man's eyes closed and his face paled. She'd made countless bad judgment calls in her life, and this might be the worst, but she couldn't let him pass out here, and she wasn't about to lose her treasure. The thief must know where it was hidden or who'd taken it.
"Let's get you inside the house." It wouldn't be the first time she'd taken a risk. Besides, her friend Jared should be back from his trip soon. He could give her a hand. Bree retrieved the lantern and carried it back to where the man waited. He raised his head, giving her the first grateful look since she'd freed him. "Do you need help?"
He nodded stiffly, his expression grim.
She moved closer, and he dropped an arm over her shoulders, leaning his body into hers. He smelled like dirt and leather and rain. A feeling settled in her chest, like recognition, and she wondered if she was dreaming. She put her arm around his waist. Solid. Real. Wet? How had he gotten wet? It hadn't rained in weeks.
"Wait," he whispered. "The time vault. I have to cover it ... can't leave the key."
Why? Questions bombarded her, but she left him leaning against the wall and approached the burial vault. Bree reached for the lid, and her breath caught when she saw the inside of the chest. It was green, like the stones on the outside, but there was no time to explore. She'd have to come back later. She closed the lid and pulled the disk from the lock. Nausea rose in her throat as the metal grew hot in her hand. She wanted to hide the disk, bury it where it would never be found.
After the queasiness subsided, she struggled with the stone cover, then he was there, pulling with her. The lid scraped as it dropped into place. If this was his weakened state, she couldn't imagine him full strength. She was crazy to consider taking him inside, but if he was going to kill her, he would've already done it when he had the dagger against her jugular vein. He not only hadn't hurt her, he'd even seemed concerned about her fall. Or was she making excuses because the mystery of a lifetime stretched before her, beckoning like the yellow brick road?
He leaned against the vault, and a trickle of water dripped from his hair onto his face. There was a knot on the back of his head. "How did you get hurt?" she asked.
"I don't remember."
The knot looked big enough to cause amnesia. Maybe he wasn't lying.
He held out his hand. "Give me the key."
"The key?" She looked at the antique disk that had hung on her great-great-grandmother's mantel for generations. "It's mine."
She didn't know why he wanted it, but judging from the pallor of his face, if they didn't get inside soon, she'd have to drag him or call for help. She could get her disk back after he fell asleep. He put it in the worn, leather pouch hanging over his groin, a sporran. She'd never seen a real man wear one, but then again, she'd never seen a real man in a kilt.
He slipped his arm around her shoulders again, and they staggered into the still September night. No frogs croaked or crickets chirped. No owl's eerie call. A stab of unease prickled her spine at the lack of sound. They were both panting by the time they made it to her back porch. Having him pressed to her side, body to body, was doing strange things to her senses, and his scent made her long for something she didn't understand. She opened the back door, and they moved into the kitchen. "Do you want something to eat? Water?"
"No. Lie down." He slumped lower, his chin bumping the top of her head.
Bree grabbed the arm he'd slung around her shoulders to keep him from sliding to the floor and debated where to put him. The house had eight bedrooms, but only one assembled bed and a single set of sheets. She hadn't replaced the ones she'd tossed out when she moved in. Living in a dead person's house hadn't bothered her, nor had sleeping in a dead person's bed. Sleeping on a dead person's sheets — even Grandma Emily's — that, Bree couldn't handle.
And here she was with a man she'd pulled out of a crypt draped around her like a shawl. Her mother was right, Bree had missed normal by light years.
She guided him to her bedroom, thankful it was on the first floor and that her mother lived half a dozen states away. She nudged on the light switch with her nose, dragged him across her hand-loomed rug, and dropped him onto the bed. "What's your name?"
"Faelan," he said and fell backwards like a downed tree.
Faelan? Unusual name. Bree shook his arm. "What happened to the treasure in the chest?"
His eyelids fluttered. "Not ... treasure ... chest."
"Not a treasure chest? What do you mean?" If the box wasn't a treasure chest and it wasn't a casket, what was it?CHAPTER 2
Far across the ocean, a woman woke, breathless and sweating. It wasn't one of those annoying, erotic, Duncan dreams. She pushed aside the long strands of red hair plastered to her forehead and lay still in the darkness, seeking the source of her dread. Her hand touched the metal growing warm at her neck, and she allowed her mind to drift, searching for somewhere to anchor. Blurred pictures flashed in her head, a dark-haired woman and a handsome man, then four more.
A round object came into focus, and she bolted upright, her nails digging into the bed.
For more than a century they'd searched for it, bled for it. Died for it.
The lost key.
* * *
"What do you mean it's not a treasure chest?" Bree had a treasure map and her great-great-grandmother Isabel's journal to prove it. She shook Faelan's shoulder and lightly slapped his face. He didn't move. Was he dead? She checked his heartbeat. It was a little fast, and his skin felt too warm. Should she take him to the hospital? Awkwardly she searched the sporran, but he had no wallet, no ID, only her disk, a strip of leather, and a smooth white stone. Who was he?
She replaced the items and studied him. He lay crossways on her bed, arms at his sides. A red and black kilt was belted at his waist, where the dagger still hung. His shirt was white, or had been at one time. It was smeared with mud, as were the beige socks—kilt hose-folded below his knees. She had to admit the costume looked authentic, except for the boots. They looked like something from the Civil War. Her specialty.
But it wasn't his clothing that drew her. It was his face, strong jaw, straight nose, dark hair hanging to his shoulders, and most puzzling, his eyes. They had been uncannily familiar, but uncanny was her norm. Even as a child, when other girls were talking about schoolboys and planning sleepovers, she'd been dreaming of ... whatever it was. She couldn't put a name to it, although she often felt it had a face. A face! The painting.
Excerpted from Awaken The Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney. Copyright © 2011 Anita Clenney. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Anita Clenney writes paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Before giving herself over to the writing bug, she worked in a pickle factory, a preschool, booked shows for Aztec Fire Dancers, been a secretary, executive assistant, and a Realtor. She lives with her husband and two children in suburban Virginia.
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