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Rita Award-winning author Jeanette Baker has enthralled readers the world over with her thrilling tale of love, danger, and a passion that endures across the boundaries of time.
Kate Sutherland's arrival in the misty moors of her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands was supposed to cure her visions of danger, intrigue...and a sexy powerful Scottish border lord. Instead, she discovers that she's been living the tormented memories of Catriona ...
Rita Award-winning author Jeanette Baker has enthralled readers the world over with her thrilling tale of love, danger, and a passion that endures across the boundaries of time.
Kate Sutherland's arrival in the misty moors of her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands was supposed to cure her visions of danger, intrigue...and a sexy powerful Scottish border lord. Instead, she discovers that she's been living the tormented memories of Catriona Wells, a beautiful young woman of royal blood who lived five centuries before.
Shielding a dark secret from her past, Catriona was willing to do anything to save her young brother from the deadly politics of her royal family—even agree to an arranged marriage with the formidable Patrick MacKendrick. But would daring to love the hardened warrior who desired her so fiercely destroy her family... or finally allow her to heal?
Meanwhile, Kate is battling her own attraction to Niall MacCormack, an alluring Scottish historian. As the pull of history beckons, Kate has her own decision to make: choose the life and love of her present, or risk everything in Catriona's world of passion and peril.
"Catriona is an outstanding blend of past and present that makes for inspiring and irresistible reading." —RT Book Reviews
Award-winning author of fifteen novels, including the RITA Award winning Nell, Jeanette Baker has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as a forceful writer whose novels are "irresistible reading." Jeanette lives in California during the winter months where she teaches literature and writing, and in County Kerry, Ireland during the summer.
"I don't think I can recommend this book highly enough. This is really a great read that I had trouble putting down." - Books Like Breathing
"Jeanette Baker knows how to tell a story. She is one of those writers who tugs at the mind as well as the heartstrings with her historical romances. " - Debbie's Book Bag
"The author has woven together in a flawless fashion, a blend of the past and present for an irresistible read that draws you in from the beginning" - Eva's Sanctuary
"A delightful, engrossing read that I really had a hard time putting down." - Broken TeePee
Cait Ness, Scotland
Leaving her with Bonnie Sutherland was clearly the most difficult thing I'd ever done. She was so very small, her skin milky sweet, her features yet unformed, her stare the vacant opaque gray of the netherworld. She was the reason I'd kept in touch with Bonnie and Ken across thousands of miles, the reason I sent for them from halfway across the world.
We were all Sutherlands, of course, but the connection was too distant to call us family. Yet, because of who I was and what I saw, I knew Bonnie would come. I knew she would take her, raise her, love her and send her back to me when the time was right. I knew also that she would never betray me. What I didn't know, what I couldn't possibly imagine, was the pain I felt when it came time to let her go.
She was born of my flesh and blood, but there was little of me, nor of the isle of Cait Ness, in her, neither hair nor eyes nor temperament. She was all Hunter, from the wispy black hair sprouting from her small, perfectly shaped skull to the odd Celtic slant of her eyes.
I took some small comfort in that. But when a woman carries a child beneath her heart for nine long months, feels the fluttering life force quicken and turn within her, suffers the agony of childbirth, hears the first faint wail heralding life and knows the age-old, insistent pull of a tiny mouth against her breast, somehow lineage pales in significance.
I knew from the beginning how it must be. The vision was clear enough, although, not being one of the twice-born, I never knew why I was the one selected to see what others could not, to bear the burden and the wonder of the Sight. I was taught that it wasn't suitable for mere mortals to question the web destiny chose to weave for those of us caught in her silken strands. It was a gift handed down to the very few. For that gift, I would pay the price of obedience.
Most of the time it is enough for me to understand that every small cog in the windmill of life has its singular purpose, that we are here not once but many times, on a journey that ends quite differently than we could ever imagine. Occasionally there is a moment of doubt, a flash of awareness, a diamond-edged moment when duty gives way to a pain so acute, so all-consuming, that I cannot help but cry out in anguish, pleading for answers, for release, for the blessed peace of the sightless. The answers come, but not soon enough, not nearly soon enough.
She was born, as I was, here on Cait Ness, one of the islands in the far North Country called the Shetlands. Here, where legend tells us that Morgawse was queen to King Lot, mists hover like blankets of smoke over stark hillsides and barren shorelines. Waves of cerulean blue pound coarse-sand beaches and gulls circle and shriek beneath a leaden sky. On Cait Ness, land of the Sutherlands, the old ways of the Druids mingle with the teachings of Christ in a jumble of sacred confusion. Here, where the Picts ruled for centuries, tracing their lineage through matrilineal bloodlines, Christianity came late and, to many, not at all.
To the Catach, the worshipers of sun and moon, of fire and water and earth and wind, the concept of woman and her role in original sin was met with great skepticism. Women were life givers, harbingers of mystery, their bodies carrying the secrets of immortality. Men honored, revered and served them. It was here, on Cait Ness, that I learned my craft.
It is not for me to question why infants are fed spoonfuls of dirt to cement their partnership with the land, or why salt and rock and sea and air are given the same regard as sheep and cow and human child. It is, I was taught, as it always was.
I came soon to the understanding that I would be a seer of the Pectiwita as my mother was before me and her mother before her and her mother before that. I knew that I would be alone, forbidden to share my life with another, and that I would know what others would not. All this and more I was prepared for.
Although the followers of the Goddess are greatly maligned in the more civilized parts of the world, there was never a time when witchcraft was not practiced among the Celtic people who populate the islands known as Britain. Wicca-or wise ones, as we are called-rarely live up to the expectations of outsiders. White witchcraft is nothing more than to work magick for the benefit of others, to use herbs for healing and to look into the future.
We do not, as our persecutors proclaim, worship the devil. Indeed, we do not admit to the existence of Satan. He is a biblical fabrication. Our beliefs are older than the Bible, older than Satan. I have often thought that men need a devil to justify the evil that exists in their hearts, but that has nothing to do with us. We worship the Goddess, Mother Earth, the sun and moon, and we use our magick to practice only good. Occasionally we are called to a cause we do not understand. And so it was with me.
If I had known then what I know now it would have made little difference. I could no more have changed the path of my future than I could command away the mists separating the summerlands from the Isle of Cait Ness. Nor did I wish to. It is not often that the chosen of the Pectiwita may follow their hearts. In that I was more fortunate than most. The ways of the star-born are not our ways, although they often work through us. That year the Beltane fires would hold their own special magick for me.
Chapter One Salem, Massachusetts, December 1995
So this was Salem. Kate Sutherland looked up at the leaden sky. It was late afternoon, and the air was sharp and heavy with the promise of snow. She breathed in deeply, smelling salt and fish and the gray, cold scent of the sea. Shivering, she pulled her glove off with her teeth and dug down into her coat pocket for the address she had stuffed into it earlier. Smoothing out the crumpled paper, she glanced at the bold writing and looked up, checking the numbers on the small building before her.
Kate frowned. This must be the place, but it certainly wasn't what she had expected. A Cape Cod saltbox with peeling white clapboards, wooden steps and two feet of unshoveled snow around the doorjamb did not reflect the lifestyle of a woman who could afford a high-priced California law firm. Why Celia Ward of Salem would choose Barrett and MacKenzie, a firm on the other side of the country, to handle a simple tax problem was a mystery Kate wasn't paid to question.
But then Lillian had referred this woman to Kate, and Lillian was full of surprises. Kate hadn't wanted the case. She didn't like traveling and New England in winter didn't appeal to her. It wasn't until Lillian Spencer, Kate's therapist, had explained that Celia was a clairvoyant that Kate's interest was piqued. She had never met a clairvoyant. Something inside of her, something emotional and carefully repressed, broke free and demanded attention. Kate had buzzed her secretary, telling her to place an order for a café latte from the Express House across the street and to book her on a flight to Massachusetts.
At first sheconsidered Celia Ward and the idea of witchcraft laughable. But Salem, Massachusetts, with its street signs in the shape of witches on broomsticks, its Cotton Mather museum and Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables, conjured up ghostly images of a time when it wasn't laughable at all.
Kate shivered. She had completely discounted the snow, something easy to do in the seventy-degree comfort of a Southern California winter. She shivered again, chastising herself for the wild goose chase that had led her to the coast of Massachusetts in the windchill of late December.
She hesitated in front of the door. It was nearly Christmas, and last-minute shoppers, breathless and red-cheeked, hurried down the narrow streets to lighted doorways and apple-log fires. Pine wreaths decorated the doors, and windows were glazed with flocking and holiday greetings. Kate expelled her breath in a cloud of mist. Why was she so reluctant to meet the woman now that she was actually here? Her plane left Logan Airport at nine the next morning. It was now or never. She resolutely pulled the bell.
A cheery voice called out, "Come in."
Wiping the snow from her boots, Kate stepped inside and looked around. A counter reminiscent of a fifties' diner ran the entire length of the room. Glass jars of every shape and size filled with powders, liquids, shells, flakes and feathers were side by side. Dried herbs hung from the open-beamed ceiling and chintz-covered pillows beckoned invitingly from two loveseats in the comer. A fire blazed in the fireplace, and a long-haired white cat slept on a braided rug in front of the hearth.
On her knees, rummaging in the drawer of an antique dresser, was a small woman wearing jeans and an enormous red sweatshirt. Her profile -- all Kate could see from her place near the door -- revealed a tip-tilted nose, round metal-framed glasses and the longest blond braid she had ever seen on an adult woman. The woman looked up and grinned. "Have a seat."
She wasn't as young as Kate had first thought. Despite the braid, the youthful clothing and unlined skin, there was something about the woman's eyes that spoke of experience, wisdom and a deep, unshakable compassion.
Kate smiled tentatively, walked across the room to the loveseat and sat down. If this was Lillian's witch, there was certainly nothing intimidating about her. "Are you Celia Ward?" she asked.
"In the flesh," the blonde replied, standing up, flipping the braid over her shoulder and closing the drawer with her foot. "What can I do for you?"
Kate hesitated. For a moment it seemed as if their roles were reversed and Celia Ward really could do something for her. She shook off the feeling and stretched out her hand. "I'm Kate Sutherland, the attorney from Barrett and MacKenzie. We have an appointment. I'm sorry that I didn't call from the airport."
"Oh yes. Kate Sutherland." Celia's forehead wrinkled as she shook Kate's hand. "You look very familiar to me. Have we met before?"
Kate shook her head. "I don't think so. I rarely come to Boston."
Celia Ward stared into the wide, expressionless eyes of the woman before her. She really was quite lovely, decided Celia, or she would be without that tight took drawing down her face. Kate Sutherland exuded a dignified sort of beauty, the kind that came from long bones and straight teeth and thick, shining hair.
"I'll make some tea," Celia said softly, rising to her feet, "and then I'll explain my legal problem. There's no hurry. Take off your coat and relax."
Gratefully, Kate shed her coat and gloves and leaned back against the pillows. She had what was left of the day and night. The fire was pleasant, the woman friendly. Maybe this anxiety she felt was nothing at all.
Celia returned with a tea tray, china teapot, matching cream and sugar bowl, two delicate porcelain cups and sterling-silver teaspoons. "I normally use mugs," she explained, positioning the tray on the floor beside the loveseat, "but you look like the cup-and-saucer type."
Kate picked up a cup, refusing lemon and sugar, and cut to the quick. "What kind of legal troubles are you having, Ms. Ward?"
Celia stirred milk into her teacup and sipped it. "I'm a member of the Wicca religion. The word means 'wise one.' We follow the practices of the ancient Druids. The government has audited me and decided that I owe nearly fifty thousand dollars in back taxes."
Kate's voice was firm, crisp. "Do you have receipts, check stubs, a log?"
"I have everything," Celia insisted. "it isn't a question of proving expenses. The problem is the Internal Revenue Service has decided that I'm not a legitimate business."
"You don't have to be. The law clearly states that expenses for the purpose of maintaining and upholding religious institutions are deductible. You are a religious institution, aren't you?"
"Yes, we are," Celia said softly, "one of the oldest religions in the world, with a great many practitioners."
Kate rubbed the delicate edge of her cup with the tip of her finger. "You're not what I imagined."
Blue eyes twinkled back at her. "What did you expect? A black robe and a broomstick?"
For the first time, Kate laughed, liked the sound and laughed again. "Not exactly. I did think you'd be more mysterious, maybe a little frightening, certainly older."
Celia Ward looked down at her tea. When she looked up again, there was nothing of warmth or sympathy in her eyes. "I can be frightening, Kate," she said quietly. "But not today and not to you. Now, tell me why Lillian Spencer sent you to me."
"To help you with your tax problem. Why else?"
Celia shook her head. "I don't think so. I don't have the Sight, but I know Lillian. Your being here is no accident. Lillian knows a lot of lawyers -- there are several firms that have offices in Los Angeles and Boston besides Barrett and MacKenzie. There's no logic in asking you to fly all the way out from Los Angeles unless she had a specific reason."
"Federal problems have no jurisdiction and I am licensed to practice in Massachusetts," Kate explained. "Besides, I'm only here to advise you on your case. If, after reviewing the facts, I think you have one, I can refer you to a litigations attorney in our Boston office." "That doesn't explain why Lillian chose you." "I'm very good at what I do, Miss Ward."
Celia sighed. "I wish you would take off those contact lenses I can't see anything through them."
Kate gasped. No one had ever guessed that she wore contacts. With the colored lenses in, her eyes were nothing like the vivid aquas and turquoise colors worn by those who wanted to be noticed. Kate had deliberately chosen an innocuous blue-gray, a color typical of ninety percent of the light-eyed population. "How did you know?" she asked.
"Your eyes tell me nothing at all," said Celia matter-off-factly "That's the first clue. Please take them off. I'll be much more comfortable if you do."
Kate hesitated. Somehow their positions had been reversed and she wasn't sure she wanted it that way. Then she reached down for her bag and opened the zippered pocket, pulling out a small plastic case and a bottle of saline. She squeezed several drops of the liquid into each side of the case and self-consciously removed first her right contact lens, then her left, dropping them into the container. Slowly, she raised her eyes to the other woman's expectant gaze.
Celia Ward's eyes widened and she went very still. She had never imagined it would make such a difference. Kate Sutherland, with her true coloring, was vividly, hauntingly beautiful. Celia could remember only one other person with eyes like that. A thought occurred to her, and this time she looked more carefully at the younger woman's face. Sweet heaven! Could it possibly be? She repressed a tremor of delight. It had been such a very long time.
She decided to begin slowly. "We can't do this over tea and polite conversation," she explained. "It takes much more. Why don't you tell me something about yourself?"
"What did you mean by not having the Sight?"
"I think you know the answer to that."
Kate swallowed and lifted the teacup to her lips. Her hands shook, but she craved the heat and warmth of the liquid. "I'm not sure that I know what you're talking about."
"Of course you do, or you wouldn't have come here at all." Celia stood up and held out her hand.
"Will you let me show you?" Kate hedged. "Well, we've got to take care of your tax problem and I have a plane to catch in the morning."
"I need at least three days."
"Impossible." Kate was emphatic.
"It's my mother. She's alone now and her health is poor. I can't leave her alone at Christmastime. My sister lives in Florida. She'll be celebrating the holidays with her husband's family."
Celia tilted her head, considered telling her and decided against it. Kate was very resistant. Perhaps it wasn't yet her time. If Celia had learned anything in her forty-eight years, it was that certain things couldn't be rushed. "All right," she conceded. "Perhaps you should go home. You can always come back."
Kate set down her cup and reached for her briefcase. "Let's get to your taxes, shall we?"
Four hours later, Celia stretched out her legs and yawned. "It's late. Why don't I see what's in the refrigerator. We can finish up after we eat."
Kate checked her watch: It was after ten. "I should get going. I think I have enough information. I'll call if I need anything else."
Celia looked startled. "You can't possibly think I'd allow you to leave on a night like this. It's snowing and you're from California. The spare room is all made up. I insist that you spend the night."
In the end Kate agreed. Negotiating the streets of Salem in an unfamiliar automobile didn't appeal to her, and Celia was more than welcoming.
The guest room was old-fashioned and lovely, with daisystudded wallpaper, matching curtains and a down-filled comforter, hardly Kate's idea of a witch's bedroom. One of the doors led to a modern bathroom with thick lemoncolored towels.
Kate washed her face, brushed her teeth and pulled a flannel nightgown over her head. She was exhausted. Leaving the bathroom light on, she pulled back the comforter, climbed into the double bed and fell asleep.
Immediately they claimed her, images she neither recognized nor understood. A land surrounded on all sides by water and gray mist. Grass, a brilliant, shocking green.
Sheep grazing on hillsides before cottages with thatched roofs and whitewashed walls. Red-cheeked children racing down unpaved roads shaped like question marks and, high on a bluff, an attractive red-haired woman approaching middle age stood wrapped in a plaid shawl facing the sea.
Then suddenly the scene changed, and along with it she felt a weightless turning and the loss of all sense of direction. Once again she was in a place she didn't recognize. It was dark, and torches licked the dampness from hissing stone walls. A turreted castle dominated the landscape, and people dressed in period clothing appeared to be in the middle of a historical reenactment.
Kate was moving faster now, across the drawbridge and courtyard, through the huge oak doors into the great hall. The room was lit with thousands of candles, and elegantly dressed men and women were seated at long banquet tables. The handsome black-haired man with the dazzling smile was the king. Kate was sure of it, although he wore no crown. She recognized the redheaded woman by his side. Someone else should be here. Someone very important, but who?
The door to a small antechamber opened, and a man stepped out and walked across the floor toward his king. He was tall and lean and he moved with a predatory, catlike grace. His hair, shorn close to his head, was a rich mahogany, and the third finger on his left hand was missing.
Suddenly Kate found it difficult to breathe. Pain and joy warred with each other in her subconscious. She reached up to touch her cheek. It was wet with tears. This man was no stranger. She knew him as well as she knew herself. His smile, his strength, the warmth of his hands, the ice in his eyes, were as familiar to her as her own face. "Patrick," she whispered. "Patrick MacKendrick."
A voice she recognized as Celia's broke through her vision. "Enough, Kate. Time is running short. You've seen enough for now. Concentrate and go back."
Kate's mind screamed with frustration. She needed more time, just a little more time. Someone else should be here, someone very important, someone who held the key to her locked memories. A woman stood near the fire, her face in the shadows. A woman with long black hair and a red gown. Who was she, why wouldn't she come forward? Kate struggled to pull away from the hand that held hers in a grip of steel.
"Let me go," she shouted. "I want to stay. Please, let me go."
"I can't, Kate," Celia's reasonable voice answered. "This isn't your place. You would be lost forever. Concentrate. Come back now."
A hand tugged insistently at her arm. A warm wind rushed at her, whipping back her hair and burning her eyes, Again she lost all sense of space and time. The terrifying, frantic feeling left her and the weightless peace returned. Her eyes opened briefly, focused on the daisy wallpaper and closed again. The dream was over. She would sleep until morning.
Copyright © 2000 by Jeanette Baker
Posted July 27, 2011
Kate Sutherlands' adoptive mom Bonnie's last wish was for her ashes to be spread over their homeland the Shetland Islands. Kate leaves Laguna Beach for Scotland to perform the deathbed request but remains stunned that her late mom had not conceived her as she was unaware until recently she was adopted. Wiccan Celia Ward informs Kate that the reasons for what happened can be found from Pectiwita High Priestess Maura Sutherland on Cait Ness Isle.
Maura has waited for Kate to come home. Meanwhile Kate is attracted to Niall McCormick while she also dreams of a woman who historian Niall MacCormack says is the late Countess of Bothwell Catriona Wells of the court of King James IV. Accused of treason, Catriona tries to save her brother's life while only Patrick MacKendrick may save hers.
This is an intriguing paranormal romance as Catriona's tragic life haunts Kate who cannot move on until she resolves what happened five centuries ago so her spirit can finally rest. With a strong support cast then and now, fans will relish this engaging thriller as Kate tries to understand her heritage including why Catriona has come to her.
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Posted January 11, 2013
Loved this book. Something different to read. A woman's haunting dreams takes her back in time. Was she dreaming of something that truly happened or was she reincarnated and was dreaming of a past life. I loved this story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2012
Posted February 16, 2012
Posted October 5, 2011
Can the future change the past? If not, that future will suffer. In this book, the two are linked, and it goes in both directions. Interesting, magical, supernatural concepts are touched upon here. with breathtaking descriptions of setting, Catriona is set mostly in Scotland, the Shetland Islands.
The author has a wonderful grasp of the culture, bringing it to refreshing life. The entrancing atmosphere and feel of the story comes across as well as in Ms. Baker¹s other books. However, the style of writing differs from the last book of hers I read. Having readLegacy last I was quite impressed with the author¹s gift for words, elegance of phrasing etc. so chose this book (Catriona) to read. However, in this book, the technical execution was not as brilliant, not as graceful. Still, Catriona is fast-paced and attention holding.
Fascinating concepts are addressed such as (from the book) "Sometimes the windows of time open for a later self to step inside and provide help."
Kate Sutherland, Scottish born and American raised, is a great character. She goes back to Scotland filled with questions after discovering that she was adopted. A woman from the past, from the 15th century, is calling to her in the future for help. Will Kate be able to aid this woman? The suspense is strong enough to keep one turning pages. Kate's dreams disturb her. What can she possibly do? How can she help someone who's been dead for hundreds of years? Is there anything people can do to stop fate?
Cat, Kate's counterpart in the past is a good character too, strong yet vulnerable. She has to learn to rely on someone other than herself. When reading about her time, the 15th century, the reader is treated to rich historical details.
The men in this book, Kate's Niall, and Cat's Patrick, are strong men who assertively look out for their women. The story going on in the past is a great parallel for what Kate is going through in the present with her family and romantic interest.
There are confusing parts in this book but not enough to interfere with the enjoyment of the story. The ending did not disappoint. Jeanette Baker is an author to check out for readers who love Scotland and that beautiful
culture. She connects the past and present wonderfully.
Originally posted at The Long and Short of It Romance Reviews
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Posted March 10, 2012
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Posted March 15, 2013
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