Key to Forever


Once raised to defend a doomed Scottish queen, the Cameron sword lies hidden, guarded by a deadly curse. Only the bravest dare seek the fabled blade – and the rare treasure it contains. A British earl with gypsy blood, in his wild youth Alexei Cameron shared an extraordinary night with a beautiful stranger who vanished with the dawn. Now she is back in his life – bound to him in a chilling mission.

A tour guide at beautiful Draycott Abbey and an expert on ancient weaponry, ...

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Once raised to defend a doomed Scottish queen, the Cameron sword lies hidden, guarded by a deadly curse. Only the bravest dare seek the fabled blade – and the rare treasure it contains. A British earl with gypsy blood, in his wild youth Alexei Cameron shared an extraordinary night with a beautiful stranger who vanished with the dawn. Now she is back in his life – bound to him in a chilling mission.

A tour guide at beautiful Draycott Abbey and an expert on ancient weaponry, Joanna Russell had good reasons for abandoning Alex after their unforgettable night of passion. But she must forget her haunted past to solve the puzzle of the lost Cameron sword – confronting dark secrets and an enemy who knows too much. To find their treasure, Alex and Joanna must fulfil their destiny, set centuries before. For the key to an ancient mystery lies in a passion reborn…and in a haunting love too long denied.

Alexei Cameron, a British earl with Gypsy blood, shared a memorable night with a stranger who vanished. Now she's back in his life--bound to him on a chilling mission. Joanna Russell, a tour guide at Draycott Abbey and a weapon's expert, must join forces with Alexei to find a missing ancient sword. Ads in Good Housekeeping. Original.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
An excess of plot twists and a cast of willfully odd or relentlessly over-determined characters-human, animal, otherworldly-burden Skye's latest addition to her Draycott Abbey series after Bride of the Mist. A night of passion comes back to haunt antique-weapons expert, Joanna Russell, when she re-encounters Alexei Cameron, the handsome, broad-shouldered, half-Gypsy, earl of Greywood " `a Chteau Lafite. Or maybe you'd prefer a Chteau d'Yquem '55.' ". After pages of verbal sparring, Joanna and Alex join forces to unearth the priceless Cameron claymore-a rare two-handed sword. "For centuries the Cameron sword has been a curse to all who possess it," says guardian ghost, Adrian Draycott to Gideon, his faithful cat companion. But now, it's time for him to lift the spell that has shielded the sword from discovery, and let Joanna and Alex find their destiny. While Skye's poetic prose makes this offering readable, the story is so overwritten it dilutes the magical charm that has informed her previous books. Mar.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380782802
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Series: Draycott Abbey Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 733,736
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Chritina Skye has eaten snake meat in Shanghai and armadillo in Canton. A Ph.D. graduate in Chinese literature, she has translated for Chinese generals, dissident poets, and fifth-generation puppet masters. In 1981 the Ohio native was nearly arrested when a businessman she was working for insisted she help him smuggle two "ladies of dubious virtue" into Peking's prestigious State Guest House.

The armed PLA soldiers at the gate were not amused, shenotes. But these days Skye's greatest love is England,especially the fog-swept southeast coast. Here she firstencountered the portrait of a proud-faced, sad-eyed aristocratand a great gray cat sitting protectively beneath it. Adrian andGideon haven't given her a moment's peace since.

Two Draycott novellas later (one appeared in Avon Books'Haunting Love Stories and one in Bewitching Love Stories),the award-winning author of four historical romances is deepat work on a new novel set at magical Draycott Abbey.

A descendant of Revolutionary War hero Adam Helmer,Christina Skye currently lives with her husband and youngson in New Jersey, where she prudently avoids snakes andanything that resembles an armadillo.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Greywood House
Sussex, England
Twelve Years later

The sword seemed alive.

The swordsman stood shirtless and sweating in the empty ballroom. A vast cut-crystal chandelier spilled light over his powerful shoulders and long blue-black hair. He lunged sideways and hefted the broadsword in a swift, lethal crosscut that would have left any attacker reeling.

Or dead.

Without pausing, he braced his legs and swung the heavy shaft upward in a clean attack guaranteed to finish whatever life his first stroke had missed.

His face was bathed with sweat as he shoved back his hair and studied the fine, honed blade of the sword. The hilt was perfectly curved and the heavy pommel carefully designed to balance the long, thirty-inch blade. The sword was that rare instrument, a warrior's blade as well as an artist's delight, in which use and design met perfectly.

Alex Cameron's lips curved as he turned the sword to read the line of fine gold script incised along the blade. The words were Gaelic. "When the heart is true, the blade is sure."

Was his heart true? Alexei Cameron wondered.

He touched the warm hilt of the Cameron replica he'd begun years ago with Constantin. The grip felt slightly uneven. He would have to unwrap the braided leather and refit it tomorrow.

He permitted himself a smile of triumph. Over six months of work had gone into producing this weapon. He had learned many of the old man's secrets in the process.

Alex raised the broadsword and studied its glowing length beneath the chandelier. Each movement made light splinter and bounce over the fine blade, giving it a strangesheen.

The glow of Alex's own spirit was captured within the metal, just as his old teacher had told him.

His fingers moved over the pommel, taking primitive pleasure in the product of his sweat and skill. He laughed softly, finding a sensual delight in every curve of the finished sword.

Yes, the weapon was good.

He turned slowly, studying the oil painting that dominated one wall of Greywood's ballroom. A Highlander stood against sullen mountains, clad in a length of bright cloth. One long fold lay draped over his shoulder. His hands were huge, and his eyes held the same tawny specks that Alex's did. But it was the sword that commanded the picture, its huge blade raised high to catch sparks from a distant bolt of lightning.

The claidheamh mor of the Cameron clan. A claymore that was now priceless. Or it would be if it still existed.

Alex's eyes narrowed. His father had told him the painting was by Van Dyck, and Alex saw no reason to doubt him in spite of the pale and precise young scholar from Oxford who had published a paper sneering at the theory.

The scholar's theories did not matter. Nor did the artist in the end.

Only the sword mattered. As Alex studied the huge canvas, his hands curved unconsciously, moving to fit the shape of the broad grip crisscrossed by finely braided leather. He drew a slow breath, almost able to

feel the dense weight slap against his palm. If the painting was accurate, the claymore was wonderfully balanced, its wide hilt a perfect counterweight to the long blade. This was the painting Alex and Constantin had used to make their replica years before. Alex smiled, remembering how his father had been struck speechless by the gift.

That had been the first moment of true communication between them since Alex's return from Estavia, and the gift had begun the journey to bridge their years of separation. The voyage had not been easy. Alex had been raw and rebellious, and often their discussions had turned to shouts. Whenever Alex had come to apologize, he had found his father here in the ballroom, frowning up at the portrait, his eyes filled with sadness. He had always cleared his throat, rushing off to some urgent appointment. On the day Alex had finally found the courage to ask him about the sword, the earl had sighed, looking away. Alex still remembered the moment clearly. There had been heat lightning climbing Greywood's hills above the dark woods bordered by roses.

The earl's explanation had been terse. The old claymore, he explained, was long lost, vanished in the days of Mary, Queen of Scots. An early Cameron had served the queen well, following her into captivity at Hardwick, then briefly at Draycott Abbey. This same Angus Cameron had been involved in a desperate plot to free the queen, but the effort had failed.

Alex's father would say no more than that.

Now Alex stood before the priceless portrait, feeling oddly uneasy. Maybe it was his Gypsy intuition that made him look down at the great scabbard lying by his ancestor's foot. Its surface was embossed with gold studded by a dozen pearls and one huge ruby. Van Wyck had worked these details from sketches made by a family retainer, Alex had been told. At one time there had even been talk of a diary describing the events leading up to the sword's disappearance.

Alex knew there was much his father had kept hidden from him. There had been respect but never an easy relationship between the two men. And when his father died two years before, no diary had been found among his papers.

Alex looked up, awed by the skill of the craftsman who could forge such a great weapon-and the strength of the warrior who could wield it. "What do you know that you do not tell, Angus Cameron? What secrets are hidden where you lie? Is the great sword even now clutched beside you in the cold earth?"

There was no sound in the still room. Alex shrugged. Was he actually talking to a man who had been dead for four hundred years?

There were far more important matters he should be considering. By single-minded focus and relentless attention, Alex had built up the Greywood enterprises in a dozen countries. First had come microchip technology in Ireland, then the petrochemical drill bits and seismographic software sold in China, Japan, and the Middle East. Now that Alex finally had the funds to indulge his own passion for collecting, he found himself locking horns with one man over and over...

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