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On a Highland Shore

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In an age when Norse invaders threaten Scottish civilization, one woman will defend her clan's honor and claim her own exceptional destiny.

1263: As the Highland village of Somerstrath prepares for the joyous wedding of Margaret MacDonald, the laird's daughter, a dark storm of bloodshed and betrayal closes in.... Now, determined to hold her shattered clan together and locate her abducted younger brother in the wake of a brutal Viking attack, Margaret must choose between obeying ...

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On a Highland Shore

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Overview

In an age when Norse invaders threaten Scottish civilization, one woman will defend her clan's honor and claim her own exceptional destiny.

1263: As the Highland village of Somerstrath prepares for the joyous wedding of Margaret MacDonald, the laird's daughter, a dark storm of bloodshed and betrayal closes in.... Now, determined to hold her shattered clan together and locate her abducted younger brother in the wake of a brutal Viking attack, Margaret must choose between obeying the dictates of King Alexander's court, or placing her trust in Gannon MacMagnus, an imposing half-Irish, half-Norse warrior. Who is this stranger who vows not to harm her? Will he vanquish the barbarous killers who would continue to destroy the rugged, magnificent land she calls home?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A grand novel — memorable and transporting." — Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author

"With unparalleled skill and an exquisite sense of time and place, Givens spins a violent, realistic tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, breathing life into characters both real and fictional." — Library Journal, starred review

"With unparalleled skill and an exquisite sense of time and place, RITA Award winner Givens (The Destiny) spins a violent, realistic tale of love, loyalty, and betrayal, breathing life into characters both real and fictional and vividly portraying the turbulence and intricate political machinations of 13th-century Scotland." — Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416509905
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 7/11/2006
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kathleen Givens is the author of the critically acclaimed historical novels Kilgannon, The Wild Rose of Kilgannon, The Legend, and The Destiny. She is the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's coveted RITA Award for Best Historical Romance. Her new novel of the Scottish Highlands, Rivals for the Crown, is forthcoming in paperback from Pocket Books. An ardent traveler, reader, and student of history, she lives in Southern California, but is always ready to roam the Highlands. Visit her website at www.kathleengivens.com.

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Read an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

Lammas Night at the edge of the world

August 1254

The sky was still blue this August evening, the gray sides of the towering mountain peaks of western Scotland were still lit by the sun, but the long day was at last ending. To the east the light was fading in the deep glens and forests, the wind sighing through the branches, lifting drops of water from the tumbling streams onto nearby ferns, where they would linger through the short summer night. The sun moved ever downward in the west, changing the sea from blue to molten silver, and the cobalt of the offshore islands to a muted gray. Waves hurried to claim the shingle, lacy white foam flying from their crests to join with the descending evening.

The young girl who hurried up the headland saw none of it; she saw only the old woman ahead of her moving steadily away, and she increased her speed anxiously. Seals lifted their heads from the water and shorebirds dipped down to get a closer look at the two figures below. But the young girl did not look.

She wanted to see the future.

She was a beautiful child, with long bones and glossy dark hair that waved around her oval face and framed her blue eyes and even features. But it was her determination that one saw, the glint of steel showing in those lovely eyes, usually hidden under a layer of courtesy and training, but now, unwatched except by the creatures of sea and air, her jaw was set and her gaze unfaltering.

She thought of herself as Scottish, but in truth her blood was mixed. She'd been formed by fiery Picts, ancient Caledonians, and ferocious Norsemen on her father's side, triumphant Normans and passionate Celts on her mother's. She knew of their intermingled histories, had heard the stories of the old days and the battles for dominance, of foes who had come from the south and from the sea, of courageous people who had held the Romans at bay and fought off the Vikings. But all that was in the past, and she gave it little thought. It was what was to come that interested her now, and only the old woman could help her to see it.

She'd seen much already this evening, had watched as the rituals of Lammas Night, the first of the harvest festivals, were carried out, the storing of the seed corn and the ceremonial lighting of the bonfire that illuminated the sky. She'd watched the clanspeople her father led devour the Lammas feast and had tasted the Mass Loaf, made from the first flour ground after the harvest. And after the meal, when many of the others were worse for drink, or lost in the wonderful music, she'd watched her father clasp the hand of his latest mistress and slide from the hall. And watched her mother's eyes darken as she saw them go.

She'd seen her younger brother Rignor let an innocent servant take the blame for the cup he'd spilled and no one chide him for it, though both her parents had seen the incident. But why should she expect otherwise when she'd seen the same kind of thing repeated all of his life? She'd seen Dagmar, from the next village, only a few years older, but much wiser in the ways of the flesh, rearrange her skirts and flash a smile to the man she'd just entertained in the gardens.

She'd watched the priest bless the harvest and pray over the seeds that would be stored during the long winter. And, standing at the priest's side, enthralled, she'd watched while the old woman read palms and predicted the future, her tone solemn and accent foreign. The priest had frowned, but he'd listened as intently as the others. The old woman had predicted a good harvest for this year, and a new child for the girl's parents — hardly surprising considering her mother's swollen middle. But she'd told the girl nothing.

The girl already knew much of what lay ahead for her. She was the oldest child of the laird of Somerstrath and she knew her duty. She'd been betrothed to Lachlan Ross since early childhood and knew that eventually she would leave Somerstrath and live her life as his wife. But she wanted to know more than that, so she followed the old woman up this headland that faced the west.

There the woman paused, at the edge of the world, looking across the water, holding the golden star she wore around her neck between her long bony fingers. She turned when the child joined her. "You've come for a reading?"

The girl thrust her hand forward. "Please, if ye would, madam."

The woman's expression softened. She'd half hoped she could leave without the girl's noticing, but was not surprised that the girl had followed her. Now there was no hope for it but to warn her. Margaret MacDonald's life would not be peaceful. She, like her country, would be gravely tested in the years ahead. Scotland, the woman was sure, would survive, despite the forces that would threaten it and the challenges young King Alexander III would face. Margaret MacDonald would come of age in the midst of it all. The old woman sighed. How to tell an innocent what lay ahead? The old woman took the girl's hand, studying her palm for so long that the child shifted her weight impatiently.

"You are well named," the old woman said, looking up at last.

Margaret smiled, not sure what that meant, and the woman laughed gently.

"Look," she said, holding Margaret's palm between them. "This is your heart line and this your life line." She looked into the girl's eyes. "You will face dragons."

Margaret's smile was strained now. Dragons, she thought. Father had been right; there was no magic here, just an old woman hired for entertainment.

"You don't believe me," the woman said, leaning back and giving the girl an appraising look. "Do you know who St. Margaret was?"

"Oh, aye," Margaret said. "She was the queen of Scotland, King Malcolm's wife. I'm named after her. She wasn't a saint then, but..." She stopped as the woman shook her head.

"Not her, child. The first St. Margaret. Do you know her story?"

"No."

"Ah. Well, you should. St. Margaret was a beautiful young girl, not unlike you. She lived in Antioch, a long way from Scotland."

"Is that where ye're from, Antioch?"

The woman's gaze grew distant for the fleetest of moments. "No, child, but closer to Antioch than to here. Someday perhaps you'll hear my story, but not today. I will tell you of my life when next we meet. For, Margaret, I do think we shall meet again." She smiled, her gaze now sharp and tone brisk. "As St. Margaret grew older all admired her beauty, and she caught the eye of a Roman prefect, who wanted to marry her. When she refused, he threw her into a dungeon and left her to die. But she did not die."

"What happened?"

"The devil came to her, offering her freedom for her soul."

"But she dinna take it," Margaret said.

"No, of course not. The devil was so incensed that he turned himself into a dragon and ate her alive."

"Then how did she not die?"

The woman's smile widened. "She did what every self-respecting saint does, Margaret of Somerstrath. She held up the cross of Christ, and the dragon spit her out and died himself."

Margaret slumped, disappointed. She was quite sure no Roman prefect would seek her hand in marriage, that no dragon would threaten her.

"Look," said the woman, tracing a finger down the girl's lifeline. "See this break? You'll be torn from your home, and you'll face dragons. If you choose the right partner, you'll slay them together. And together find the love of legends."

"And if I dinna choose the right partner? What then?"

"You'll perish."

Margaret fought against the sudden chill that claimed her and forced herself to look into the woman's eyes. "I dinna believe any of that."

The woman laughed, the sound chilling Margaret even more.

"We do not choose what God sends us, child, any more than we choose our own names. Margaret you are, and Margaret you will be, and your life will be formed by that. You will face dragons. You need to prepare yourself for it." She started away, her progress surprisingly rapid for one so aged.

Margaret watched for a moment, torn between disappointment and curiosity, then ran after her. "But how will I ken the right partner? How will I ken it's him?"

The old woman stopped. "You will know him. He will be unlike any other man you've known. He will be golden. He will bring life after death."

"But how will I ken?"

"Listen. There is a voice within each of us. Listen to it."

"What will happen to me?"

"Before you leave this earth, Margaret MacDonald, you will see the birth of a people formed from many peoples, made of steel and fire and magic and mist, a people who will travel the world and change it forever."

"But how...?"

"I can tell ye nothing more. Go home, child. The darkness is coming."

Copyright © 2006 by Kathleen Givens

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

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(18)

4 Star

(10)

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(2)

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(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book had a slow start. Sometimes I felt like I was reading a history book, but the story was interesting so I continued. I¿m glad I did, because it had an excellent exciting ending! It really seemed to take forever for the hero and heroine to meet. Gannon was a strong hero-very manly, an equal to men much older and more powerful than he. It was difficult to picture him with blonde hair, though. ¿Gannon MacMagnus¿ just sounds like a dark-haired guy. And Margaret, the heroine, was likable. She made mature decisions when faced with difficult circumstances. Women had so few options and so little control over their lives back then. Nor, the bad guy was deliciously evil! He was the most complicated and interesting character in the book. It had some humor too, like how all the Irish were convinced of their natural superiority over the Scots and vice-versa. And the scene when Gannon first wore a feileadh [kilt] was funny. Also, this book is not for those who like really steamy sex scenes, because there were none. There was sexual content but it lacked sizzle. If only the love scenes had been as detailed and graphic as the fight scenes! This book is not the usual titillating, everyone lives ¿happily ever after¿ superficial romance. It is a good read if you like a more realistic love story framed by politics and war strategies and history.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2006

    fine medieval romance

    In 1263 in Somerstrath, Scotland, Margaret MacDonald, the daughter of the Laird, looks forward to her upcoming wedding to Lachlan Ross in a few weeks. However, her euphoria is crushed when she catches Lachlan with her sister Fiona. Their fathers insist Lachlan and Margaret wills still marry and her future spouse swears this was an aberration and he will be a faithful husband Not long after that her newly formed doubts turn to rage and sorrow when marauding Norsemen attack her family¿s keep, killing everyone except her and her younger brother taken prisoner by the invaders. Not long after the massacre, Gannon MacMagnus comes across the shocked Margaret and provides her with aid. Needing any help she can get if she is complete her quest to rescue her sibling, she accepts his help though the kind stranger is obviously of Viking blood. Though Gannon doubts her brother can be rescued by them, he agrees to help her try even as they fall in love one step at a time. --- ON A HIGHLAND SHORE is a fine medieval romance that runs on two subplots for the first third of the novel before the separate strings of Margaret and Gannon tie together. The story line emphasizes the Norsemen impact on Scotland, but not just the typical invades that kills, rapes and plunders. Instead the audience also sees the positive impact on society especially through Gannon and his kin. Kathleen Givens gives her readers a delightful thirteenth century romance starring two likable characters in love who must overcome their respective heritages especially the recent massacre if they are to forge a permanent relationship. --- Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2014

    Amazing Unknown

    Wonderful!

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  • Posted May 31, 2014

    Excellent! I would highly recommend this book. I also have read

    Excellent! I would highly recommend this book. I also have read Rivals for the Crown and Destiny and they are equally excellent. I would certainly give them all a five star rating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014

    Darkpaw

    Attacked but the cats threw her she was badly hurt

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Forest of bone ceremonies

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    Gathering place

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2013

    Island

    Where Clan cats go for Gatherings. Remember, theres a truce. No fighting

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2013

    Help, blackfoot!

    Star result 2

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2012

    Blackfoot

    "This is Shadowclan territory! Get off mangy cats!"

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2012

    A well written book with well-rounded characters in an epic stor

    A well written book with well-rounded characters in an epic story of Viking war. Givens highlights the struggle of women in this time period to have a say in their lives or their destinies, and builds a very believable plot for at least one woman to get the man she wants. Beautiful!

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  • Posted November 24, 2011

    Loved it!

    I loved this book and wish I could find more by this author......it was kind of long but worth the read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2008

    Excelllent Historical Novel

    I enjoyed this novel for it's realistic portrayal of 13th century life. The characters are well-developed and the story line is quite believable. It's not just another trivial 'romance' novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2007

    One of my favorites! And I read a lot!

    I was captured by this book. I love her style of writing, her desciptions of the Vikings, the 'love of legends' between the two main characters. I couldn't wait until my busy days were over and I could curl up with this!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted April 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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