The Perfect Gift

( 3 )


A woman of rare passion

When Maggie Kincade arrives at Draycott Abbey, she is stunned to fell that the weathered stone walls offer a safe haven fron the dangers of her past. The tranquil English manor soothes her troubled soul'until her peace is shattered by the tall, sexy Scotsman who claims he's been sent to protect her. From the start, Maggie bristles under Jared MacNeill's piercing scrutiny'yet his very ...

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A woman of rare passion

When Maggie Kincade arrives at Draycott Abbey, she is stunned to fell that the weathered stone walls offer a safe haven fron the dangers of her past. The tranquil English manor soothes her troubled soul'until her peace is shattered by the tall, sexy Scotsman who claims he's been sent to protect her. From the start, Maggie bristles under Jared MacNeill's piercing scrutiny'yet his very touch jolts her, heart and soul.

A highland hero with a granite code of honor

Jared arrives at the hauntingly beautiful abbey under protest vowing this assignment will be his very last. But he is enchanted by the breathtaking American assigned to his care, for beneath her bravado he senses a woman desperately in need of help. Despite all his honorable vows, Maggie's bravery intrigues him and her slightest touch enflames his deepest passions. When an old danger stalks Maggie to the high hills of Scotland, Jared swears to move heaven and earth to keep her safe.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380800230
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Series: Draycott Abbey Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 585,639
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.04 (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

Loch Maree, Scotland
Late autumn

The first snowflakes of winter dance over Scotland's green hills.

He stood on the high slope, knapsack on one shoulder and gaunt face turned to the wind. The stony heights did not deter him, nor did the chill, of late October. He welcomed both wind and cold as the old friends they were.

His name was Jared Cameron MacNeill, and he had come home to die.

It had seemed a good plan long months ago, when he'd stood squinting at the beach beneath a baking Asian sun. Now the Scotsman Wasn't so sure.

His feet brushed the very edge of the cliff, where granite fell away to cold air and biting wind. The seventh after seven of his line, MacNeill felt his eyes glint with momentary pleasure at the sight of the mountains already snowcapped and bright in the gathering dawn., Then he turned his face to the wind and forced all thought from his mind. He simply felt.

How green the world seemed. How sosoft the heather.

Rounded slopes swelled from loch to bright loch. Even the air was different here--light and sharp. Pungent with peat and sea salt. The great loch had been home to Ins clan for generations of gain and loss, warfare and peace. Now Jared stared over the steep slopes, remembering tales of old feats and dark blood rivalries. Though he had been gone for six years, the brooding hills seemed unchanged. If only the rest of his heritage were the same.

Don't look back.

Lines of exhaustion traced his lean cheeks, and his gray eyes were empty of emotion. Perhaps he had felt too much, crouched in the midnight streets of Rome, Bogota and Kowloon. Or perhaps he had not felt enough. Not in the ways thatmattered.

Don't look back

He stared at the rain-veiled peaks to the north.

Ben Slioch. The Fannich heights and remote Sgurr Mor towering over the cold glass of Loch Fannich. Out to the west An Teallach, bleak and dark, wrapped in perpetual mists.

The names came to him in the old tongue, Gaelic learned at his father's knee in rich phrases that rippled through his mind like sunbeams off stormy water. The old sounds had not changed, nor -had the air. Every breath bit at his throat, sharp with pine, peat, and the tang of the cold Atlantic. Jared savored the memories as he looked down where blue water clawed against the curving arms of ancient green hills and golden bays.

Once again he remembered his brother's warning: Don't look back.

Sound advice.

But it had come from a man who'd been too proud to heed his own words. Jared wondered if it Was pride that had killed him.

Wind whipped at his long hair and lashed at his face as Jared realized that he never should have returned to this beautiful loch full of mystery and brooding silence. The secluded hills held the bones of warriors and saints, and he was neither. From here his journey led in only one direction.

His shoulders tensed beneath the folds of worn Hebridean tweed. Even the wind could not shift, the heavy MacNeill tartan at his knees. He was the latest of his line to stand on this high hill, the latest to watch the sun paint tracks of gold over the great loch.

He would also be the last.

So be it.

A whine split the air at his elbow.

He ignored the shrill burst, from the phone in his knapsack. He knew he should have left the cellular back in his car, but staying in touch was a habit hard to break. Nevertheless, his employers would soon learn to forget him, just as he meant to forget them. He closed his eyes at the thought, willing himself to ignore the shrill peals.

In a split second the Scotsman was carried back to a night two years before when his world had changed forever in a nightmare of heat and unrelenting pain. Trapped in a box in the stifling jungle, captive of a hostile government, he had discovered the boundaries of his own strength. Only through a miracle had he escaped dying from the nightly visits that had left his body bleeding and wracked with pain.

Don't ever look back.

Now he was home, and it was two months before Christmas, but what did that mean to him? His broad shoulders carried the marks of old wounds, and his heart carried a heavier weight than that. He had come to Scotland looking for some hint of home, only to find that the great loch and the high hills were no longer enough to soothe his soul.

Another peal jolted his reverie.

Jared smiled darkly. The careful men in careful suits would soon forget him. He was of no further use to them.

As the phone rang on, he turned to the west. Closer to the edge of the loch, he saw three laughing men load wooden crates onto a battered green lorry. A pair of schoolchildren chased a herd of wary sheep.

Something brushed his face. Early snow? Or was it regret?

The phone finally slid into silence. Perhaps they had finally accepted the resignation he'd left on their desks two days earlier. He could well imagine their shock .

What to do now? He supposed he should follow the weathered stone fence up to the house of his youth. Taigh na Coille. House in the woods.

But Jared found he hadn't the heart to see, the gray stone walls or the tiny leaded windows. He certainly didn't want to walk among the old graves in the kirk. He would see them soon enough, and not as an idle guest His visions since Thailand were clear in that respect. His death would come when he least expected it, walking beside a lichencovered boulder beneath a tree with a broken branch.

Perfect Gift. Copyright © by Christina Skye. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2005

    Heartwarming book, wonderful

    If you like scottish romances that are set in a more modern time, then this book is for you. Jared McNeill will seduce you with his quiet strength and granite honor. He is the scottish hunk who every woman wants to experience in her lifetime. Maggie Kincade is the total opposite of him and is the perfect match. This book will keep you riveted with its plot full of political intrigue, suspense, and magic. Very satisfying!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2001

    Wonderful Book

    This book was simply wonderful. Christina's way with the scenes, characters, and words is beyond anything. Enjoyed reading this book. Can't wait to read her other ones. Would recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2008

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