Veternarian Hannah MacPherson knows better than to believe in love at first--or any--sight. True, being swept away by Taggart de Gaelson to the vast Scottish castle she's mysteriously inherited is uber-romantic. The legacy is totally legitimate, and its messenger is big, broad-shouldered, and smokin' in more ways than one . . .
Too bad Taggart forgot to mention that Hannah's also a Guardian of magical dragons called the Draecna. And as Hannah's sworn otherworldly protector, Taggart is honor-bound not to lay a hand on her, no matter how close he gets. . .
But turning duty into pleasure is just too tempting. And for Hannah, mastering her powers and saving two worlds from evil will be way easier than showing one hardheaded warrior that breaking all the rules means they are eternally made for each other . . .
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By MAEVE GREYSON
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2012 Maeve Greyson
All right reserved.
Chapter OneStill no word from the infernal woman. She must be oblivious to her worth. Taggart fisted his hands atop the desk, glaring at the calendar. How long had it been? How many letters had she ignored? Precious time was running out. With her continued silence, she'd force his hand. He would demand her attention.
"Thaetus, how long since we sent the last missive?"
The thwack of the twined mail packet echoed through the room as Thaetus tossed the bundle on the table. "Long enough for the signed receipt to return stating she's received it and disregarded it. Again."
Taggart slammed both fists on the edge of the desk and shoved his chair to the wall. "I canna believe there's still no reply. No response whatsoever. What the hell is wrong with this woman? Ye would think she'd be a tiny bit curious. The women of this world, are they no' supposed to be just a wee bit nosy?"
Thaetus shrugged, peering down his beak-like nose over a pair of dilapidated wire-rimmed spectacles. "If not curious, I thought all Americans were at least supposed to be a bit greedy. Ye would think she'd be thrilled to find she'd inherited a fine piece of land such as Taroc Na Mor."
Taggart launched himself out of his chair and huffed his way across the dense Persian carpet. White knuckling his fists against the damp, cold sill of the window, he stared down into the depressing courtyard below. Where once might have been a garden of well-tended roses stood a clumped circle of mangled thorns choking with shocks of weeds. Dying vegetation surrounded moss-covered flagstones heaved out of place by invading roots of nearby oaks. Overgrown shrubbery sat riddled with out-of-control ivy marauding its way through damaged masonry. A mournful howl filtered from the unseen caverns Taggart knew ran deep beneath the castle. The estate appeared forgotten, the buildings abandoned and battered by the ravages of time.
Taggart blew out a ragged breath. His Taroc Na Mor, his precious sanctuary. The stark vista tore at his heart. Very few individuals on this side of the sacred threshold realized the true importance of this acreage in the remote Highlands. Taroc Na Mor symbolized so much more than just a bit of forgotten land. He'd failed his race's beloved holy ground, failed his duty as protector and lord. He curled his hands tighter, envisioning his helpless charges patiently waiting in the depths below. Grinding his teeth until his jaw nearly cracked, Taggart slammed his hand against the wall. No more waiting. He would get the confounded woman's attention. "That settles it, Thaetus. Hannah Mac Pherson leaves me no choice. Enough of these certified packets and the blasted receipts she just signs and tosses aside!" Taggart turned from the frosted, lead-paned window. "I will go to this place, this Jasper Mills, and track her down. I'll talk to the stubborn woman face to face."
"When ye say ye will go to this place ..." Thaetus paused with a thin hand resting on the brass handle of the door, his wispy brows stretched into an expectant arch.
"I must use this world's backwards conveyance, Thaetus. Please get me an airline ticket, if ye will. I need to blend in with the general populace as much as possible. We must ease Ms. MacPherson into the ways of Taroc Na Mor. If we're to convince her to stay and become a part of our lives, we must take care not to frighten her away."
With a feather-light touch, she adjusted the zoom one more time and double-checked the focus. There. Now, the object in her lens appeared just perfect. The car aligned between the glowing red dots in her camera's lens showed up as crisply and clearly as if she were sitting on the edge of the hood. She'd bide her time and her prey would show up. She'd rub their little noses in it this time. Now when the little miscreant who'd been moving her vehicle decided to appear, she'd snap the picture. She'd have her proof and she'd convince that hardheaded sheriff that his parking tickets were a waste of time.
Hannah settled herself more comfortably on the seat of her ATV. As she took a deep breath and her plan came together, the knot of tension eased in her chest. She could do this; her plan would work. All she had to do was bide her time. She relaxed and allowed her gaze to wander around the peaceful clearing; she realized she sat in one of her favorite spots in the woods. She loved this little hilltop. A serene wind shushed through the leaves fluttering overhead. The fully leafed-out branches of early summer whispered and sang. The pin oaks, maples, and birches swayed with the playful breeze.
She rechecked her beeper. Yep. Battery charged, red light flashing. If anyone needed her, all they had to do was go to the café and Millie would track her down. Closing her eyes, she ticked off her list of patients. She'd just made the rounds of all the farms and everybody was in great condition. Farmer Donovan's mare wouldn't foal for another few days. She'd stopped by the infirmary and checked on Mabry's pups. She worried a little about the runt, but with the bottle-feeding and the liquid vitamins she'd added to his diet, he should continue to thrive.
Stretching her arms overhead, Hannah filled her lungs with the fresh, clean air sifting through the trees. Nothing relaxed her more than the exhilarating scent of greening leaves. Maybe after she nabbed her prankster, she'd sneak a nap later on a stretch of moss-covered ground. A nice slow day, just what she needed, the perfect day to trap a little twerp.
This shouldn't take long. This had to be a couple of local kids one of the town busybodies had paid off. She could hear them now plotting amongst themselves. They would've snickered while they planned where to push her car so the sheriff would write one of his cutesy go-out-with-me tickets. A by-the-book transplant from New York City, Sheriff Matt Mulroney would never write a ticket unless forced to do so. But a flagrant parking violation in front of one of the town's few fireplugs, well, he'd consider that grounds for a ticket for sure.
Fighting against a yawn, Hannah rubbed her eyes as she chuckled to herself. The early summer buzz of the warm woods mesmerized her with a case of the drowsies. If it weren't for the fact they were meddling in her life, she'd find this quite amusing. Hannah doted on Jasper Mills, a miniscule town whose population thrived on the smallest bit of gossip. But the biweekly ticketing of her personal vehicle had almost become a news bulletin on the local morning radio show. Apparently, she'd missed the memo, but it appeared the entire town had held a private ballot and decided she and Sheriff Matt needed to start dating.
Hannah shifted on the seat and scanned the area through the viewfinder. Nothing yet, but she had all day. There was no way they'd be able to resist the bait of her unlocked vehicle sitting unattended on the square. They'd show up. She shook her head. She still hadn't figured out which one of them had managed to sucker Matt into the plot. Evidently, the town had notified Sheriff Matt of the results of their find-Hannah-a-man poll and he'd also decided they needed to start dating.
"Fat chance." Hannah snapped a twig in two and waved it at an inquisitive gray squirrel peering down from a nearby limb. "I don't need a man. I'm the only veterinarian in a five-hundred-mile radius. I don't need anyone to take care of me." She could take care of herself just fine. She'd been doing it for a while now. You'd think they'd get the hint. A gust of wind shoved against her back, pulling her from her thoughts. A familiar ache fluttered in her chest. That old stab of loneliness that had been her constant companion for the past four years. Hannah turned to face the wind, closing her eyes to the breeze.
Jake. Every time she wandered through this part of the woods, the wind stirred against her like a nudging spirit. It just had to be Jake sending her a message from the other side. They'd walked here often when they'd dated. In fact, this neck of the woods had been their playground as kids. Hannah swallowed hard and took a deep breath. At least she could tick off the years now without bursting into tears. Over four years now, since Jake had made her a widow and she'd sworn she'd spend the rest of her life alone on her mountain.
Hannah exhaled with a shudder as she opened her eyes. It seemed like forever ago, the year and half they'd been married. Damn Jake's need to volunteer to patch up the soldiers in the Iraq War. Hannah swallowed hard against the threat of tears as the wind stroked teasing fingers through her hair. He had been such a great doctor. As an orthopedic surgeon, Jake had wanted to do what he could to support the brave soldiers fighting for his freedom. But they'd sent Jake back to her in a box draped with a flag and Hannah had laid him to rest on their mountain. Now here she sat over four years later trying to catch some little twerp hell-bent on making her life difficult. Hannah sucked in a cleansing breath of the early-morning air. Enough. Time to focus on the task at hand.
Hannah propped her chin in her hand and glanced around the hillside as she half watched the dots of people milling around in the square below. Even though they tended to go through her mail, eavesdrop on all her calls, and even place and answer personal ads for her in other county papers, Hannah loved each and every nosy one of the tiny population of seven hundred and nine, if you still counted Mrs. McCreedy's nephew who'd just left for college in Chicago.
Her quiet little town sat trapped in a time warp and she wouldn't have it any other way. Jasper Mills wedged itself inside the valley of the Great Ridge Line Mountains like wild mushrooms at the base of an ancient tree.
"Now, that's what I'm talking about." Hannah straightened as three figures sidled toward her car on the square below. She rechecked the focus in her lens. Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened as she shifted her position on the ATV, steadying herself on the seat. As she followed the slow roll of the car with the lever of the tripod, she reminded herself to breathe. "You have gotta be kidding me! She knows better."
Hannah watched through the camera lens and snapped the pictures as fast as the camera refocused on the culprits below. The more she snapped, the wider she smiled. Her pile of ammunition mounted with every click of the shutter. "This is unbelievable." Incredulity fluttered in the pit of her stomach as the camera whirred with every press of the button.
At last, the plotters' well-laid plan played out. Her car now not only sat in front of the fire hydrant but also blocked the exit to the fire station. The three had outdone themselves this time. And right on cue, Sheriff Matt Mulroney appeared with ticket pad in hand. Hannah took a few additional shots of Matt as the three individuals who had been kind enough to move her car lined up just behind Matt while he wrote the ticket.
"Oh, I can't resist this Kodak moment. I think I'll even zoom in for a close-up. This is unbelievable. Even Millie!" Hannah adjusted the lens and held down the button. There. The perfect shot of the not-so-perfect crime. As the marauders moved away from her car, Hannah peered over the camera, down into the valley. Her plan had worked. She had her evidence. Now all she had to do was pack it up, take it to town, and end their little game.
Hannah bowed her head against the rising breeze as she packed her camera equipment into the padded ammo box strapped to the back of her ATV. The leafy branches of the oaks swayed overhead and sighed as though responding to her stubborn determination. Glancing up into the sunlit canopy, Hannah shook her finger at the sky. "It's time they accepted the fact that I'm just fine with the way things are now. There's no crime in living alone." The woods understood. Now if she could just convince her friends. She yanked the strap hard, securing the ammo box behind the seat.
The wind whipped harder through the tops of the trees as if in response to this statement. The gust rippled through the branches and whirled the leaf mold into spinning bundles of debris. It tugged her ball cap, ripping it off her head, and tore her ponytail loose from its ties. The wind bounced her hair band and cap to the ground, then tossed them among the multicolored carpet of leaves.
Hannah scooped the hair tie and hat from among the dried leaves and wrestled her thick curls out of her face. "All right now. Enough fun and games. I've got to get down to the diner with these pictures and end this foolishness once and for all."
The wind died down, fading through the smaller branches. A stillness fell over the clearing. Hannah shivered as she glanced about the wood. It suddenly seemed strangely deserted. Hannah whistled her favorite bird call that never failed to charm a few feathered friends out of the brush. Nothing. Silence was maintained throughout the wood. Not a branch moved; not a bird chirped. The entire forest stood as though frozen in time.
"Great. Everybody's a critic." Hannah packed up, strapped her helmet on over her favorite ball cap, and headed down the hill toward town.
"There are rumblings."
"There are always rumblings. Do ye have my ticket and the rest of my papers? I dinna want to be delayed any longer." Taggart threw a shirt into a dilapidated, black bag lying open on the bed, then waved his hand until the garment disappeared into its depths.
"Why do ye pack clothes for the journey? Ye can manifest anything ye need." Thaetus frowned down into the cracked leather tote, then glanced back up at Taggart over the bent rims of his glasses.
"I must blend in, Thaetus. Do ye realize how much trouble I'll have with security at the airport if I show up for a flight to the United States with no baggage?" Taggart wandered around the room, spotted a book lying on the table beside the bed, grabbed it, and tossed it in the bag.
"Then just take an empty bag." Thaetus snatched out the book and glanced at the spine with a frown. "This one is mine. Ye canna have it."
"They x-ray the bags, Thaetus. They would question an empty bag just as much as no bag at all. Now, tell me about the rumblings and keep your precious little book." What a fuss over something as silly as a book. With a shake of his head, Taggart stifled a groan, yanked open a drawer, and shoveled up a handful of shirts. Thaetus fretted more over his meager possessions than a female Draecna nesting in her first cavern.
Thaetus hugged his book against his narrow chest and sniffed as he stuck his nose up in the air. "Our sources say they've located our precious guardian. And they know ye travel to recover her."
Taggart slammed the drawer shut so hard the dresser rocked against the wall. "How in the hell did they find that out? If they've found her, they could make an attempt on her life before I get there to protect her." This meant he couldn't get to this Jasper Mills fast enough. Hannah MacPherson wasn't safe. Adrenaline surged through Taggart's veins, pounding the message: Make haste before it's too late. Frustration addled him as he struggled with the fact that he still needed to use twenty-first-century means. If just one inhabitant caught him sifting out of thin air, widespread panic would ensue. Creating chaos among the population of Jasper Mills wasn't the way to win the woman's trust.
Thaetus eased a step back toward the door. "The minion confessed. From the information we gathered from his mind, they know where she resides but they haven't quite pinpointed who she is. So, she's safe for now. But as soon as ye get there, ye can rest assured, they'll figure out exactly which resident she is."
"Has Septamus disposed of him yet?" Taggart clenched his teeth. He already knew the answer before he spoke the question. He'd once interrogated a minion himself. Messy, wicked little bastards once ye'd broken their will.
Thaetus shook his head. "No. The minion destroyed itself as soon as Septamus twisted the last bit of information from its mind."
Excerpted from Eternity's Mark by MAEVE GREYSON Copyright © 2012 by Maeve Greyson. Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Eternity’s Mark By Maeve Greyson Copyright March 2012 Publisher Brava Paranormal Romance Sacred blood flows in Hannah MacPherson’s veins; she’s just too hardheaded to realize it. After losing a husband to the Iraq war, she’s squirreled herself away in a tiny town where she snarls at any man who gives her a second glance. But Taggart de Gaelson knows more about Hannah than she could ever fathom. As her assigned protector, Taggart’s grown tired of Hannah ignoring his messages from Scotland—and now he’s come to retrieve her. The balance of the Continuum depends on a race of sacred creatures who maintain the strength of the portals. Only Hannah’s touch can release the hatchlings from their eggs. Sworn to protect Hannah from others who lust for control of the beasts, Taggart must win her trust. But as he battles at her side, can he protect his heart? Hannah MacPherson is a veterinarian in her hometown of Jasper Mills. She lives a quiet life taking care of her neighbors’ pets, and farm animals. In return they take care of her. The whole town had a hand in raising her after her mother and grandmother died so her life is pretty placid. Of course there’s the family gift, her ability to understand the animals around her and communicate with them in return. Her current problem is the trickster who keeps moving her car and parking it at fire plugs in the Town Square causing her to receive an inordinate amount of tickets from the town’s Sheriff. The fact that he leaves cutesy little notes on them is not endearing him to her either. Today she is going to find out who the culprit or culprits are. She’s set up a camera overlooking the town and will photograph the jokester once and for all. Meanwhile across the world in Scotland a man Hannah has never met or heard of is getting more and more annoyed with her. Taggart de Gaelson has been sending her letter after letter trying to contact her about an inheritance that would change her life. It seems she is the last living heir to a castle and a large area of land. Taggart is forced to travel to the US to find her and convince her to visit Scotland and her inheritance. This book has all the makings of a classic romance and adventure. Hannah our unsuspecting heroine will have to dig deep and learn to use all the skills and gifts that are her true family inheritance. She will face challenges she never dreamed of, and face long hidden truths. When I first read the blurb for this book I knew that it was a story that I had to read and share with the world. I was drawn deeply into the heart of the characters, and found myself looking out of Hannah’s eyes through most of it. My summation of the book is this: Outstanding, Romantic, Scottish Castles, Dragons and Maidens. Who could ask for more? FTC Full Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher, who only asked for a fair and impartial review.
Great read from the start !
Great story! Hannah McPherson has a special inheritance handed down to her through her mother’s side. Taggart de Gaelson is her assigned protector. It’s up to him to convince her to leave her precious mountain and fly to Scotland to claim her heritage. Many worlds, including Earth, depend on his methods to overcome her stubbornness. Will he persevere? Will she be persuaded? What happens when both answers are yes? I really enjoyed this story! Smooth-flowing, great story concept, wonderful world and interesting characters. I had a hard time putting it down. Excuse me…I must go find more books by Maeve Greyson. *The publisher provided a copy of this book to me for review. Please see disclaimer page on my blog.
Nothing beats a brand new adventure and then add in dragons, count me in. Action, alternate worlds, undying love, a secret legacy and the beauty of Scotland are all wrapped up in Eternity’s Mark. Hannah has no idea that she is the last of her kind and is content to live out the remaining of her life in her small town. She has lost the love of her life and has no plans to move on, no matter what the town plans. They believe that it is time for her to move on and have plotted against her to help find a new love. She scoffs at their foolish tactics and squashes every trick they pull. She was not prepared for the likes of Taggart though. Taggart de Gaelson has searched high and low for Hannah and will do everything but kidnap her to bring her back to her rightful home, Taroc Na Mor. After meeting the tiny woman and dealing with her, he is reevaluating his grand plan. She is strong willed and stubborn, but he hasn’t lived as long as he has to let this little spitfire ruin his plans and the future of his people. Let the battle of wills begin. Eternity’s Mark has a totally new feel for me. It had simplicity to it, yet the details of the world building were imaginative and striking. The story was complex as a whole but while reading Eternity’s Mark I was never confused or lost. Ms. Greyson has developed a fascinating new universe filled with fantastical creatures built around a beautiful and imaginative legend. This is an extremely easy read. While the romance had a strong presence in the story, the history of the Draecna is what caught my attention. This is by no means an explicit sexual novel. Ms. Greyson has written a sensual love story that captures your heart. It is a very sweet touching tale. I did find some of the conclusions in the story too quickly resolved with “aha” moments that had me scratching my head thinking “how in the world did they come up with that”. The foundation of the story was strong, but it just missed something to bring it on up to the next level for me. Eternity’s Mark is a good story to read if you want something sweet and entertaining. A very pleasant read, with sexy Scotsmen, an amazing alternate world and a break your heart love story. Oh yeah and dragons too!
Review Of Eternity's Mark By Maeve Greyson I totally got sucked into Maeve's book Eternity's Mark. It was a unique story with very likable characters. The way she sets a scene and her attention to detail is amazing. This book was so hard to put down. It had my attention from beginning to end. Hannah McPherson is a very strong woman. She is a grieving widow who doesn't feel she will ever be at a place where she can ever love another man again. Taggart de Gaelson comes to Jasper Mills to persuade Hannah to come with him to see a castle in Scotland that she has inherited. Did I mention that Taggart hasn't told Hannah yet that she is the sacred Guardian to magical dragons called Draecna. Once Hannah and Taggart get to Scotland I love how the whole story unfolds. From how Hannah reacts to the news about being a Guardian to how quickly she finds herself in love with Taggart. There is never a dull moment. Did I also forget to mention that Taggart harbors a very personal secret. A secret that could change the very foundation of his relationship with Hannah. Can you say oh my goodness (insert any g word you prefer....lol)! I would say more but I really don't want to ruin this story for anyone. Maeve does a phenomenal job telling her story. My new mission is to get my hands on her book The Highlanders's Fury. I am so a fan of hers now. I feel Eternity's Mark has something for everyone. On a scale from 1-10 I give Eternity's Mark a big 10. If you are a fan of true love, mythical creatures, adventure, and an all out great story than this book is for you. Everyone adult 18+ or even a mature 17 year old (just because there is some hot sex in this book....^_^) must pick up a copy of Eternity's Mark. Let Hannah and Taggart's story transport you to Scotland through their love.
While Publishers Weekly is a periodical I respect, they don't determine my preference in books. I've followed this story from its first conception to Maeve's winning the contest. Inexplicably won? I'm sorry. Publishers Weekly, I respectfully disagree. I was there. I saw the development of the entries Ms. Greyson competed against. I can't wait to read the rest of this this one. Thank you, Maeve...and Kensington! ~Donna