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Present Day, Scotland
Abigail Cross walked from her hotel and breathed deep the fresh, somewhat chilly Highland air. The sun was shining, finally, which was a nice change from the past week where drizzle and endless fog had shrouded Druiminn, the small Scottish town where she was staying. It had seemed a lot larger on the travel brochure.
She pulled her coat up around her neck, her choice of jeans and a woolen sweater had been a sensible decision. Probably her best yet, since this vacation had been anything but fun. Never again would she jump on a plane and fly halfway across the world. Salem, Oregon, and the plain boring life she led there, suddenly seemed fun-filled and exciting.
Not to mention a little less wet ... and that was saying something, since Salem was anything but dry.
Abby shook away the thought that her vacation was a waste of time. She was in Scotland, for heaven's sake. The place of myths and legends. Where the filming of fabulous historical movies were shot, sporting men in kilts ... and little else. Her own ancestors hailed from this part of the world. Not that she knew of any still living in Scotland, after her great, great — so many greats she no longer knew — grandfather had emigrated to America.
The weather, the expense — one she really couldn't afford, that would take years to pay off, no longer signified, for today she was determined to enjoy the magnificence of the Highlands. Not let the darkening clouds to the south scare her back inside the hotel she'd come to know intimately. Castle Druiminn was her destination. A step back in time, a castle and home to the MacLeod Clan, where treachery, missionaries, and mayhem should've been the family's motto.
She walked up the main street of the town and entered the bakery. The air in the warm store was filled with the aroma of cooking bread and spices. She bought some chocolate frosted croissants before continuing on her way to the castle.
It was a bit of a walk, and Abby took her time enjoying the view of heather, and rolling hills, and craggy rock faces, as she continued toward the castle. On the opposite side of the road, the beautiful Isle of Skye glistened in the sun. The sense of belonging to this land coursed through her. Scotland was in her blood, her ancestors had survived living in the lowlands for years, had raised children, fought the English, disease, and a harsh environment she couldn't even begin to imagine.
It was a humbling thought and for once, the tinge of red that streaked through her dark hair didn't annoy her, but filled her with pride.
Scotland was magnificent.
She gazed down on the information map she'd acquired the week before, noting that the castle was only a five minute walk through woodlands and ocean view lanes. She was relatively sheltered from the elements up to the point where she walked over a rise and the sea breeze buffeted her. She blinked rapidly as her eyes watered from the icy gale.
She really should've bought the more expensive jacket, instead of scrimping, but her poor credit card really couldn't take too many more beatings.
The path followed the line of the beach, and she came to a sign that stated the Square Walled Garden was up a little lane, but a small, quaint cottage caught her attention. The building was made of stone, a similar color to that of the buildings in town, but looked like a one-room structure with a chimney. Grass grew on the roof, making the house blend into the environment like some modern "green" home. A small garden grew in front with a whitewashed picket fence surrounding it.
For its age, it seemed relatively sturdy and in reasonable condition. She stood staring at it and wondered at its history. Who'd lived here? Who had built it and why? Was it haunted?
She chuckled and said hello to other tourists heading toward the castle which was her next stop.
Walking up to the door, she read the sign that explained the cottage's past. It was part of the Druiminn Castle estate and believed to be the Apothecary's or healer's building. She peeked around the door and was met by darkness and the smell of dampness.
"Hello? Anybody here?" Abby stood at the threshold for a moment, but hearing no reply, she pushed the door open and entered. Inside was a plain square room, with an unlit fireplace and a window beside the door. The floor was covered in flagstones, years of dirt and dust making up its mortar.
Abby walked around and wondered what the building had seen over the years. How it must have been set up to help those in need. How many babies had been birthed here, children healed, and people stitched up?
Looking out the window, she sighed. Rain fell, the dark clouds to the south had arrived earlier than she'd hoped. Well, at least in the cottage she was dry, if not warm.
She sat on the window ledge. There was nothing else for her to do but wait out the storm and hope it passed quickly. It was an overly ambitious thought. The weather had been miserable ever since her arrival. Why would it change now?
Her hand slipped against something cold, and she looked down to find a small vial. It was bottle-like shaped with a neck and looked to be made of clay.
Abby picked it up, studied it a moment before placing it back down. Nausea spiked in her stomach and she clutched her abdomen, trying to calm her breathing. She gasped and stood, dizziness threatening. The room spun, voices, faces — she couldn't comprehend. What is happening to me?
Fear froze her to the spot. She tried to fight her way to the door, but the room turned at an increasing rate, making it impossible to leave. Something bad was happening. Something she couldn't control.
She screamed and then hit the floor with an oomph before blackness enfolded her.
"Abigail, are ye well?"
Abby opened her eyes, the stone floor beneath her back seeping coldness into her bones. She sat up and looked about. The memory of what had happened to her was as clear as the woman sitting before her. Smiling at her like some long lost friend.
"Who are you?" She sat up and scooted away from the girl — woman, she corrected herself — as the stranger stood and Abby was able to get a better look at her. She was tall, and well into her twenties.
"I'm Gwen MacLeod. I summoned ye."
"What?" Abby rubbed her hand and looked about the room. The empty, lifeless building she'd walked into was now full to the brim with bottles with different colored ointments. Herbs hung from the ceiling, some freshly picked and others dried. A roaring fire burned in the grate and a pot hung over it, cooking some sort of food that smelled nicer than anything she'd tasted since landing in Scotland.
"What do you mean by 'summoned'?"
"Please, don't stress yourself. I promise I can send you home. Eventually, mind ye. Just let me explain."
Abby narrowed her eyes. The woman's Scottish dialect was strong, and yet she spoke clear enough that Abby could understand what she'd said. "Are you going to hurt me?" There was no way in hell she was hanging around here if this summoner wanted her in the pot of stew now bubbling in the grate.
"I would never hurt ye, I promise. I'm a healer, a forward-thinking woman who likes to study other spiritual beliefs. But that declaration must stay between us, if ye don't mind. Only my family knows of my gifts, and I would like it to stay that way."
Abby stepped toward the fire, spotting a large iron pole beside it. If only she could reach it without being obvious, she may have some way of getting out of here. Although, where she'd go was another question altogether, if she was in fact no longer in the twenty-first century.
"Very interesting, but I fail to understand why you've summoned me here. And where is here, exactly? What have you done?"
The woman's cheeks flushed in what Abby assumed to be embarrassment. Well good. She should be embarrassed. Dragging people out of their lives, supposably, for who knew if this woman was speaking the truth, was unacceptable. Not to mention dangerous.
"Ye are in Scotland in the year of our Lord, 1601. At my home, Druiminn Castle. This cottage is where I tend to our people, and heal them."
Abby took another step. "1601." She rubbed her temple, a headache forming behind her eyes. "I can't be in seventeenth century Scotland. Everyone died of disease or was slaughtered in battle, male or female. I've seen Braveheart. I've learned all I need to know about this time and I don't want to stay here. You have to send me home. Now." Abby craned her neck to look out the window, but couldn't spot anyone to give her a sense of what was real or make-believe.
The woman stared at her a moment before laughing. "I knew ye would be perfect. I've been watching ye for some time, although I had to wait for ye to be in Scotland before I could bring ye back." She clapped her hands together and thunder rumbled outside.
Abby slid her hand around the pole and held it up in front of her as she walked to the window. The view made the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Where there was once a garden before the cottage, now there was nothing but a few herbs and a rugged path.
The well-defined gravel walkway she'd used to get to the cottage was gone, in fact, trampled grass was the only indication that people walked this way at all.
This isn't good. "I demand you send me home. Now. This very instant. You've gone too far and I don't know what you think I'm going to be perfect for, but I'm not having any of it. So, unless you want me to do something I might regret later, you'll do as I ask, right now."
Gwen's shoulders sagged, and she held out her hands to stall her. "Please, I really don't mean ye any harm. Just let me explain."
"You have exactly ten seconds to explain, and then you can send me home." Abby glared to emphasize her point. The woman seemed to get it.
"Ever since I was born I've had the ability to see things, not of my own time unfortunately, but places, events, well into the future. All my life I've known of ye, as you've grown, so have I, even though we were born centuries apart. I feel like I know ye verra well."
"That's all very nice for you, but what do you want from me? I don't belong in this time. I'll probably be slaughtered the moment I walk out that door by some English army who hates everything Scottish. Or some Highlander lord with a penchant for killing innocent women with axes." Gwen laughed and Abby waved the pole.
"My brother the laird must marry and produce a child as deemed by our father's dying wish. My brother will proclaim any day now his intention to marry. You, Abigail Cross, are perfect for him and must marry the laird as soon as ye may."
Abby dropped the pole and then scrambled to pick it up. "What, that's crazy! I'm not marrying some barbaric, filthy Scottish laird. There may be some hot historical romance novels out there sporting lairds with delightful packages under their kilts, but it's fiction. Your brother probably never bathes, has bad breath, kills on a whim, and demands obedience from everyone." Abby started to pace. The absurdity of the situation made perspiration break out everywhere. Great, now I'll smell as well. "Do you know what century I'm from? What year? I can't be here because you decided I would make your brother a good wife. I need to go home. Now."
Gwen paled, and Abby was glad of it. The troublemaking witch needed to back the hell off and send her home.
"I can't. Not right at this moment. Magic doesn't work that way. You've traveled through time, Abigail. To send you back straight away could leave you stranded in some other time that isn't your own. I'm sorry, but for the time being, you must stay."
"What am I going to do? I'll stick out like a sore thumb. I mean, look at me!" Abby gestured at her clothes. "I think you'll agree what I'm wearing isn't appropriate for the period." The nausea was back and Abby searched for a bucket, anything she could vomit in. Not seeing anything of use, she opened the door and ran out into the claiming dusk, right into a solid mass of muscle.
She stumbled back, this was going to hurt and she'd had about enough of today, but suddenly two large hands wrapped around her arms, saving her dignity and pain.
Abby looked up and up and up some more and felt her mouth open on a sigh. Holy sweet Jesus, who is this?
He stared at her, his gaze narrowed and brow furrowed in disapproval. Abby pushed back a little, bent over, and heaved all over his boots. She distantly heard a curse, but she was beyond caring. Darkness swamped her, and with it came relief. Maybe the heathen Scottish Braveheart holding her had shoved a knife in her heart, putting her out of her misery.
Aedan MacLeod looked down at the lass asleep in one of the guest chamber beds and cursed. "What the hell do ye think you're doing, Gwen? You've used magic to bring her here? Are ye daft, lass?"
His survival instinct roared to be rid of her and the magic that surrounded her, a beacon for anyone who suspected them of such. The gifts of the MacLeod clan were a blessing and a curse. Should anyone discover their powers, all would be lost, including his head. And he was rather fond of his head exactly where it was. The lass needed to go home, and soon.
"It'll be fine, Aedan. Ye worry too much. No one will ever find out about her. As soon as she wakes, I'll explain to her why she's here, and she'll understand. I promise she'll not cause ye any trouble."
"And what is it that you've brought her here for? I'm interested to know myself." His sister's inability to meet his gaze made his stomach churn. "Gwendolyn, what has your scheming mind been thinking up?"
She sighed. "She's perfect for ye. Strong-willed, independent, and alluring." His sister gestured at the woman. "I thought if you got to know her a little you might form an attachment and have a handfasting ceremony."
"That's no reason to risk our lives. I want the truth. Why her, and not a lass from our time?"
Gwen sighed and slumped in a chair. "I know you've been showing interest in Aline Grant, and I'll not have it. Surely, you know of the rumors that follow the lass. That she's slept with half of Scotland and no doubt, half of England, as well."
Aedan had heard the rumors. Though with a brother like Evan Grant, a hawk hovering over Aline's every move, he'd not believed them. But his sister's dislike of the girl, a disappointment, to be sure, wouldn't stop him from marrying who he needed to. "She's chaste. I'm certain of it, or I wouldn't be considering her."
His sister met his eyes and compassion flickered in their depths. He grit his teeth, not at all liking when his sister looked at him like that. "Do you not see that this Abigail lass resembles Gail? It's almost as if she's been re-born hundreds of years from now."
He held up his hand, having heard enough. There was no bringing back the woman he'd loved as a lad. A girl who'd grown into a woman who matched him in every way, until a fever in her sixteenth year had taken her life.
Looking down on the lass once more, he studied her. Aye, she was similar, in coloring and looks to Gail, but she wasn't what his clan needed. "Whoever I choose, sister, whether it is Aline Grant or a lass from an allied clan, she'll bring our family coin, a good name, and valuable men for our forthcoming battle with Clan O'Cain."
"Forget the O'Cains. What's done is done, and you're no use to any of us dead. And we're not in need of coin or what Aline could bring to our home. You are not always correct in your path through life, brother. You do not have to sacrifice your future happiness for the safety of your people."
Aedan rounded on his sister and only just remembered he wasn't allowed to kill the girl. Of all the idiotic foolery she was talking. "I'll hear no more of it. My decision is made. And if it hasn't escaped your notice, dear little sister, we have half of the Highland families bearing down on us right at this moment, for the Highland Games. They'll be bringing their daughters for me to choose from. This woman could tell everyone of our acquaintance what we're capable of. What if she wants to go home to her time? What year, pray, is she from?"
"She's from the twenty-first century. Twenty seventeen, to be precise."
"Och, you're mad, lass, and we're doomed. When she wakes up, you need to send her back immediately." Aedan ran a hand through his hair and started to pace. "We can't have her running around the castle grounds screaming about what you've done. If the clans hear of this magic, even I cannot save you, or myself, from certain death. You'll be labeled a witch, and rightfully so."
Excerpted from "To Conquer a Scot"
Copyright © 2017 Tamara Gill.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved Abigail and Aedan's story!! I think Abigail coped pretty well to being pulled back through time against her will. Her strong willed personality was a bit much for Aedean to take. Woman just didn't act that way in his time. It did help that Aedean knew that Abigail had been brought from the future, so she didn't have to try and hide that from him as I've seen happen in other time travel stories. One of the things I enjoy about time travel stories is watching the person who traveled, trying to navigate the new time period. The differences between what Aedean thought was proper behavior for a woman and what Abigail felt was proper, caused many antics along the way. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
I love time traveling romances, especially when there’s a sexy Highlander involved but this one just didn’t do it for me. It took me a little bit to connect with the characters in the beginning. I was a little surprised that Abby took to her new surroundings so fast. There was no, “I’m dreaming. This isn’t real”, she just knew she’d been pulled back in time. Now, I hate it when a character fights it tooth and nail for pages upon pages, but a little pause from Abby would have been nice. I mean, if I was teleported back or forward in time, my first reaction would not be acceptance. However, once Abby got settled into her role as a distant friend of the Laird’s, I started to connect with the characters a bit. I loved that even though these two had an attraction to each other, they knew nothing could come of it. However, the conflict that the author brought about was a little annoying and boring at times. Not only did you have the whole time-travel thing, but of course there was a simpering way-too-young girl who was hoping to secure a marriage with Aedan, and to top it off there’s an angry Laird from another area who mistakes Abby as his runaway betrothed. While the simpering girl didn’t bother me, the continuous, “you are her!” “I am not her!” conversation that went around and around and around for chapters was very tiresome. I got it, this guy really thought Abby was his betrothed, but I could have done without the loop of dialog that we seemed to have gotten stuck on. I will admit, I skimmed over all those pages after a while because I was tired of reading the back and forth of it all. Not only did I feel like a lot of that could have been cut out, but the ending was not my cup of tea. I don’t understand what the whole point of it was. I feel like the whole thing could have been scrapped and the story could have ended with their engagement. It just seemed unnecessary and left me, again, a little bored. While I had some issues with this story, I still enjoyed it. I loved Aedan’s character, even when he was brooding. I loved how he was willing to give up his love for the sake of his people. He was a very strong character and was always looking past his needs and his wants to what those around him needed. I also liked that Abby, while horrible with archery, was able to hold her own among those of Aedan’s time. While I did enjoy my time with this book, I do not plan to continue with the series.
3.5 stars Transported into the past by a well meaning source, Abigail finds herself toe to toe then eventually heart to heart with a handsome, mountain of muscle, master and commander of his Scottish clan, Aedan MacLeod, who just happens to be seeking a wife so he can continue to carry out his dutiful duties as Laird. You know things are not starting off well when the hero, at least for a second, considers dragging the heroine off into the forest she happens to be wandering nearby and killing her so she wouldn’t bring accusations of witchcraft to his clan. Fortunately, it was supposedly just a fleeting thought. I must admit it had me questioning if this hero and I were going to hit it off, folks. Up until about 70%, the plot was engaging, and I hung on to every word as these two destined to be together, adversary lovebirds danced around each other and tried to deny their attraction. With other women circling around Aedan hoping to be his chosen bride, it was hard at times to sit by and watch the flirting commence. Especially after the main couple finally spend a night together, and Aedan bestows a public kiss upon Aline, the heroine’s main competition, the next day. Up until this point both of them still seemed to be set upon the notion Abby wasn’t a wife contender and would be leaving sooner rather than later. Well, after the point I just mentioned, the spell was broken for me. The plot started to feel like it had lost its purpose. The next 10% were all very graphic smexy scenes. The highlight was at least they were finally a couple, and things were looking up. It should have ended there, my fellow romance book-loving friends. Needless to say, it didn’t. I just didn’t particularly buy into or enjoy how the rest of the storyline went, especially the continued other woman drama. The last 30% drastically affected my opinion of this story. Title: To Conquer a Scot, Series: Time-Traveler’s Highland Love (Book 1), Author: Tamara Gill, Pages: 291, new to me author, handsome Laird hero seeking a wife, sassy 21st century heroine, adversaries to lovers, time travel, very smexy scenes. (I received a free advanced reader copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. No type of compensation was given to this reviewer. There is no relationship/affiliation between the reviewer and the author/publisher/NetGalley.)
Aedan, Laird Macleod has two sisters, Jinny and Gwen. Gwen has a touch of magic in her and she decided, her brother needed someone special. So she brought Abigail Cross across time from the twenty first century to the seventeenth century, for him. She was his soul mate. I did shed a few tears, when they got separated. Everything about this tale was wonderful. The characters, the descriptions and the plot. The plot was unusual and there was a lot going on but it was exciting, fun and very racy. There was battles, a vicious female, some nice ones also and so much love. .I enjoyed the camaraderie among the Scots and the family members. The support they gave to each other. I hope you like this book as much as I did.
It's quite an interesting story, but then I've always loved time travel romance. ;) Who doesn't like Scotland? The story starts with a little mystery. It intrigued me right from the beginning. I wanted to read more and find out exactly what is going on. All the characters are very well written and well developed. I quite liked Abigail and also Aedan. Both are stubborn, headstrong, and willing to fight for what they believe in. Aedan is looking for a bride. Preferably someone who knows her place and will do his bidding quietly, as well as give him the respect he deserves as Laird. It's very important that he marries soon and marry well. His clan's future might depend on this decision. So he is not prepared for his sister to interfere with such well laid out plan. But apparently his sister has plans of her own and soon Aedan will realise that what he wants and what he needs are entirely different things. Abigail is visiting Scotland for the first time. She just needs are break and also desires to soak in the history. But weather hasn't been too kind so far. But the she suddenly finds herself in a different time. It's so hard for her to believe what is happening but one thing is for sure; she doesn't belong here and she must return to her own time as soon as possible. Aedan and Abigail never thought that they will fall for each other. But fate has other plans for them and soon they will realise that staying apart may not be possible for them. They are meant to be or so Gwen thinks.... I quite enjoyed this historical romance with time travel. I think the story is quite intriguing, although few chapters before the ending seemed pointless and little boring but then maybe it was because I read the whole book in one sitting and story seemed to be dragging. Maybe I should've taken my time with this book to enjoy it more. Nevertheless, I still loved it and would definitely recommend it to historical romance's fans.
Time-traveling isn’t what Abigail Cross had in mind for her Scottish vacation, nor was a potential marriage to the Laird Aedan Macleod. The fact that the obnoxious, yet hot, and definitely sexy Highlander sees the world very differently than she does, is beside the point. Aedan Macleod knows what he wants in a wife, and Abigail certainly doesn’t meet his Highland standard, even though he must rein in his desire, because beautiful, opinionated Abigail would never suit as a laird’s wife. Tempers flare yet passion is undeniable, as Abby navigates her way in seventeenth century Scotland—without toilet paper. When two rival clans threaten the maddening twenty-first century minx who’s captured Laird Aedan’s heart, the mighty Highlander is willing to sacrifice everything to keep Abigail safe. Review: In this first installment of this series we get to know Abigail and Aedan. Abigail is brought through time by Aedan's sister to be a bride to him. I will start with saying that there is some not liking each other at first. Aedan needs a wife, but neither him nor Abi want it to be her. Of course they grow on each other and it was lovely to read that slow build-up for these two. **spoilers coming up** sorry I hate to do that but I could not figure how to relate my likes without giving away some things The story is an exciting and entertaining time-travel romance. I liked that the story was written in a style that grabbed my attention and kept me reading. I loved the witty dialogue, that had me laughing at times. I ran the gamut of emotions reading this book, have some tissues ready, just a warning. I was sad when Abi is thrown back to her time, and very angry when she gets back and Aedan had not waited for her, but the ending leaves you happy and was very satisfying. Of course, the story has is spicy, sexy elements too. Abi & Aedan are very sexy together and the chemistry is off the charts. There is a lot of action in this story too, with fighting clans and really bad guys. I hope I did not ruin the book for anyone. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and cannot wait to see where the series leads. 4Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
Tamara Gill is a new author for me and it was an amazing first experience. The fact that she is also an Aussie author was just a bonus! In To Conquer A Scot we have modern day Abigail Cross involuntarily drawn back to 17th century Scotland by the Laird’s sister, Gwen, who believes Abigail is his perfect match. Gwen believes that her brother, Aedan, has suffered and given up too much to secure his clan and believes Abigail is the only person that can save Aedan from himself. This writer has penned a book that is truly a page turner. She has a truly engaging, and thoroughly addictive writing style. Her world building is very well done; describing life in 17th century Scotland accurately enough to be credible but tweaked sufficiently (for example: the fact that she is readily accepted as a time traveller and not immediately burnt as a witch) to allow the story to move on and develop at a good pace. Both the main leads and the secondary characters are extremely well developed. Both Abigail and Aedan had their own personality strengths and foibles which only made them come alive on the paper because despite their flaws, or perhaps because of them, they were both genuinely likeable characters. The secondary cast were also developed as much as was required by the story. There didn’t feel to be any one dimensional, or paper cut-out characters, no matter how minor their role. Everyone was an individual. There were a few suspense, action, and angst scenes in this book, enough to have a few ‘how will they get out of this?’ moments and to keep the pace of the book flowing and lively, but not too many to detract from the main purpose of the book and that was a character study of the development of the characters and the relationships between them. The only thing I found missing in this book is the character of Jinny. So many of the thoughts and actions in this book revolve around her and the terrible assault she suffered by a rival clan. Although we learn that she has retreated to a convent, it would have been nice to meet her at some stage, no matter how briefly. However, I’m hoping a conversation between Aedan and Abigail later in the book is a hint of a happy ending for Jinny in a future book. Overall, I was completely enamoured with my first Tamara Gill book, I could not put it down until it was finished, and I’ll certainly be checking out her other titles. *Advanced Reading Copy received in lieu of an honest review