Sometimes when the idea of love is shunned because of preconceived notions, pain and suffering ensue, taking the lovers down pathways that ultimately still lead them to each other.
In Fourteenth Century England, landless knights are forced to obey the ruthless monarch without question. Sir Andrew Brandham, knight of the Realm and captain of the Elite Guard of Ragnorsen Keep is called to do just that. When his best friend, Sir Erik Ragnorsen is commanded to nullify his marriage to the beautiful Rhianna Du Montefort because they have yet to produce an heir, Sir Andrew accompanies him to do battle with the will of the king. Erik is being forced to marry the daughter of a Scottish Laird in order to form a tenuous Peace between the Highlanders and England. The idea of divorcing his beloved wife to marry a loathsome Scot is beyond Erik’s vow of obedience and honor. He is imprisoned for his impulsive disobedience and Drew is left to form a scheme to save his friend. When he sees the Scottish lass who has been chosen for Sir Erik, he is instantly drawn to her and while his plan unfolds to aid Erik, Drew forms a friendship with Bronwyn, daughter of the Laird and High Chief of the Clan MacCollum.
Bronwyn MacCollum was raised in the Highlands, where the past is steeped in traditions of the “Old Ways”. A long time ago, Bronwyn had a vision of her intended, but realizing he was an Englishman, she vowed to change her destiny. The English were always the enemies of her people and she would not bring danger to her beloved clan. Only, she becomes a pawn in the sadistic game of the King of England and Robert the Bruce and is being forced to marry an English knight after all. Upon seeing the man she is betrothed to, she knew her vision had been false because he looked nothing like the man who had invaded her dreams since childhood. With vehement disregard for the king’s decree, she declares her hatred for Sir Erik Ragnorsen and would rather risk war than to marry him. Only, when she meets Sir Erik’s personal guard, Bronwyn realizes that sometimes you cannot fight what is destined from the start. Sir Andrew Brandham was familiar; more than familiar. He was the man of her visions and nothing she could do could make her deny it.
Bronwyn and Drew are filled with distrust and betrayal seeps into both of their hearts. They suffer through many storms that batter their hearts and souls like rocks at the edge of the tempestuous sea. Can their love survive the lies and heartache they are each guilty of? Can Bronwyn escape the Destiny and the pull of the Old Ways and create a path without Drew or will love help them both to embrace the course Destiny has chosen?
The mists enveloped her as she stood at the crest of the rise, causing a chill to pass through the young girl recently turned woman as she waited for the Ancient One to finish her supplications on her behalf. It was the old custom to spend the night on the precipice as womanhood blossomed newly in her body. So many of the old ways were lost now, but the Old One had made a promise to the girl’s mother to teach her the rites of old. This was her passage rite from childhood to womanhood and she vowed to be brave.
The Old One finished the draught that would induce the dreams that many young girls dreamed on this night of nights. After uttering the last invocations in the ancient tongue, she gave it to the girl to drink. With trembling hands, she took the vial, praying that the Old One would not have poisoned her. The noxious looking fluid seemed to swirl with strange colors as she lifted the potion to her lips. Oddly, it was not odious to taste. The girl swallowed it down in one gulp and waited to feel different. She watched the Old One eyeing her and she realized she did not feel different at all. She did not want to tell the woman that the draught had not worked. It would be best to let the Old One think she had conjured correctly rather than to make her think she had failed the girl and the promise to her own mother. As if reading her thoughts, the Old One spoke. Her voice was soft, despite her many years.
“Dunna’ doubt it, girl. It will work.”
How did the Old One do that? She always seemed to know what she was thinking. She always knew when she was somewhere not fitting for a girl to be. The old woman walked around the girl, with her arms stretched out. The girl thought she was dangerously too close to the ledge of the outcropping. She feared the old woman would teeter and drop over the side.
Again, the woman pinned the girl with a knowing look and she continued her circle around her. Finally she said, “Ye’ will dream of the one destined for ye’ to marry. Ye’ must ne’er forget him, for he is yer’ future. Ye’ may doubt it to be so, but I have seen it in my visions. Sleep now, and wait for him to show himself.”
The girl settled herself in her cloak amid the pine needles on the hard ground. She sighed. It was going to be a long night. Beside the changes in her body causing her discomfort, it was a particularly cold night on the ridge. She wondered if she would even sleep at all, let alone dream, but as she felt the warmth of her cloak wrapped about her, she felt strangely sated and drowsy. Breathing the scent of the pine needles in, she seemed to succumb to her dreams in mere moments.
~ He was tall. She could see that as he rode toward her, standing in his stirrups. She should have been frightened because he was clearly not a Highlander. Instead, he turned and flashed a smile that lit his handsome face. How oddly he was dressed; not wearing a plaid of her clan. In fact, he was not wearing a plaid at all. His legs were clad in leather trewes, that were so form fitting, they looked like his flesh itself. His leine was very much not Highland attire.
To her horror, she realized he was a Britton. She was sure of it. She had heard the stories of his kind, murdering and raping her people. Yet, when she looked at him, she could sense that he seemed to want no harm to come to her. She stared at him as if she was a dullard. He was handsome. Some would say he was beautiful. She waited for him to scoop her up and take her to be ravaged, for these English were monsters. She knew what they were capable of.
She had dallied overlong in the village and was walking back to her keep as the sun began to set. In hurrying back to the keep, she had not realized that this stranger was approaching. By the time she realized there was an English monster in her village, he was upon her. She thought he would run her down or worse, take her to be violated. Just when she thought he would snatch her up into his saddle, he nodded and smiled again. He rode past her swiftly and as she watched him ride off, he turned to smile at her one more time. Their eyes met and she felt her heart stir. Something made her gasp as she looked at him. There was something important about this man. She was supposed to know what that was. Then, somewhere in her subconscious thought, she was aware that she was still on the mountain rise. She was drawn back to her past, for this was her future.~
Was Morag right? Was that man him, the one she was destined to marry? Was she still dreaming? She felt she would never forget him, even if she never saw him again…and then she woke up.
Her heart was hammering wildly. The first rays of morning were warming down on her through the boughs of the towering pine tree overhead. She blinked. It had been a dream. It was just a dream. Then as the realization of what she had seen in the land of dreams and magic came to her, she was sickened in horror.
No! It could not be. She would never wed a man who was an enemy to her people. Too many had died at the hands of the English. This was not her destiny! She wanted to cry. It had to be a mistake. Her young heart nearly broke at the thought of being wed to a raping, murdering Englishman. She made the vow to never wed if it meant not bringing this evil to her land.
Morag watched the young girl who was her charge and she saw a gamut of emotions play across the beautiful face of the maiden. So, she had seen him, too.
WE HAVE ONE SET OF EBOOK COPIES OF RIA CANTRELL’S “CELTIC STORM” SERIES (CONSISTING OF “CELTIC FURY” AND CELTIC TEMPEST”) TO GIVE AWAY, PLUS ONE EBOOK COPY OF CELTIC TEMPEST, PLUS THREE BEAUTIFUL BOOKMARKS. TO WIN, ENTER AT RAFFLECOPTER AND ANSWER THIS QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS:
About the Author
Ria grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. She has enjoyed some very exciting endeavors in the past including competing as a figure skater, dancing professionally as a belly dancer and singing as a classically trained vocalist with auditioned chorales as well as working as a soloist.
She began writing at a very young age and even had some of her early poems published in local literary magazines. Frequently, she would be seen carrying notebooks to scribble many of her stories and poems. As far back as she can remember being able to write, even in grade school, Ria began putting stories and poetry to paper. She was influenced by some of the great Romance writers of the past, including Beatrice Small and Jude Deveraux, to name a few. She remembers writing her first “steamy” stories as a collaborative effort with her best friend back in high school. These stories were lovingly called “Cabin Scenes” because they typically were staged in cabin and country settings.
With a love for history, Ria was fascinated with Medieval and Renaissance history and found herself drawn to participate with re-enactment groups that re-created the Middle Ages. Since fostering her love of all things medieval, Ria’s stories soon became flavored with Medieval and Renaissance themes.
Ria is a hopeless romantic. She married the love of her life after a long-distance courtship, spanning two continents. She now lives in the sunny tropical paradise of Southwest Florida with her English rock-star husband. The two share their love for music and writing. They perform together locally and they collaborate on writing endeavors.
Ria’s first book, Celtic Fury, was published in October of 2012, with the prequel being released in May of 2013. Currently, Ria is working on the third book of the Celtic Storm Series, called Celtic Spirit.