||November 15, 2011
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This is a tale of one woman's revenge for her murdered family and the Scottish laird who offers to aid her. Danger and deep secrets threaten not only to end their love, but also their lives!
When Ailis O'Brien's family is murdered in the Highlands, she vows to find the murderer and repay the blood debt. Though not of his clan, Laird Gavin MacPherson vows to aid her. Will their growing love fill the emptiness in their hearts or will a talisman shatter it forcing them to choose between love and vengeance?
Scottish Highlands A.D.1570
A terrified scream pierced the quiet of the Highland forest startling Ailis O'Brien. That was her sister Jenny's voice! Dropping the firewood she'd gathered in an old blanket, Ailis ran back through the woods toward the traveling wagon she shared with her father and sister.
The fading light of twilight hampered her as she hurried through the thick undergrowth. Limbs and roots appeared out of nowhere slowing her progress. The screams stopped abruptly filling Ailis with panic and she couldn't run through the forest fast enough.
Flames lit the area as she burst free of the trees and ran into the clearing where her family had made camp. Sweet Mother Mary, their wagon was on fire! For a moment, the silence of the night was broken only by the sharp snap and crackle of flames as they began to climb up the front end of the wagon. Then she heard a man's harsh shout and the sound of a horse's hooves retreating in the distance. She glimpsed a man in a tartan plaid riding away. Frantic, Ailis shouted, "Da, Jenny, where are you?"
Ailis' heart pounded in her throat as she forced herself to climb into the back of the burning wagon to search for her family. She tripped just inside it and looked down. Her father's body lay in a crumpled heap. Grabbing his tunic to pull him to safety, she felt a sticky wetness and stared down at her fingers. They were coated with blood. Dear God, he was dead!
But where was Jenny?
The smoke was getting thicker. Coughing, Ailis stumbled through the wagon until she found her. "Jenny!" Her sister lay naked; her neck broken.
Dear God, no! Not her, too!
Something clutched in Jenny's fingers caught Ailis' eye. She pulled a strange talisman on a leather thong from her sister's hand. Jenny must have pulled it from her murderer's neck. This would prove who killed her father and sister. She would find its owner and avenge her family!
Coughing and gasping for breath, she jumped from the wagon as her skirt caught on a flaming timber, setting it ablaze. Oh God, she was on fire! Tossing the talisman from her, she tore at her clothing, freeing herself of the flames. Naked and dazed, she watched the inferno burn out of control. Grief and rage overwhelmed her and she began to scream.
Later, she came to her senses. The wagon and everything in it was nothing more than a large pile of charred, glowing cinders.
Her family was dead! Murdered.
She looked down at her nakedness and saw the strange talisman at her feet. Pulling it over her head, she stumbled into the woods. She would find the murderer. Aye, no one would stop her from avenging her family! The glow of the cinders faded as she found the old blanket, tore an opening in the center and slipped it over her head. Pulling it down around her, she staggered further into the forest.
Within minutes, it began to rain. Her foot slipped on wet rock and she pitched forward. The last thing she felt was her head hitting the ground.
Deborah presents a story of Scottish Highlands in 1570's with luscious details of daily life; a strong, handsome sexy hero who is the Laird of his Clan and lands; a feisty heroine who popped up out of nowhere, strong, courageous and absolutely certain that the hero killed her family when she was away from their wagon. The heroine is dead set on revenge, but first she must prove it finding the man who's missing his Talisman she found in her dead sister's hands. No easy task.
This story is filled with struggles, murder, revenge, love, anguish, insecurities, jealousy, kidnapping, anger, pride, what Scottish Highlands looked, felt, and smelled like in the 1500's plus a love scene that makes your eyebrows curl with it all culminating with a lovely ending.
Fascinated with historical romances, I love learning how, where, when, why they lived the life they did. Projects an air of placement and knowledge. Deborah did this very well, even including a Glossary of language used in the 1570's for the reader.
A must read. Enjoy!
Having truly enjoyed Deborah's first book, Highlander's Bride, (it's on my keeper shelf!) I was happy to learn she had written another. And once again, Deborah doesn't disappoint.
In The Talisman, the book's hero, Gavin, is to die for! If only we could all have a man that hunky, sexy, good-natured and strong. Sigh. And after the tragedies and hardships the heroine, Ailis, encounters, he is exactly what she needs. Gavin is a vivid compliment to Ailis's strong will and feisty nature.
Besides the strong sexual tension and romantic storyline of the main characters, Deborah does a great job intertwining a murder mystery and secondary character relationship into the book. Her setting and world-building skills are quite impressive. The detailed descriptions and authentic dialogue she uses make 16th century Scotland come alive.
I truly enjoyed the read, Deborah! I can't wait to read You're in Good Hands with Al Tate next!
A must read for any lover of highland romances! It is so well written. The story is easy to follow and the characters are very believable. Many times I find that 'highlander' tales that are written using spelling that infers an accent lose me along the way, they become complicated and I have to constantly reread passages but that is not the case here. There is just enough included to remind you were the story is set without being overwhelming. Definitely one of my favourite authors.
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