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A Novel by Anita Davison
Genre: Victorian Historical Romance
Release: September 23, 2011
Editor: Nancy Bell
Line Editor: Ellee Braun
Cover artist: Delilah K. Stephans
Carrie Gordon's season in her native York was an unqualified success, until the young man who paid her so much attention married someone else.
When her family takes a summer trip to her father’s ancestral home in the Scottish Highlands, her handsome Scottish cousin, Duncan McRae, takes an immediate dislike to Carrie, mainly due to her father’s plans to refurbish Cair Innes castle which is in need of extensive repair beyond the means of its present owner and resident, Iain McRae.
Carrie feels the vacation will be a disaster until she discovers a strange young man while exploring the derelict castle, However, she soon learns Ruairi McRae is not what he seems, and the battle he intends to fight was lost by his clan a hundred and fifty years before.
Will Carrie be able to accept that she cannot be part of Ruairi’s world? And when the Roma arrive to camp on Bucks Meadow as they do every summer, who is the beautiful gypsy girl Duncan won't talk about?
Disappointed Carrie’s first foray into the castle wouldn’t be a solitary one, she gripped the door ring and twisted hard. The door swung inward with hardly a creak, and she paused on the threshold to survey the interior.
A curved stone staircase reached to the next floor of a two-storied entrance hall with a massive fireplace at one end. A small balcony sat at the top of the stairs like a miniature gallery. Small windows high in the walls barely penetrated the gloom, leaving the corners in shadow.
“Are you just going to stand and stare? Let’s have a proper look round.” Beth said.
“You’re spoiling this for me, Beth. Have some patience.” Carrie negotiated the raised step into a cold, damp entrance that smelled of mildew and ancient flowers.
At intervals along the walls hung lop-sided iron sconces, heavy with globs of yellow wax from long-burned candles clinging to the metal.
Carrie’s tentative footsteps moved across the gritty flagged floor, while Beth’s resembled a rhythmic march as she systematically examined every corner and peered up the chimney. She ran her hand across a window sill and pulled a face.
“It’s really dusty in here.” She lifted her fingers away with a grimace and wiped them surreptitiously on her skirt.
Carrie exhaled slowly, summoning patience. “What did you expect? It’s been practically deserted for fifty years.”
“I suppose it is impressive.” Beth slapped one of the solid walls with the flat of her hand. “To think this was where Papa’s mother was born, and her father before that.”
“Last night, Uncle Iain said Cair Innes is where the McRae souls belong.”
Beth sniffed. “We’re Gordons, not McRaes.
Ignoring her, Carrie ventured through a doorway into another empty room, where the plaster in one corner had crumbled away to expose the floor supports of the room above. A canopied stone fireplace stood at one end, its hearth strewn with bits of old wood and desiccated leaves.
Beth strolled to the window, which gaped empty of glass, like an open mouth onto the lake. She leaned her forearms on the sill and poked her head through.
“Oooh, look! The lake comes right up to the castle walls down there. It’s as if we are floating on the water.”
“Come away, Beth before you fall in,” Carrie warned.
Beth sighed, but did as she was told, displaying her resentment at being told what to do by poking a pile of dried leaves in the corner with the toe of her boot.
Above the fireplace hung a blackened, carved shield with a blurred Latin inscription beneath it. The flurry of a disturbed bird in the chimney made Carrie jump. She tugged her shawl tight around her shoulders against the chill.
“There’s nothing here, Carrie,” Beth spoke from behind her. “We may as well go back to the lodge.”
Carrie swung to face her. “I thought you liked history. You’ve had your nose in a guidebook since we left London.”
“I do.” Beth’s gaze probed the hallway. “I like rooms arranged as if the occupants are due to return any moment.” She gave an exaggerated shudder. “This place is old, damp, and creepy.”
“You can leave, if you like. I’m staying a while longer.”
“And I’m cold.” Beth rubbed her upper arms and made for the door, her skirt swaying above the tops of her buttoned boots. “I’ll see what the stables have to offer.”
Relishing her regained solitude, Carrie wandered back into the entrance hall to peer behind another door in the corner. Smaller than the others, it opened to a flight of narrow stone steps with a frayed rope handrail that curled downward into the bowels of the building.
Assuming what remained of the kitchens lay at the bottom, Carrie was about to descend into the darkness when a sound above made her pause, listening.
Is someone else here?
More intrigued than nervous, she climbed the curved staircase, the treads of which dipped in the middle from thousands of footsteps, to the tiny balcony overlooking the entrance hall like a miniature stage. A narrow window looked onto the courtyard, and off to the right lay a short hallway with light patches on plaster walls where paintings had once hung.
At the end, a wooden door stood ajar. Carrie’s pulse thrummed in her temples as she extended a hand to widen the gap, but before she made contact, it swung open.
“Coom in,” a male voice said.
Reviews: coming soon
Also by Anita Davison:
In Stock: 99
Customer Reviews:tche1478 (Saturday, 26 November 2011)
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