The Beltane Escape

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Blurb

Lady Fenella, Thaness of Thorburn, has no idea her fate is shackled to a powerful sorceress. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave. But a spell cast forward to sixteenth century Scotland finds Fenella and leads to her being branded, stolen, and betrothed. Traumatized and separated from her clan, the Highland heiress finds an unexpected ally in her kidnapper’s son. But their fragile romance is tested when the Lady of the Lake lures Fenella’s cousin into Fairy. Fenella has seconds to decide. Should she remain with Edward, or should she dive into Fairy to rescue her beloved cousin, endangering her clan, and abandoning Edward to his ruthless father?

Excerpt

 Trapped within the doeskin pouch, Merlin’s spell book pulsed like an angry heart. Viviane, the young Lady of the Lake, pushed her qualms aside and knotted the stolen treasure to her waist. An eerie quiet settled over the woods. Either the tree spirits sleep, or they watch me in silence, Viviane surmised as she carefully surveyed the canopy. Knees quaking, she deftly concealed the pouch beneath her cloak, then ran. Shallow breaths caught in her throat, and a sharp pain needled her side as she quickened her pace. She pressed her hand against the twinge and kept running. With each pounding stride, the prize slapped vehemently against her hip.

Viviane chanced a glance over her shoulder. Hah! No sign of Merlin. In her arrogance, she stumbled, her heel catching on her long indigo cape. Her heart cartwheeled. With an oath, she righted herself. Ahead, the Enchanted Forest’s dark mantle ended, and gloaming’s early light shone. She bolted towards the dawn.

Dry pine needles crunched beneath her deerskin sandals. The spell book’s muffled rage beat louder, waking a nearby tree spirit whose angry screech roused others. As one, they grabbed at Viviane with their prickly branches. A wizen-faced pine scratched Viviane’s cheek, stirring the creature marked into the skin above her cheekbone. Agitated, the blue sea serpent threaded itself around the crescent moon inked near her eye. Its nostrils flared, assessing the danger. Viviane shoved the impudent branch away. Catching scent of the lake, she broke through the trees. Her lungs heaved as an ache bloomed between her shoulders where the tree spirits’ angry glares thrust against her.

Viviane ran to the coracle moored at the water’s edge. The woven willow boat creaked when she scrambled into its hull and drew in the rope. Her long gown and flowing cape pooled around her as she crouched. Clutching the boat’s wooden sides, she commanded, “Hasten to the isle!”

The water surrounding the boat surged, forming a current that propelled the craft forward. A flock of startled grebes took flight, their wings thrumming.

“Mist, cloak me from Merlin’s sight.” Viviane arced her arm above her head. Her prisoner pummeled against her hip. But the spell book’s blows were futile and inconsequential.

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