A Laird without a Past
(Secrets of Clan Cameron)
by Jeanine Englert
Publication Date: July 25, 2023
Genre: Historical Regency Fiction, Scottish Historical Romance
Escape to the Scottish isles with this rugged Highlander
His past is forgotten…
Can his mysterious healer unlock his future?
When Royce wakes with no memories and suddenly blind, his situation seems dire. The only thing he remembers is being attacked by shadowy figures…but not the beautiful woman who came to his rescue. Now Iona MacKenzie’s every touch drives Royce wild. But when news of a manhunt for him reaches them, Royce must uncover his past if he has any chance of saving himself—and the woman he’s falling for…
From Harlequin Historical: Your romantic escape to the past.
Purchase Link: Amazon
Context: In Chapter 4, Royce Cameron sits in the sand on the coast of Lismore, Scotland beside a sweet dog named Jack. He is wrestling with accepting his new life when he wakes blind remembering only his name and being attacked at sea. When Jack alerts to strangers approaching, the village healer, Iona MacKenzie, who rescued him from drowning helps to hide him from the other villagers.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 of A Laird without a Past:
Royce gripped the wiry fur of the dog beside him. Rage coursed through his blood. While he couldn’t remember who he was or why he was here on this little isle of Lismore, he couldn’t imagine that any of this was to plan. He was blind with a solitary scrap of memory to claim as his own. All he knew for certain was he didn’t belong here and he was alone.
He chided himself. Well, he wasn’t entirely alone, was he? He had this beast of a dog and a woman hellbent on saving him even though he wasn’t quite certain he wished to be saved at all. He was a burden, plain and simple. Why couldn’t the woman see that?
He ran his hand down Jack’s fur and the dog sighed against him.
‘Aye,’ Royce whispered. ‘She is set on saving me, isn’t she? Is that what happened to you, too?’
The dog licked his face and Royce smiled. ‘I know I should be grateful to be alive. I’m just not ready to be.’ For now, all he wanted was to be angry about his situation. Very angry.
He breathed in the smell of the sea, the sweet grass, and the dampness of the air. A storm was coming in. That he knew. But how did he even know it? Why could he remember and know such trivial bits such as when the weather might be turning, but not his full name or what he even looked like? Did he have dark or light hair? Was he tall or short? Did he even like dogs or did he prefer horses? He scrubbed a hand down his face. Did it even matter? His stomach growled. Well, one thing he knew for certain. He was starving. Heaven knew the last time he had eaten.
Jack stiffened against him, his thin muscular body suddenly tense. Royce stilled as well and listened, but he heard nothing. Jack nudged his snout under Royce’s shoulder once and then twice before standing and barking, alerting to some unknown danger.
Another dog barked in the distance, answering Jack’s alarm, and then Royce heard it: the voices of men. They were too far off for him to be able to distinguish their words, but there were many.
Something was amiss.
‘Come inside!’ Iona called, her voice drawing nearer until she was at his side. She placed a hand upon his shoulder. ‘I know not what they want. I get few visitors for I live far away from town. Make haste!’ she hissed close to his ear.
‘Why do I need to run from them? They may know who I am,’ he said, confused by her alarm. ‘They could help me.’
‘Trust me on this.’
Something in her voice made him heed her warning.
He scrambled up and she grasped his hand. The feel of her strong yet delicate palm against his own tugging him urgently along set his pulse racing. Not much seemed to ruffle the woman, so her urgency concerned him. He hustled along as best he could, knocking into her side at one point, as she led him stumbling across the sand and up a hill back into the warmth of the cottage. He tripped over the small lip on the door threshold and crashed into her, sending them against the wall of the cottage with a thud.
Her soft form pressed full against his own, reminding him not all of him was dead and not everything he knew about life had been erased. Attraction and desire flashed through him at the feel of her soft hair against his cheek and the smell of the light floral scent of her skin. His hands lingered longer than they should have along her torso and he felt her breath hitch.
Too soon, she extricated herself from him. He heard the door close and the latch drop.
‘You must hide.’ She clutched his hand and dragged him along, his knee crashing into the bed corner, and he cursed. ‘Careful,’ she murmured a bit too late.
He rubbed his knee and stumbled beside her.
‘Crouch down behind the bed and I will cover you with a quilt,’ she ordered.
‘Who are they?’ he asked as he felt for the bed and slid to the cool floor. ‘Why do I need to hide? I have done nothing wrong…that I know of.’
‘Townsfolk often mean no harm,’ she whispered. ‘But few ever come to see me and there seem to be a pack of them, so something is amiss. And I’d rather hide you than find out too late that it is you they seek.’
‘Why would it matter if they found me?’
‘It might not, but they have the hounds with them. That only happens when they are searching for someone lost or someone dangerous. They may believe you are neither…or both for you are a stranger to us.’
He gripped her wrist. She still wasn’t answering him. ‘Why would it matter?’
‘We are a small isle and the men here are fiercely protective. Even of a woman such as me.’
His brow knit in confusion. A woman such as her? What did that even mean? ‘Why would they not be?’ he asked.
‘Shh. Trust me. Hide.’
Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a VIVIAN® and Golden Heart® Finalist as well as a Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery. Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at http://www.jeaninewrites.com.
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