Welcome to my home on the web. You may have noted the mountains in the banner are the misty Blue Ridge of North Carolina. Did you know time traveling Highlanders live there? Curious about the big cat? Florida panther~from the Crimson Storm paranormal novel, Sea Panther.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Excerpt Wednesday - Time for a Raid - Just Beyond the Garden Gate by Dawn Marie Hamilton


This week's except is from the novel that started the series. Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first tale in the Highland Gardens series...
 
 


Patrick drummed tense fingers on the table, ignoring most of the discussion going on around him. His insides boiled. How dare Lamont take out the argument over the disputed marriage proposal on the MacLachlan clan?

He glanced at the men sitting at the two long tables stretched out in front of him and the others standing around the chamber. This was his family, and he’d failed them. His fervent denial of a marriage contract between himself and Iain Lamont’s daughter Isobell brought them to the precipice of this hostile confrontation. Yet a feud with the Lamonts had existed for generations. The recent raid was only the most current act of treachery.

His gaze drifted to the ceiling, his thoughts on the chamber above. The chamber his precious Laurie slept in, his bedchamber, the one where Ruari now lay unconscious.

Patrick took full responsibility for what happened to his herdsmen. If only he’d agreed to Iain Lamont’s demands—married Isobell—Ruari wouldn’t be lying in the bedchamber above, insensible from a bang on the head. And the others wouldn’t be dead.

Lamont had prodded him ever since Patrick lost his father. This time the man pushed too far. Patrick would have to retaliate. It was an issue of honor. This latest infringement couldn’t be left unpunished. It was a matter of his clan’s survival.

Was he wrong? Should he break his oath, marry Isobell, and hope in doing so, he’d end the feud? It wasn’t that Isobel was undesirable. She’d make someone a good wife. She possessed a fine dowry and was comely. But he felt nothing when she was near. Certainly not the burning fire he experienced with Laurie. Isobell had no warmth. She was like cold stone. He’d never even had the desire to steal a kiss.

Archibald thought him daft. Repeatedly, he reminded Patrick of her value. After all, she was the co-heir of Iain Lamont. Now, that was the problem. How could he be expected to marry her? He believed her father responsible for his parent’s disappearance.

And possible death? No, he wouldn’t consider the possibility.

When he learned his parents had gone missing while chased by Lamont clansmen, he swore from that day forward Iain Lamont was his enemy. He vowed never to agree to a marriage between the two clans.

He raked his fingers through his hair. What of Laurie? What was he to do about his lass from the future?

Stephen poked his arm, interrupting his contemplation. “The full moon is two days next. ’Tis the best time to raid.”

“Aye. A good time for a raid,” Jamie agreed, a brutal grin spreading across his face.

“’Tis not the time to raid.” Donald pinned Patrick with his gaze. “Marry Isobell. End the dispute.”

Patrick glared at his uncle. “I will agree to marry the lass on the day my father stands afore me and requests it of me.”

An anxious hush fell across the chamber.

“You cannae yet believe your father alive. If he were, he would be here with us now.”

“For all I ken, he and my sweet stepmother suffer in Lamont’s pit,” Patrick said, his tone sharp.

Across the chamber, Aine’s husband Angus stood, slamming his palms flat on the table. All gazes shot to him. “Leave off, Donald. ’Tis time we seek revenge for the insults wrought by the Lamonts. I say we raid.”

Most of the men roared in agreement, raising fists and shouting. Donald glowered. His gaze circled the chamber from man to man. “Decided, is it? You will rue this day.”

 
   
 

 

Just Beyond the Garden Gate

Amazon : Barnes&Noble : Apple

 

 



Hope you enjoyed this wee snippet from Just Beyond the Garden Gate, a Highland Gardens Novel.

 
~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Excerpt Wednesday - Pursued - Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton


An excerpt from the winter novella, Twelvetide, Twelve Nights of Highland Magic. Free for Kindle - January 12th, 2017 through January 16th, 2017 at Amazon...
 
 


...they crossed a great snowy meadow. Before reaching the protection of the forest, they caught the first glimpse of their pursuers. Five mounted men, approaching fast.

“Shite.” Cael spurred the horse to greater speed.

They entered the forest trail and galloped out of sight. She kept glancing back, around Cael’s bulk. As they rounded a bend, he leaned forward, his mouth close to her ear.

“They want me. Not you. When I drop you to the ground, run for that distant copse of firs and hide. I will lead them away.” Cael’s brusque words sliced her heart. He would forfeit himself for her.

“No. We should stay together.”

“Listen to me, Ashley. Hide in the trees. Wait for some time to pass. If I have not returned, follow this trail west. The same direction we are riding. Stay out of sight at the edge of the trail. When you reach Castle Lachlan, beg hospitality in my name—Caelan Innes. Once within the castle walls, ask to speak to the steward and request of him an audience with Lachlan Og, the clan chief. Tell Lachlan Og you are my wife. Tell him we were ambushed, and I led the miscreants north. I have been of service to him. He will see to your care.”

Before she’d a chance to argue with the damn man, he lifted her with his one strong arm, and dropped her into a ditch at the side of the trail. Breathless, gasping, she rolled to her knees and gulped air. Fear gnawed at her belly. The thunder of several horses pounding the trail, sent her into action. She leapt to her feet and darted into the trees Cael had indicated.

She crouched behind a wide trunk. Just in time. Placing a palm against the rough bark, she leaned to the side and peeked through the thick, evergreen foliage. Four riders passed in earnest pursuit of Cael somehow without seeing her footprints in the snow.

Shit! Where was the fifth? Birds had stopped chirping when she entered the copse. Silence grated on tense nerves. Twigs snapped nearby. The billowing breath of a horse sounded overly loud, close. Another twig cracked.

“I ken you are in there. Come out.”

   
 




Grab your copy from Amazon.

 

Free for Kindle 1/12/17 - 1/16/17 

 


Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from Twelvetide, Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.

 
~Dawn Marie  

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Excerpt Wednesday (Sneak Peek) - The Pixie Clan - Just Within a Highland Mist by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 
 
A sneak peek ( an unedited excerpt) into 'Just Within a Highland Mist', a novella, the next tale in the Highland Gardens series...
 
 

Suddenly a hart wandered from the brush twenty-five yards upwind of Gregor’s spot. The animal hesitated for a moment, mobile ears listening, sensitive nostrils testing odors in the air, then lowered his head and nibbled the tip of a leafy branch. Not just any hart, but a sixteen-point white stag—a mystical beast. Could the animal be real? Gregor closed his eyes; rubbed them. When he looked again, the animal was still there, browsing.
 
Breath quickened; excitement fired his blood.
 
He slowly, very quietly, raised his bow and nocked the arrow, praying he wouldn’t spook the deer. The stag raised his head, ears perked. Eyes on the mark, Gregor drew the arrow steadily back until his right forefinger touched the spot on his jaw perpendicular to his right eye. He glanced along the length of the shaft, his aim perfect.
 
A lavender-winged dragonfly landed on the spine of the arrow just behind the hand that held the grip. One with iridescent green wings landed forward of the handgrip. A third buzzed his ear.
 
Lips curving into an annoyed frown, Gregor held the bow and arrow with one hand and shooed the bugs away with a wave of the other. His luck held. The deer continued to feed. As he prepared a second time for a clear shot, one of the bugs returned and perched on the arrow again. Stuck its tongue out at him. He jutted his head forward to better inspect the—
 
The bothersome creature stood on wee feet. Nae. Couldn’t be. She had wee feet, wee arms and hands, and a curvaceous body draped in an iridescent purple fabric the same color that outlined her lavender diaphanous wings. She raised a dainty hand and tucked an ebony tress behind a pointed ear and smiled at him with rosy lips.
 
“What trickery is this?” he demanded.
 
Tee teehee hee, the pixie tinkled like delicate chimes.
 
The stag skittered, leapt over a thicket, and dashed into a copse of trees.

   
 

 

Coming Winter 2017

 

 

 


Hope you enjoyed this wee sneak peek into 'Just Within a Highland Mist', a Highland Gardens Novella.

 
~Dawn Marie  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - 'Tis Kissin' Season - Just Wait For Me by Dawn Marie Hamilton



'Just Wait For Me', the fourth tale in the Highland Gardens series...
 
 

Several hours passed before they broke free of the forest. The noonday sun warmed her shoulders. They climbed a hillside with a scattering of cheerful yellow blooms.

“Lovely, is it not?” Stephen said.

Jillian jerked a surprised gaze in his direction. They were the first words he’d uttered since leaving camp this morning. Maybe he felt cranky, too.

“Yes, I’m surprised to see gorse in bloom this late in the year.”

“Always some in flower. My ma used to say, when the gorse is in bloom, ’tis kissin’ season.” He laughed and his blue eyes twinkled. “You should see the golden hillsides near Castle Lachlan in springtime.”

She stared at his lips, wanting to kiss that sexy mouth. But then she glanced away. Hopefully, she’d be home in North Carolina way before spring.

“I will miss you, lass,” he said as if reading her thoughts.

She twisted toward him. “You will?”

“Aye,” he said, gravely.
 
The horses had slowed and Jillian tried to read the emotion in his eyes, getting lost in their depths. She would miss him, too. More than she wanted to admit. Perhaps, if only he—

   
 

 
 

Just Wait for me at Amazon

in e-book and in print.

 

e-book for Nook.

 

 


Hope you enjoyed this wee snippet from 'Just Wait For Me', a Highland Gardens Novel.

 
~Dawn Marie

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss by Dawn Marie Hamilton

My author friend, Terry Spear, challenged me to write a short, very short story inspired by a holiday picture of my choosing for her blog. I’m also sharing the wee tale here. If you’ve read Just Wait For Me from my Highland Gardens series, you met a young lad named Tevin in the epilogue. He appears again in the upcoming novella, Just Within a Highland Mist, coming Winter 2017.

In A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss, this very short holiday tale, Tevin is all grown up and working as a Santa’s helper for the holidays at Foxgloves, the garden center owned by his mother Jillian, and her two partners…




Melinda had always wanted to be a Santa’s helper. At twenty-five, it seemed like a silly childhood dream.

Snowflakes danced on the breeze, landing on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She shivered and sipped from the red ceramic mug she’d just purchased at the garden center’s gift shop along with hot cider. The owners of Foxgloves were Scottish and all the greenery was decorated with tartan ribbon and bows.

Wandering past rows of Christmas trees, the sharp scent of fir, along with apple and cinnamon from the cider, reminded her of Christmases long past. She missed her family. Felt alone in this new mountain town.

In the center of the display garden, a Christmas village had been erected. Young men, dressed in kilts and tunics and wearing elf hats, used hand puppets to entertain children waiting their turn to sit on Santa’s lap and give the white-bearded man their Christmas wish lists.

Melinda couldn’t help but ogle the guys’ muscular legs exposed to the chilly air. She’d be covered in goose bumps if she—

“Lass, would you be so kind as to help me with a medieval skit?”

She lifted her gaze from a firm pair of masculine legs, up a tight body, to very kissable lips that broadened into a grin. Blue eyes glinted with humor. Heat burned her cheeks. And it wasn’t from the steam rising from the red mug.

“Aren’t you cold?” she blurted. “I mean, of course, I’d be happy to help.” Gosh. She sounded silly.

“My name is Tevin,” he said.

“Mine is Melinda.”

“Pretty name.”

He handed her a puppet depicting a faerie princess and another a fair maiden and introduced her to the crowd as Santa’s Helper Melinda. She then joined him in an improvised skit where the faerie princess bestowed magic powers upon a warrior who slayed a dragon and won the hand of the fair maiden.

The children clapped.

“That was fun,” she said as they walked away from the Christmas village to a secluded picnic table.

“It was.” He pulled a flask out of his sporran. “I’m finished for the night. Would you care for some whisky?”

“Um. Sure.”

He poured a small measure of the amber liquid into the red mug and handed it over. She sipped the drink and smiled. How could she let him know of her interest in him without feeling a fool?

Tevin took the mug from her hand and drank from the spot her lips had touched. “I like the taste of your lips. May I?”

The intent glowing in his eyes near to burned her. Her stomach shimmied. Still, she nodded.

His arm encircled her waist; drew her close. The touch of his lips against hers was soft. Gentle. Stole her breath. Became demanding. She dropped the empty red mug into the snow and wrapped her arms around his neck, surrendering to the magic of his Christmas kiss.


Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!



~Dawn Marie

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - The Legend Behind the Romances - Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 
The legend behind the Enchanted Highlands romances...
 
 

THE MAGICAL GARDEN OF TRUTH


In ancient times, when dense primordial mists swamped the glens and swirled about the mountains of the Celtic world—when giants and dragons dominated the earth—the council of gods decreed that nary a one among them, should take another as concubine.

The god Holly and the goddess Ivy could not deny the love blossoming between them and, hidden within a lush forest flanked by black sided mountains, became intimate lovers. When the god Oak discovered his longtime rival possessed a weakness in Ivy, he exposed to the other gods the location of the lovers’ trysts. The attack and resulting battle led to the capture of Holly and Ivy. In retribution for the lovers’ defiance against council edict, the couple was prosecuted and condemned. Ivy agreed to give up her godly powers and become mortal to save Holly from a more harrowing fate, if, and only if, they might be reunited when three couples of purest heart found forever love through time with their fated soul mate. The likelihood of such seemed impossible to Ivy, but she found solace in the chance of a future with Holly.

Devastated by his loss, Holly planted a berry-bearing holly tree within the forest he’d once enjoyed with Ivy, deep in the Black Hills of Scotland, so whenever Ivy saw the shiny green leaves and red berries, she would think of him and remember his commitment to their love.

Oak continued to challenge Holly during the equinoxes each year. Oak to reign from March through August. Holly for the remainder of the year. Although at his strongest on the winter solstice, Holly remained alone, missing his Ivy.

Lost in a world not her own, Ivy sought refuge amongst a band of humans to whom she taught the lessons of the gods. The people became known as the enlightened ones, or Druids. They worshiped the land and listened to the whispers of the wind—listened to words of wisdom about love, death, and rebirth. They celebrated light, and the winter solstice came to be a magical time, a time when the veil between the earth and the realms of the supernatural thinned.

To others, the solstice came to be both a festive and fearful time.

Upon Ivy’s death, the furtive Druids established and nurtured a garden surrounding the holly tree planted by Holly and named it the Garden of Truth. They have nurtured the garden through wars and famine and times of plenty and still care for the garden this day. From within the soul of the holly tree, magic blossoms and grows in power, gaining strength for Ivy’s rebirth.

Over the centuries, the legend of the Garden of Truth has been the subject of many tales—some true, some not—passed on by word of mouth and although often interpreted differently, the magic holds true for those possessing a pure heart. ’Tis said, if one gathers nine holly leaves and wraps them tight, using nine knots to bind them, and places them beneath their pillow, their dreams will come true.

From the Enchanted Highlands comes the first of three tales of time travel romance intertwined with the magic of the season and forever love—Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.

   
 


 
Hope you enjoyed the legend behind the novella Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.
 

Twelvetide at Amazon.

 

 



Other books from the Enchanted Highlands Holiday Collection:

Stars and Stones
By April Holthaus
 
Once Upon a Winter Solstice
By Victoria Zak


~Dawn Marie


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Excerpt Wednesday - Caelan Awaits Ashley's Return - Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton


An excerpt from a special holiday novella, Twelvetide, Twelve Nights of Highland Magic...

 
 
In-between
 
Cael hadn’t kenned that the moment of death for a life cut short would begin a repetitive cycle of loneliness stuck within the in-between, only able to cross into the hidden garden maze when the veil thinned and ripped.

A ghost. He’d become a wretched ghost.

Since meeting the wee lass, he’d haunted the maze during each Yule hopeful Ashley would visit with her family to attend the festivities and he’d catch a glimpse of her as she grew to womanhood. He rubbed his empty chest over the spot where his heart would beat had he been alive. He’d kenned all along she wouldn’t come until the time was right. Still, he’d roamed the forsaken place year after year, ever yearning.

He’d sensed during the waning autumn the time neared for her return. The veil thinned, though not fast enough to suit him. Over the years, he’d never once doubted her commitment to their promise. Movement on the other side of the misty, diaphanous fabric separating the earth from the realms of the supernatural made him jounce on his heels with excitement.

There! Ashley stood beside the dolphin fountain—a newer addition to the ancient Druid garden. The maze wouldn’t appear until the solstice, but she had come as promised.

Freezing rain fell, yet still she’d come. He hoped she didn’t catch a chill from the foul weather. In one hand she held a lantern to light the way. With the other, she lifted the hood of her coat and covered her hair, but not before he noted its luster. He wanted to run his fingers through the dark brown locks the color of the finest sable fur, imagining their softness. A flush reddened her cheeks and her firm lips curved in a pout. He wanted to kiss those lips and wrap his arms around her and feel her life-giving force.

Cael could do none of that. He made a fist then flexed the fingers. For all the saints, he was a ghost. An apparition without substance. Yet Durrell had assured him on Ashley’s earlier visit that the wee lass held within her heart his destiny.

Her amber gaze darted from place to place in search of something. Likely the maze, which wouldn’t appear until the exact moment of the solstice.

Too soon. She’d come too soon.

Ashley turned toward the gate to leave and his chest tightened in panic.

Please don’t go!

She spun back as if she heard the words in his head. Kenned he stood there. Impossible. The veil hadn’t thinned enough. Not yet. He could do naught but watch in disappointment as she frowned, shook her head, and walked away.

When the Druid woman appeared, the vise on his chest loosened. The light-bearer would guide Ashley to him. ’Twas their destiny.

However, another obstacle awaited them. Durrell, the gatekeeper, had also revealed the elders required Cael to make a sacrifice. Nae matter. He would do whatever they required.

 


 
Hope you enjoyed this wee excerpt from the novella Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic.
 

Twelvetide at Amazon.

 



~Dawn Marie