Today, the limelight falls on Taken, by Angeline Fortin. In this time-travel romance, an actress from the twenty-first century is whisked back to the early sixteenth century. She finds herself transported to the wilds of Scotland in the run-up to the devastating Battle of Flodden. But just how is a modern woman to deal with a medieval Scottish Laird?
Taken in the limelight . . .
* * *
By Angeline Fortin
From the cover:
Second chances are only helpful if you recognize them for what they are.
Celebrated actress Scarlett Thomas never wanted fame — that was her parent’s dream. Now she’s ready to make big changes, but she could never have imagined how big those changes might turn out to be. Returning to the medieval Dunskirk Castle, where she filmed The Puppet War trilogy, she encounters an old Scotsman named Donell who directs her to an ancient claymore that sends Scarlett slipping back 500 years to a time when her modern struggles are dwarfed by a far more dangerous conflict brewing between Scotland and England.
Scottish Border lord, James Hepburn, Laird of Achenmeade, is a man at loose ends. The illegitimate son of the auld King’s illegitimate daughter, he has no place in his father’s home and no freedom to forge a future of his own. When war with England is again looming on Scotland’s horizon, James must not only fight for his country but do so while trying to battle his growing attraction for a slender, sassy lass who tempts him to defy his sire and his King.
As the days pass, bringing them closer to war and to each other, Scarlett and James discover that their differences are not so profound as their similarities and that the 16th century and the 21st century do not diverge so much in what truly matters most. They try to fight against their growing attraction, but when they are confronted with the opportunity to live their lives freely, as they choose, will they seize their second chance before the Battle of Flodden separates them forever?
Before it’s too late, will Scarlett realize how lucky she was to be taken by a Laird?
"Where are you taking me?" She yelled this time, and then screeched out the words at the top of her lungs when she was ignored once more.
Laird pulled his horse alongside of her, looking larger and even more menacing atop a great black beast that incredibly was bigger than her own. Despite herself, Scarlett was momentarily cowed into silence. She didn’t know they made horses that big… or men for that matter. "Where are we…?"
"We travel to Crichton to find out who ye are."
"Crichton? What is that?"
"Cease yer prattle, lass, or by God’s might, I shall be tempted to gag ye for the journey," he barked and drew on his reins, turning his mount around and leaving her. Scarlett twisted about in the saddle, bedeviled enough to yell at him once more.
"Hey! Come bac-"
Any other words she might have had caught her throat with a gasp of horror.
The castle – or a good portion of the five-sided goliath — was gone.
Scarlett shook her head and blinked hard but the vision remained.
It made no sense. No sense at all.
In fact, her mind blanked entirely as she watched the building recede in the distance, trying to process what she was seeing.
And what she wasn’t.
Most of Dunskirk Castle had disappeared.
All that remained was the massive westerly tower where the armory exhibit had been, a portion of the keep and a shorter curtain wall. It was like she was seeing the castle as it had been a century ago, before fairy tale façade had been added.
But where had it gone?
Where had it gone?
Cold sweat prickled at her skin as her heartbeat accelerated, pounding nauseatingly against her ribcage. She dragged in a painfully shallow wheeze and then another as her head swam dizzily. A horse whinnied close by and Scarlett stared dazedly at one of the kilted men as he rode by, his eyes narrowing on her with what might have been concern though he said not a word.
That rough faded kilt, the short leather boots and the sword at his side. Then there was their odd language. The fighting… with swords, no less. It was outlandish but it all might be easy enough to explain away. There could be a renaissance fair nearby. There might be some historical reenactment going on. There could have been something some logical reason for them to be out and about as they were.
Hell, they might all have been escapees from a nearby mental facility, for all she cared.
But they could be explained.
Scarlett turned back again, wide-eyed.
The castle though…
That one was tougher.
Their caravan reached the end of the drive to the castle where by all rights an ornate gatehouse and towers flanking a stone arch should stand.
The horses hooves ground against the graveled path that marked the way to the village center. Gravel, not the smooth concrete of the highway. Tall grass waved at her from the open field where the local high school should have been.
Unless sheep had taken to grazing on the golf course to the right, it was gone as well. As was the bustling town she had come to know so well over the years. No inns, no library. No fire station. No pubs. Well, pubs plural. One lonely tavern was all that remained.
No rubble. Not even a small pile of stone to save her from insanity.
Unless alien invaders had somehow surreptitiously vaporized half the castle and three-quarters of the village without catching anyone’s attention…
Yes, that would have been bad.
This, this was worse.
~ ~ ~
"Are ye well, my lady?" Rhys pulled up alongside her horse, drawing Scarlett’s wild stare. Around her, all the mounted men around her began to take notice of her panic. Some eyes widening, others narrowing worriedly at the hyperventilating, crazy woman they had taken prisoner.
One even crossed himself.
Personally, Scarlett didn’t think prayer was going to help any of them.
Denial warred in her frantic thoughts for an explanation. Any explanation, but her mind was quickly becoming little more than a yawning dark void of horror. "I think I’m going to be sick."
Rhys nodded sympathetically. "Hae ye been ill long then?"
"Why do you all keep asking if I’m ill?" Even to her own ears, the question was a piteous moan. "Do I look sick?"
Eyes looked her up and down and Scarlett could see he was restraining a nod. "Hae ye no’ then?" he asked instead. "Yer to thin and wan. Yer hair shorn and walking aboot in yer bedclothes. What else might we think?"
Too thin? Wan? "Bedclothes?" Dumbly, Scarlett looked down at her white maxi dress once again. To whom would it look like nightgown? Or rather, when would it have looked like a nightgown? Not too long ago really. Early twentieth century even. Maybe the 1950s?
Casting a glance about at the dozen men around her once more, Scarlett was fairly certain that she wasn’t going to be that lucky. "Ah, since I am so obviously out of it, right now. Would you mind telling me the date?"
"Hae ye suffered so long ye cannae ken the time that has passed?"
"Apparently not," Scarlett muttered to herself.
"’Tis the fifteenth day of August, my lady."
Scarlett nodded, biting her lip. True enough. But…
"And the year?"
Her breath caught and held as the question she tried to convince herself didn’t need to be asked popped out anyway.
Rhys lifted a brow warily. "’Tis the year of our Lord, fifteen hundred and …"
The blood roared in her ears, drowning him out. Fifteen hundred? Fifteen? Oh God! This was bad, so very bad. Either she’d gone completely around the bend, her captors all had, or her worst fears had been realized.
A warm hand touched hers and Scarlett flinched, casting a terrified look at Rhys before struggling to regain her composure. "My lady? Lass?" His soft brogue was filled with concern. "I pray that dinnae come as a great surprise for ye, my lady."
The bitter burn of bile rose in the back of her throat but she swallowed it back with a grimace and shook her head woodenly. Insanity would have been preferable to the alternative, but the truth was undeniable. After all, if you eliminate the impossible…
Scarlett gasped for air, dragging in a ragged breath.
Damn. Sherlock-ed by logic.
How? How had it happened? Beyond Sci-Fi, no logical explanation was readily available. Even searching within the genre, she would be hard put to unearth a reasonable explanation.
How then? There hadn’t been any blue police boxes about. No mysterious, bow-tied ‘doctors’. No big balls of ‘wibbly, wobbly, time-y, wimey stuff.’
Scarlett’s stomach knotted, threatening a revolt despite her better efforts to remain calm.
"Are ye well, my lady?"
She really wished he would stop asking her that.
About the Author
Angeline Fortin is the author of historical and time-travel romance offering her readers a fun, sexy and often touching tales of romance.
With a degree in US History from UNLV and having previously worked as a historical interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg, Angeline brings her love of history and Great Britain to the forefront in settings such as Victorian London and Edinburgh.
As a former military wife, Angeline has lived from the west coast to the east, from the north and to the south and uses those experiences along with her favorite places to tie into her time travel novels as well.
She is a PAN member of the Romance Writers of America, Midwest Fiction Writers and Romancing the Lakes.
Angeline is a native Minnesotan who recently relocated back to the land of her birth and braved the worst winter recorded since before she initially moved away. She lives in Apple Valley outside the Twin Cities with her husband, two children and three dogs. She is a wine enthusiast, DIY addict (much to her husband’s chagrin) and sports fanatic who faithfully cheers for the Twins and Vikings through their occasional highs and average lows.
Most of all she loves what she does everyday — writing. She does it for you the reader, to bring a smile or a tear and loves to hear from her fans.
Follow Angeline on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr and Pinterest. Or send her a message at email@example.com.
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