Title: Escape to the Highlands, Book 2 (The MacKinnon Clan Series)
Author: April K. Holthaus
Genre: Historical Romance
Published By: Self-published, Create Space
Story Setting: Spring, 1298 in England
About The Author: April has come to her love of history through researching her family tree. She was able to take the tree back to the 1100s, finding over 350 bloodline grandparents. Her roots come from Ireland, England, France, Poland and Sweden. Her new passion, writing historical romances, comes from her love of both history and genealogy.
April is now writing the third book of The MacKinnon Clan Series which should be published this summer. The series to date:
The Honor of a Highlander, Book 1
Escape to the Highlands, Book 2
Highland Dreams, Book 3 (publishing summer 2014)
April lives in Minnesota. She and her husband are expecting their first child in a couple of months.
For more information about April you can follow her at:
About The Story: Jacqueline Reynold, an English woman, would have rather been a nun than be married to Lord Charles Wessex, but she had no choice. The day she was to marry, a group of Scots came to the castle to rescue their Scot comrades from the dungeon who had been caught stealing the King’s horses. When she saw the men fighting, she decided to aid the Scots. There were just young boys in the dungeon. She’d heard what happened to some of the boys already today. Quickly, she retrieved the key and let the boys out telling them to run. Her brother’s guards saw what she did and reported it to her brother. Jacqueline’s maid overheard what was said and knew her lady would be hung for such a serious offense, so she helped her escape through a secret passage way within the castle that led to a cave and from there the forest. Jacqueline left with only a few coins, and still wearing her nightgown, slippers and cloak she escaped the castle. Would she be able to escape to freedom? Jacqueline was determined to try.
When Ewan, a Scot warrior heard a woman scream in the forest, he instinctively rode his horse toward the sound. He found two men trying to subdue a woman who obviously didn’t want anything to do with them. The men explained to Ewan that there was a reward out for a woman that fit the description of the one they were trying to capture. Jacqueline looked at Ewan as her savior. He must take her with him. Ewan looked at her and saw that she was frightened, wearing only her nightgown under the cloak. He felt a need to protect this woman. He sent the men on their way. Jacqueline was able to escape her immediate danger, but what would happen if this Scot knew that she was English? Up until she mounted the horse, she had only spoken one word.
It wasn’t long before she spoke. Ewan realized he shouldn’t have rescued her. She was the enemy. But she was also a woman who needed protection. He discovered that she was the woman who they were searching for. Jacqueline knew she couldn’t go back home. She would be dead she explained to Ewan. He could not just leave her, but he didn’t trust her. They headed together toward Carrick. He would find someplace safe for her to stay.
As stories go, Jacqueline was drawn to Ewan. He was a kind man. Ewan found Jacqueline a good person and a beauty. Neither of them could consider falling in love. Ewan was a warrior and that’s all he wanted to be. Jacqueline was in love with another man whom her brother had sent away so that she would marry Lord Wessex. Both had their lives planned and needed to pursue their given paths. But would the hand of destiny let them?
“Our castle was just attacked and the prisoners are gone. Someone will pay for this,” Wayland said in an unsympathetic tone.
“We will gather men to go after the ones responsible,” the guard said.
“Responsible? We know bloody well it was the Scots,” Lord Wessex sneered.
“There were only a few of them, how exactly did they get past you and into the dungeons?” Wayland asked the group of soldiers. The line of soldiers looked around at each other but remained silent.
“You will answer or you too will see yourself in the bowels of the dungeon,” Richard hollered.
“It’s just, we are not certain what we saw, my lord,” the same brave solider said. “And what is it that you think you saw?” Wayland asked. The solider cowardly lowered his head and whispered, “Lady Jacqueline, my lord.”
“Blasphemy. What is the meaning of this?” roared Lord Wessex.
“It’s true, my lord. We saw Lady Jacqueline open the door to the dungeon and that is when moments later, we saw the prisoners escaping to the woods,” the man replied.
Facing Richard, Lord Wessex fumingly asked, “You dare have me wed a traitor?”
“No, my lord. Certainly these men must be mistaken. If you wish, we will confront her at once,” Richard said as they headed towards the staircase.
Jacqueline shook from the loud thundering sound the door made when someone repeatedly pounded on it. Opening the door, she saw Maggie standing in the doorframe. Deathly pale the poor woman looked distraught. Maggie brushed past Jacqueline, grabbed onto Jacqueline’s slippers and forcefully shoved them into Jacqueline’s hands. Reaching for the handful of silver that Jacqueline kept inside a black velvet trinket box, Maggie shoved the coins into a small leather pouch and tied it to the rope of Jacqueline’s cloak. Puzzled by Maggie’s unusual behavior she asked, “What is it, Maggie?”
“May God have mercy on this night, my lady. Lady Jacqueline, I overheard one of the guards talking to your brother and Lord Richard. Your brother and cousin are on their way up here. They know that you were the one that helped them escape. They believe you to be a traitor and helped the Scots through the gate. You must go. Now. Quickly.”
“But, Maggie I have nowhere to go.”
“My lady, if you stay.” Maggie stopped in mid-sentence and began to weep in her hands.
Jacqueline knew what she was going to say. That she would be charged with treason and put to death. “How can I leave without being noticed?”
“You will need to take the secret passageways within the walls. If you stay to the right, it should take you to the cave next to the river. Do you remember the way?” Jacqueline only nodded. Maggie moved the tapestry to reveal one of the several entrances hidden throughout the castle. As a young girl, Jacqueline often played within the passageways only to get lost several times. Jacqueline hugged Maggie and without saying a word, she slipped inside the small doorway. “Bless you, Maggie.” “May God watch over you, child.”
My Thoughts: Who can resist a Highland tale and one told so well! It’s full of romance, suspense and danger. Jacqueline is at war with her feelings for Ewan. She was supposed to love James, wasn’t she? But when Ewan touched her she couldn’t control her feelings or understand what she felt. This is a quandary where the protagonist knows what she should do based on what she believes in, but somehow the sands have shifted beneath her feet and she doesn’t know what she believes in anymore. When finally she does know what she wants, she can’t have it, because it is too late. April Holthaus develops this theme very tastefully putting the reader in a position of wanting to step in and fix the whole problem!
Ewan doesn’t know what is good for him. He doesn’t want a woman. He’s a good warrior and that’s what he wants. Everyone around him knows he unhappy and they figure that it’s got to be a woman. Ewan finally realizes that he loves her, but when he goes to retrieve her from the monastery, she has been abducted. Here he thought he had put her in the safest possible place.
Ah, the perils of love. I highly recommend this new author. The book was everything a Highland story should be.