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ABOUT THE BOOK
TITLE – Warrior and the Wanderer
AUTHOR – Elizabeth Holcombe
GENRE – Scottish historical romance/time travel
PUBLICATION DATE – December 23, 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 249 pages
PUBLISHER – Amazon Kindle
COVER ARTIST – Fiona Jayde Media Designs
Infamous Scottish bad boy, Ian MacLean, takes a road trip to sort out his mess of a life and lands five hundred years in the past. He is taken hostage into what he is certain is a band of extreme Highland role players. The only bright light in this strange situation is his insanely beautiful warrior-princess captor who wields her claymore as well as her fiery feral charms.
To gain a strong ally for her clan, flame-haired Bess Campbell reluctantly married a powerful Highland chief who had no intentions of uniting the clans. After murdering her clan chief, he chains her to a rock condemning her to die in the rising tide, until a strangely dressed but startlingly handsome man emerges from the waves like a mythical selkie and rescues her. Bess learns her most odd savior has the same name as her murdering husband—MacLean—and makes him her prisoner.
Fearing she may have captured a madman, Bess forces Ian to journey through Scotland chasing down a killer. She finds Ian’s strange ways oddly endearing and uncommonly useful to her quest for revenge. Ian struggles to find a way back to his time, while being pulled deeper into his role in the past and his undeniable attraction for the fiery Highland warrior princess, Bess Campbell.
She knelt at his feet and began smoothing the plaid across the cold stone floor, felt him watching her every move. “Ye’d best pay close attention,” she said, “because I’m no’ gonnae do this for ye again.”
“Should be humiliating for ye, to have me show ye how to properly dress yourself.” “Actually, I find it charming, in a weird sort of way.”
Bess ignored the last comment and folded the bottom third of the plaid into thick pleats. She slipped the rope under them.
“Lay on the plaid,” she said. “Place yer waist at the rope in case ye’ve forgotten.” “Oh, yer sarcasm tears me apart, Blaze.”
“If it would help to tear down yer arrogance then we’d be better served, and stop calling me Blaze.” He grimaced as he folded his body down to kneel beside her.
“Your wound…,” she began.
“Is nothing,” he said behind clenched teeth as he lowered his body on top of the plaid.
He rested supine before her. Bess drew in a deep breath. She hovered over him, grasped the ends on the rope in her fists, tied it about his waist, and then adjusted the pleats under the belt.
Ian moaned from far back in his throat. Perspiration glistened across his forehead.
“Ye claim your wound is nothing, d’ye?” she chided, loosening the rope belt. Ian gave her a small forced smile.
She continued to dress him. Her fingers smoothed the wool over his hard waist, over his lean hips, and down the ridge of muscle on his thighs. Feigning indifference was the most difficult part of her task.
“Ye may stand now,” she said. “I’ll help ye.”
“No thanks,” he said struggling to sit up, “you’ve done quite enough.”
She ignored his protest.
“Bursting your stitches is no’ a sign of bravery, ’tis a sign of stupidity.” She took up his left arm and placed it over her shoulders. “Stand with me.”
“I can do it on my own,” he said.
“Ye’re just another arrogant bastard, a typical MacLean,” she said helping him anyway.
“Have you ever thought that all MacLean’s aren’t forged from the same iron as your husband?” he asked.
“Ye betrayed my trust, so aye, I do think all MacLean’s are alike,” she said.
“But what sort of man would I be if I didn’t try to escape?” he asked.
She paused. He had her there. Of course she expected he would try to escape. That was why she had chained and tied him up in the first place.
Ian on his feet, Bess took a step backward. She could not help but allow her gaze to fall down the long length of his body and discovered her task was not complete.
She bent down, and scooped up the rest of the plaid dangling from his waist and tossed it over his shoulder. He remained silent, a blessing, as she tucked the end of the plaid under the rope belt. Task done, Bess surveyed Ian, and her knees suddenly weakened.
Dear God, she thought, he’s the Highlander of my dreams, of my heart. He is the one who could make love possible, if he wasnae so arrogant and odd, and I wasnae so bound to my clan. If ‘twas another time…
Elizabeth Holcombe’s Top Ten Reasons for Loving a Man in a Kilt~~
10. They usually subscribe to the motto: “Who needs a shirt when you have a kilt?”
9. There’s a certain “Tarzan” vibe to a man in a kilt, and who wouldn’t want to be Jane?
8. Take off the whole nine yards and you have a “sleeping bag” for two.
7. Pleats accentuate the male backside perfectly.
6. Ewan McGregor.
5. Gerard Butler.
4. Knickers? Who needs knickers?
3. The natural habitat of the men in kilts is Scotland’s gorgeous Highlands.
2. Kilts evoke a man of strength and honor.
1. Ewan McGregor (and yes, I meant to put him on the list twice). Slainte!
There’s quite a lot to like in Elizabeth Holcombe’s Highlander time travel adventure romance (whew that’s a mouthful). The setting rings true, the Scottish dialect isn’t overdone, and the characters are engaging. Best of all, this plot revolves around a woman, Bess Campbell, who takes control of her clan after her brother is brutally murdered and her new husband leaves her to die in the incoming tide.
When Ian MacLean shows up to save the day, it’s more through dumb luck and a misplaced sense he’s wandered into a re-enactment than to any particular set of skills. At least at the beginning. Ian does have skills that come into play as Bess takes steps to cement her position and to void her marriage with the man looking to usurp her clan and its lands.
Time travel is a tricky concept to handle so that the reader’s suspension of disbelief isn’t rocked too far off-kilter. The author does a credible job integrating Ian’s culture shock with the realities of a time and place so far from his comfort zone that his survival is not guaranteed, even under the protection of the warrior Bess.
With twists and turns, the plot moves along, fueled by the inevitable attraction between Bess and Ian. The denouement—how Ian resolves knowing he must return to his own time (and under a deadline to boot)—is clever and satisfying.
I enjoyed the book very much, especially the interesting spin on role reversals, but I have a major caveat: the editing is so below par that at times I was tempted to put the book down in irritation at the sheer number of errors. That is disappointing and for that reason, it takes a solid 4.5 star read down to 4.0 stars.
Elizabeth Holcombe’s background includes Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Fine Arts and Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University in her hometown of Richmond. She has taught elementary school and adult education courses on architecture in Rochester, Minnesota, and then worked as a fine arts museum registrar at the Flint Institute of Arts in Michigan.
Although she’s been writing since age ten, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son that she began penning book-length fiction. A past president of Washington Romance Writers, Elizabeth has also organized two highly successful seminars on romance for The Smithsonian Associates.
Elizabeth’s first published Scottish romance novel, Heaven and the Heather (originally published by Berkley/Jove of
Penguin Putnam), was a finalist for Best Historical Romance in the Holt Medallion, nominated by Romantic Times
Reviewer’s Choice for Best First Historical Romance and the Dorothy Parker Reviewer’s Choice Award.
Elizabeth lives in Falls Church, Virginia with her husband and son. She is also the proud owner of Dime Store Chic, ranked in the top 50 for vintage shops on Etsy.com. When not writing or crafting her mixed media creations, Elizabeth frequents local estate sales and flea markets.