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eBook by Janet Elaine Smith
eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Romance
eBook Description: Dunnottar Castle, Scotland, the domain of the Clan Keith, close consorts of the royal family for many generations. The whole country is at war with itself: Scotland against England. William Keith, the patriarch, is the wealthiest man in Scotland, but he desires only to be known as the kindest; John, his younger brother, is eager to fight for his country, even if his motives are a little questionable; and Robert, William's oldest son, is off to battle, but his mother's only hope is that he finds a wife in the process. Even the most seemingly righteous families have some deep, dark hidden secrets. The Keith clan is no exception; some of them so deep and dark even the other Keiths don't know they exist. But they are privy to secrets of King Charles II himself.
eBook Publisher: Blue Leaf Publications/Indigo Blue
Fictionwise Release Date: September 2009
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1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats [MultiFormat - What's this?]: eReader (PDB) [295 KB]
, ePub (EPUB) [281 KB]
, Rocket/REB1100 (RB) [268 KB]
, Portable Document Format (PDF) [1.1 MB]
, Palm Doc (PDB) [301 KB]
, Microsoft Reader (LIT) [246 KB]
, Franklin eBookMan (FUB) [282 KB]
, hiebook (KML) [683 KB]
, Sony Reader (LRF) [394 KB]
, iSilo (PDB) [248 KB]
, Mobipocket (PRC) [314 KB]
, Kindle Compatible (MOBI) [357 KB]
, OEBFF Format (IMP) [433 KB]
Reading time: 277-388 min.
Microsoft Reader (LIT) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
Portable Document Format (PDF) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud ENABLED
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED
"A great read...loaded with action with a bit of romance running throughout the book. Once I got hooked, I couldn't lay it down. I've read periodical articles that Janet Smith has written about the Keith Clan...however, this novel really brings the family alive!"--Leland Meitzler
"Smith's novel takes a story from her husband's Keith family history and peoples it with men and women about whom any reader can't help but care. Romance and intrigue, friendship and betrayal...against an accurately researched historical backdrop. No wonder 'Dunnottar' has been (such) a bestseller."--Nina Osier, Multi-published author
"I thoroughly enjoyed reading this historical...it's a definate keeper...a nice addition to my library."--Sandra Kelsay
"The beheading of a king, four love stories, the hiding of the precious crown jewels, and a charming little red-headed girl...all these should be enough of a mix for a historical novel, especially when it is based on the lore of a family we know. 'Dunnottar' the title of this book, is actually the name of the ancient castle, the home of the Keith family...if you are ready for a romantic trip back to 17th century Scotland, here is your ticket."--Mary M. Frank
The dashing red-headed John Keith sat on a stone, gazing out over the sea in Scotland. As he looked up, he saw the things that were so familiar to him: the steps winding up the steep rocky cliff to the Castle Dunnottar, the great Clydesdale horses which were the mainstay of life at Dunnottar, the guards and squires perched atop the great wall, surveying the situation in case of attack.
He buried his head in his hands. All of it meant nothing to him. If only he could have brought his beloved Ann here, but she belonged to another. She would never see his home of Dunnottar. Nor would his little Judith see it.
His heart ached for them. Even the threat of war, which was ever near at hand, brought a slight smile to his face. Shortly, he would find a way to travel to London to offer his services to King Charles. He was sure that once he arrived in the ton he would be able to visit Judith, and if he was extremely lucky he might catch at least one fleeting glimpse of Ann.
It all seemed so long ago. Little Judith was already three years old. He had missed so much, he lamented, by not being there to see her grow up. Her first steps, her first words, her first tooth. He knew all of these things were mundane, but when you are not a part of them, they all loom larger than life in your mind.
He moved off the rock and lay back on the cool grass. The smell of the heather blowing in the air filled his being. There was nothing that could make a man more melancholy than the aroma of the heather. He gazed up at the sky, watching the clouds as they drifted lazily by.
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"I do have one favor, as long as you ask," Squire Hastings said to his very close friend, John Keith. "If I am to go to Holland for King Charles, I cannot bear the thought of Ann being alone. Would you consider it too great a burden to check in on her from time to time?"
John Keith smiled. There was nothing he would rather do. Visions of the lovely, sprightly Ann Hastings danced in his mind. He pictured her beautiful red curls, which bounced to and fro gaily as she hurried about the house, always eager to serve those who came to call.
There was only one problem with Ann: she was deeply devoted to her husband, Squire Hastings. She would do anything to please him, and the look she got in her eyes as she stared at him ... John Keith would give everything he owned--which was worth a great deal--to have someone feel about him as Ann felt about Hastings.
"It would be my pleasure," he replied simply.
"You are the only man alive I would ever trust her with," Hastings told John. "I know you would never do anything to hurt her. Or me."
Day after day passed, with Hastings away in Holland, tending to the king's business. John Keith, according to the agreement the two men had, frequented Hastings' small home, always to check on the beautiful young Ann. Soon the visits became a part of his daily ritual.
"It is not just," Ann complained one evening as they sat on the settle in front of the cozy fire burning in the fireplace. "Why did he have to send him? There are so many other men who are as capable as he is."
"But you should be honored that King Charles trusted Hastings enough to carry out such an important task. Besides, I have heard rumors that the possibility of war is over and that Hastings will return shortly."
"Why couldn't he have sent you instead?" she asked. "Surely he trusts you as well. And you did not just take a bride. I would much rather be here with Hastings than with you!"
It went through him like a pointed arrow, wounding his heart as it entered.
"No," John Keith admitted to Ann, studying her with a new intensity. During the time they had spent together, he had become extremely drawn to the beautiful young woman. Now he watched the fire burning in her sparkling green eyes, brighter than the flames in the fireplace. He smiled warmly at her.
"Do you know how beautiful you are when you are angry?" he asked her.
She blushed, and the color that came to her cheeks just enhanced her beauty.
"I didn't say there was any justice in it," John continued, "but Hastings didn't argue."
"Oh, wonderful!" Ann sputtered. "And a lowly squire is supposed to stand before the king himself and say, 'Sorry, you majesty, but I just don't feel like going to Holland. I just got married and I can't bear to leave my wife!' How do you think the king would have reacted to such a declaration as that?"
John Keith threw back his head and laughed. She was right; it wasn't fair. But it was no more fair that Hastings had wed Ann. He could have offered her so much more. A life a Dunnottar would be far more fitting for such a woman as Ann than the life Hastings could offer her. For a brief passing moment, John wished that Hastings was not on his way home. He could think of a thousand and one ways to console Ann in her loss.
He snapped to attention. What kind of a monster had he become? Hastings was one of his best friends and he had made a vow to him to protect Ann. He wondered if he could protect her from himself. He realized that his own intentions had become less than honorable towards her.
He never meant for it to happen, but someplace along the line John Keith had fallen hopelessly in love with the lovely Ann Hastings.
Hurrying to change the subject, he began to relate more tales of Dunnottar Castle and the Keith clan, one of the mightiest in all of Scotland, to Ann.
She listened intently, asking questions from time to time. She could almost picture the castle, perched high atop the stones, just from the way he described it. The Keiths, especially William and Mary, the patriarch and matriarch of the family, sounded like the most wonderful people who had ever lived.
"You must be very proud of being a Keith," Ann said.
"Aye, that I am," John admitted freely. "It is nearly the most wonderful thing to be a Keith."
"Nearly?" Ann asked, a twinkle in her eye. "And what would be better?"
John hesitated before answering. "To have a woman to share it with," he said slowly.
Ann laughed. "Surely any woman would be proud to be the wife of the great John Keith of Dunnottar."
"Almost any woman," John said. The one woman whom he would love to take with him to Dunnottar was sitting here, so close he could reach out and touch her. So near he could feel the warmth of her breath on his face. So near, and yet he could never touch her. Could never claim her as his own. She belonged to someone else.
"If there is a woman who would turn you down," Ann said, winking playfully at him, "there must be something dreadfully wrong with her."
"No," John said. "The truth of the matter is, she is perfect. The only fault she has is that she has already been spoken for by another."
John wondered if she knew he was talking about her. She was so in love with Hastings, he doubted she had any idea how much he loved her. How much he wanted her.
With no warning, Ann broke into tears. John drew her close, wrapping his arms around her.
"What is it?" he asked. "Was it something I said? Something I did?"
"Of course not," Ann replied. "You have been wonderful to me. It is just that I miss Hastings so much. I know you would never understand, not ever having loved a woman, but at times when I lie in bed at night, I almost imagine I can feel him there beside me. I love the way he makes me feel. When he is with me, I am complete. When he is away, it is as if a part of me is gone too."
John ran his hand over her red tresses, trying to console her.
"I am sorry," she said, drying her eyes on a corner of her skirt. "I do not mean to carry on. I am just so lonesome."
John did not know how it happened, but somehow they ended up in bed, in each others' arms, making mad passionate love. He caressed her tenderly, loving the touch and the smell of her. Before he knew it, he felt their love end in one giant, breathtaking crescendo, like beautiful music.
They lay exhausted, their bodies melding together as if they were made for each other. John was still awake when Ann fell asleep, her bosom heaving enticingly with each breath she took.
The worst part of it was that when he awoke in the morning, with Ann cuddled close to him, he had no feelings of guilt, in spite of the fact that he had made love to his best friend's wife. And in his own bed! If he had it to do over again, he wondered if he would be strong enough to resist the temptation, or if he would give in so easily to his passions again.
He carefully crawled from the bed, trying not to awaken her. He was afraid if he stayed there and she woke up, he would not be able to leave her alone. His entire being cried out to take her to him again, but he knew it was wrong. If all he had was one solitary night of lovemaking with her, that would have to suffice for his entire life. He knew he could never love any other woman.
Not after Ann.