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The Last MacKlenna
SERIES: The Celtic Brooch Series, Book 2
GENRE: Romantic Suspense, Second Chance/Divorced/Widows
ENDING: HEA (They’re a couple and live Happily Ever After)
WORD COUNT: Over 100,000 words (very large book)
HERO’S AGE: Over 50
HEROINE’S AGE: 40-49
HEAT LEVEL: Very Sexy (Let Me Show Exactly What I Want)
GRAPHIC LANGUAGE: Some (The occasional “F” bomb, lots of other talk, some explicit sex)
An international romance and tug at your heartstrings love story…
Always on the go and racing toward the next challenge, vintner Meredith Montgomery is the kind of woman who has it all–or at least that’s what she wants everyone to believe. But when a serendipitous twist of fate at a quaint B&B in Edinburgh brings her face-to-face with Elliott Fraser, a wealthy and respected Scotsman, Meredith might just slow down for the first time in her life.
These two workaholics are running scared from the one thing they both desire most–someone special. When life-changing events stop them in their tracks, Meredith and Elliott realize they are unable to resist the sizzling attraction they have for each other. Can these two damaged and lonely souls find the enduring power of love and turn their tragedies into triumphs of the heart?
READ AN EXCERPT
MEREDITH MONTGOMERY FLOATED above the ground as she ran. She didn’t bounce. She glided with perfect form, using her energy to propel herself forward, watching the horizon like a rock-steady pan-cam in a movie.
The worn path snaked through ten thousand acres of Montgomery Winery’s dormant vines. She tried to push her stress and fear aside to enjoy the sense of well-being that came with running. Today it wasn’t working for her. There were too many items on her to-do list. Number one had her stomach tied into triple knots. As soon as she got home, she’d check off the item, not because she wanted to, but because she had no choice.
It was a matter of life or death.
That sounded divaesque. The Lord knew she wasn’t a diva, but she was a breast cancer survivor. To most women like her, monthly breast self-exam day was a big deal, and she performed it religiously. She raced forward, trying to suppress her fear. Unfortunately, that didn’t work for her either.
The Italian-style villa where she’d lived for most of her life came into view. She sprinted the last quarter mile toward the residence that had perched on top of a private knoll for more than a century. The sun glinted off the copper gutters and the gold streaks in the Portuguese limestone walls. The estate vineyards that surrounded the villa showed rows of bare trellising. Wild mustard flowers wouldn’t bloom among the vineyards for another couple of months. By March, they would awaken and begin to bud. The new growing season filled her with hope and renewal every year. This year even more so.
When she hit the driveway, she slowed to a walk and checked the time. The unplanned nine-miler put her behind schedule on a day packed with appointments. If her assistant couldn’t rearrange her commitments, Meredith’s afternoon flight to Scotland looked dicey.
She entered the house through the kitchen, grabbed her iPhone off the counter, and snatched a bottle of chocolate milk from the refrigerator. The phone’s home screen listed several text messages marked urgent.
“So what’s new?”
The master winemaker needed to meet with her. She wiped sweat from her forehead and neck, thinking. The results of the field trials were in, and he wanted to start a vineyard on the south-facing slope. He had yet to get his one-track mind around the fact that launching Cailean, the winery’s new chardonnay, was too important to be sidetracked by a new project. What would an expansion mean for the winery? If he could develop a new vineyard without draining resources, she might agree. But that was a huge might.
The breast exam needed to wait five more minutes while she forced herself to stretch. She hated stretching. Instead, she took two yoga classes a week. The odds of finding a class in Edinburgh over the holidays seemed unlikely. So she stretched, hating every minute. She didn’t have time to waste. Not today.
In the bathroom, soaked clothes fell into a pile at her feet. She kicked them aside and stepped into streams of hot water pulsating from top and side-mounted jets. Her schedule for the next few hours came into focus. Ask Cate to confirm the reservations at the B&B in Edinburgh and the National Archives.
Meredith lifted her left arm and placed her hand behind her head. The soapy pads of three fingers rotated up and down her breast, using overlapping dime-sized circular motions, feeling for lumps in the soft tissue. Get the agenda for the meeting with the web designer. Her fingers traced the same path they had followed every month since cancer took her other breast. Call Hank to find an exercise rider for Quiet Dancer while I’m—
Her hand froze. Fear, bitter and fire-hot, coated her tongue.
Do it again.
She retraced the edges of a lump. An irregular-shaped one she would never have discovered without being extra sensitive to the feel of her small breast. Dizzy and tingling, she gulped in lungfuls of air and clutched her chest with a trembling hand.
Do it again.
The lump remained—hard and rooted in the breast. The floor buckled beneath her feet. Her vision blurred. Shampoo and soap bottles became little more than blotches of white and pink and yellow. The clammy wall slapped her back, and she slumped against the marble. Snap went the tether to her anchor, sending her sliding down the wall and into despair.
Not again. Please, not again.
Time stopped. Nothing existed but heart-racing fear. The water turned lukewarm, yet she remained in a stupor. When the water turned cold and she still hadn’t moved, a voice tunneled through the haze. Move your ass. Now. The internal voice had pushed her through endless training miles, five marathons, and cancer surgery. It had also kept her company during the bleak days at her late husband’s bedside and the final hours with her father. She never ignored it, and she never, ever quit.
The voice cranked her up the wall, vertebra by vertebra, until she came to her feet, grabbing the lever handles as if they were lifelines. She turned off the tepid water.
The phone rang, shrill and intruding. Meredith stumbled out of the shower stall, cupping her breasts. God made one; man made the other. While it wasn’t a bad imitation, it had scars and a fake nipple.
The answering machine picked up, and her executive assistant left a message. “You’re probably in the shower. I was tracking you on MapMyRun. Why’d you do a long run today? That’ll put you behind schedule. Let me know if you want to postpone the ten o’clock media call. That newspaper reporter is still stomping through the vineyard hoping to be the first to write a review of Cailean. Call me.”
Meredith lifted a heated towel from the warmer and dried off, patting her breast, nice and easy. “The winery is all that matters,” her father had said. “Put it first and everything else will fall into place.”
Will it, Daddy?
When the flow of tears slowed, she squared her shoulders and called her assistant.
“Hey, why’d you run this morning?” Cate asked. “It’s a rest day.”
“Jet lag messes with my schedule.” An icy finger traced Meredith’s spine as she debated whether to tell Cate about the lump. Not this time. It was more important to keep her assistant focused on the launch than to confide in a friend.
Meredith snugged the warm towel around her, comforted by the heat. “I’ll get there before the conference call, but I might need to delay my departure a few hours, maybe forty-eight.” She grimaced, waiting for a barrage of questions.
In her trademark clipped voice, Cate asked, “Why? What happened? Are you hurt? You fell, didn’t you? You reinjured your knee.”
Meredith massaged the lump buried deep in her breast. “No, I didn’t fall, and it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.”
“Are you sure?” Cate asked.
Meredith took a shaky breath. A lie, no matter how small, was still a lie even if it was meant to protect someone. Her hand went to her face, close to her mouth. “Yes,” she said with a muddled voice. She could be fixed, couldn’t she? The doctors fixed her last time. Surgery and reconstruction, no chemo or radiation. If she had cancer again, treatment would go just as smoothly.
MEET Katherine Lowry Logan
Katherine’s historical research for her writing has taken her along the Oregon Trail (The Ruby Brooch), to the reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek (The Sapphire Brooch), to Bletchley Park in England and the beaches of Normandy (The Emerald Brooch), to Napa, California and Edinburgh, Scotland (The Last MacKlenna), to New York City and Florence, Italy (The Diamond Brooch), and to Denver, Colorado ( The Amber Brooch).
Katherine has a degree in psychology and spent twenty years as a real estate and tax paralegal.
She is the mother of two daughters and the grandmother of five. She is also a marathoner and lives in Lexington, Kentucky.