Sometimes you need to lose it all to discover what is truly important.
Lucien St. Martin, Marquess of Heartstone, is ordered to travel to the “uncivilized” part of the world. America. Little does he know, everything is about to shift on its axis.
Ciara McKay is known as “the heart of the mountain.” Her world is changed the day she encounters a strange man near death on her mountain. Long winter nights lead to explosive passions before they part. Seven years pass before they meet again.
Can they overcome the “accepted” rules of society? Or will “the heart of the mountain” cease to be? Is it possible that Lucien can convince her to give them another chance? Will Ciara accept her destiny that together is the only way for them to be—as the princess and the marquess?
Publisher's Note: This book was previously released elsewhere. It has been reedited for release with Totally Bound Publishing.
General Release Date: 21st January 2020
The intense weather fell harsh and unforgiving, offering the inhabitants a preview of what was to come in the frigid months that loomed ahead. Thunder rumbled as lightning flashed through the mountains. A winter storm. The winds howled as if they were straight from the bowels of hell, intent on ripping everything in their path to pieces. No living person, sane person, would be caught out in this.
Twenty-four-year-old Ciara Malika McKay swore to herself as she fought and strained against the winds that whipped through the mountains. Every single step she struggled to take, their strength knocked her back five. What am I doing out on a night like this?
In her defense, she’d needed more herbs and when she had left her cabin this morning the weather hadn’t been like this at all. Of course, she could have returned earlier when she had experienced the air change with the impending storm. But when had she ever done anything the easy way?
The life she led was hard, but she wouldn’t change it for anything. For all intents and purposes, she was alone on this mountain with only animals to befriend her. She did not often venture down into the town that was at the base of a neighboring mountain because she disliked the crowds. Especially after that one incident.
Ciara preferred to keep her interaction with people confined to the elderly women who lived at the outskirts of the town. Even then she kept her visits short. She visited them only because they were the final link to her parents she had left.
* * * *
Paradise Cove was nestled at the foot of a mountain. It was a town composed of outcasts. All were welcome there, regardless of race or religion or any other determining factor in most places. The numerous occupants comprised escaped slaves, Indians and whites who had ventured in and chosen to stay. The residents had a close network. Despite their differences, they protected, defended and supported each other. It was a prosperous spot.
Regardless of the good they presented, Ciara chose to live high up in the mountains, keeping to herself. All the townspeople knew of her and yet few could call her friend.
She was legend, a myth. A young woman who lived by herself up there. Those who sought her out never found her. Not a trace of her or her cabin. She was like the mist.
How she came and went depended on her mood. There were those few adventurous men who declared they would be the one to find this elusive wood sprite. But when they made it back to civilization all they had were faint memories of a hooded figure who had stood over them and carried them to the base of the mountain.
* * * *
She cursed again as the wind ripped her hood off her head. Ciara jerked it back up as she squinted through the pelting rain. Her herbs were safe at her waist and, as she sank into some mud, she growled to herself. A shape materialized out from the rain itself before her and she smiled despite her current situation as she laid her eyes on her friend, Faolan.
He was a large wolf, blacker than the darkest night and just as dangerous. She had saved him from a trap years ago and he had never left. Silent, he stood gazing upon her with amber eyes before turning and melting back into pitch black. She followed with the knowledge that he would lead her safely through. Ciara groaned with relief as she saw her cabin outlined in the flashes of lightning, so she hastened, eager to be out of this weather.
A push opened the door and she stood dripping on her wooden floor as Faolan streaked past her to shake and lay himself by the stove. Taking off her sodden cloak, she shivered as she hung it, then made her way to start a fire. When the room heated, she stripped and put on some dry clothes with haste. Then, turning her attention to the herbs she had gathered, she laid them out to dry as well.
Warm, dry and safe from the storm, Ciara set to her next task. Food. She enjoyed a simple meal of soup and bread and remembering the past as she cleaned up from that.
Closing her eyes against the onslaught of pain at the memory of her parents, she banked her fire and climbed into her bed to fall asleep, ignoring the tears on her face, alone except for the wolf in her two-room cabin.
Word Count: 88,006
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Genres: EROTIC ROMANCE
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Aliyah Burke is an avid reader and is never far from pen and paper (or the computer). She is happily married to a career military man. They are owned by six Borzoi. She spends her days at the day job, writing, and working with her dogs. She loves to hear from her readers and can be reached here. She can also be found on Facebook or Twitter: @AliyahBurke96. And Pinterest.
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