Friday, May 3, 2013

A Thistle in the Mist Excerpt and 5 Star Review

Title: A Thistle in the Mist
Author: Megan Denby
Genre: Historical Scottish Romance

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Meara isn’t thinking about Death, that morning, when she kisses her mother good-bye, but hours later she is, as her fingers slide into the back of Mother’s shattered skull. Empty eyes – the empty eyes of her mother – stare back at her and Meara thinks her world has ended. She has no idea.
Ebullient and feisty, eighteen-year-old Meara MacDonald lives an idyllic life with her family, frisking about the mist-enfolded Isle of Skye atop her horse, dreaming of the day when she will wed her heart, the gallant Duncan MacLeod. But fate has other plans and when Aunt Deirdre and Uncle Sloan seep into their midst, Meara’s family is taken, one-by-one, for reasons she discovers are both personal and nefarious.  Mother is found dead, Da disappears, Duncan is taken by the Napoleonic Wars, Meara’s younger sister, Hannah – with child by Uncle Sloan – takes her own life and while Meara sleeps, her newborn son is snatched from her arms.
Unable to reign in her spirit or her tongue, Meara finds herself catapulted from Scotland to a household steeped in mystery in Nova Scotia where, guided by her strength of will, she will fight her way back to the remains of her family; her heart and soul.


In this excerpt, Meara suffers more abuse at the hands of her stepmother...

My face burned as I escaped across the dew-slick moor. My lungs screamed for air. I glanced back over my shoulder. No one followed me. Yet. The soggy hem of my gown wrapped around my foot and I sprawled, the wind knocked from my chest. I glared at my muddy palms, the claws of my rage tearing to get out. Balling my fists, I pounded the damp earth over and over until finally I dropped my head onto my arms.
“Christ’s blood, I hate her!” I railed, my voice a ragged intrusion on the still morning. “I hate her!”
Rolling onto my back, I pressed my palm to the heat of my face then tiptoed my fingers along the handprint that branded my cheek. I took a deep breath and felt the gradual unclenching of my body. She could beat me as much as she wanted but I would not let her win. I would not! I laced my fingers behind my head and stared up at the swirling gray.
A white-tailed eagle emerged from the mist and soared overhead, weighing the currents with arrogant ease as it glided in and out of the roiling fog, barn door wings spread wide. I looked to the south where the far-off peaks of the Cuillin Mountains straddled the isle, jagged purple tips stabbing the sky above the haze. Swiveling my head, I picked out the distant smudge of Duntulm, the place I used to think of as home.
Silence curtained the morning. I watched a pearl of dew hang suspended for a moment, before it slid down the stem of a daisy. A flash of yellow drew my eye as a wagtail came alive in a stand of birch, the leaves disturbed by the wiggle of his long tail feathers. An aura of earth and heather drew me into its embrace and I breathed deep, the familiar bouquet a balm for my ravaged soul.
The eagle screamed and I found it again. With deadly purpose it swooped, powerful legs outstretched in a controlled dive, its razor talons cutting short a wasted plea. I watched as it somersault-landed then commenced its morning meal, its hooked beak plucking loose tufts of fur that floated away on the breeze.
Feeling a kinship with the doomed rabbit, I scrubbed at the sudden prick of tears then jerked my hands away. Earth stained my knuckles and I wiped the mess on the navy green of the heather. Hatred swelled in my throat and I swallowed, but the lump stayed where it was, intent upon choking me.
How did this happen? How has it come to this? I asked myself.
Images of Mother flooded my mind. I searched between my breasts and closed my fingers around my locket, smoothed my thumb over the curves. How sweet life had been, how innocent, until that retched being had entered our lives. Memories crept from the safe place where I kept them protected but I tamped them back down and instead closed my eyes tight, watching shadows move back and forth across the back of my eyelids.
Cicadas hummed as the temperature started to rise. The spicy note of heather filled my senses, the calming trickle of the burn’s tumbling waters lulling me in the background. As I teetered on the precipice of sleep, the sun broke through the mist and bathed my face in warmth, chasing the last of the shadows away. Calloused hands floated into my daydream. Tender fingers brushed the dirt from my face and I sighed as firm lips touched mine.
I jolted awake. The lips that pressed mine were very real and very familiar.
“Oh!” I squeaked.
“Weel, lass, judgin’ from yer smile, it was a good dream then?”

My name is Megan Denby and I live northeast of Toronto in the cozy, lakeside community of Port Perry, Ontario. I grew up on a farm in the middle of a family of six, with two older sisters and a younger brother. My world is my family, my friends and my writing.

A baseball player for twenty years, I retired after breaking both my ankles and have since taken to the lake to become an avid dragonboater. I decided to challenge myself this year (a.k.a. midlife crisis) and am currently training for The Warrior Dash - an extreme 5K obstacle course. A true Canadian, I love watching hockey but I'm a pretty lousy player. When I'm not hanging out with my five sons and one daughter, I can be found at the arena watching my wife play hockey.

A Thistle in the Mist was an idea born over ten years ago and was inspired by the turbulent life of my feisty Scottish great-grandmother. After shelving my novel for many years, I dusted it off, edited like crazy and spent six months conversing with literary agents. Impatient to share my story, I opted to self-publish and released it on Amazon on January 18th 2013.

Between family, blogging, Facebook, website building, tweeting and researching I am hard at work on the second book, Lost to the Mist, and hope to have it released during the summer of 2013.

Thanks again, Lynelle. I am so looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my story. 

Contact details

My website is

My 5 Star Review

Emotions were high when I finished this book, and what a read it has been. Daring, courageous and thoughtful was only a few adjectives that comes to mind when reading this book. It would stir every emotion in you, from love to hate and all in between when you read this thought provoking book till the end. A book you will not want to put down even for a moment as you are wrapped into the lives of Meara and Duncan MacLeod. Drawn into their everyday life as jealousy, hatred and delusions took away everything they have, stripping them from all that made them human.
The fight to survive and stay in control ever present as they struggled through all the lies to be a family again. The characters believable and becoming beloved friends that still lingers long after you have closed the book.
The story starts in their frail youth where life was still beautiful, uncomplicated and theirs for the taking but when Meara's mother was murdered at the hand of her aunt Deidre and her dad isolated himself from reality Meara had to fight for some normalcy. But it never came as the plot thickens. The spiders web became more entangled with every passing page and you get to know Deidre and Sloan for the corrupt people they were. Demolishing everything sweet and innocent in their surge for power and to have a perfect bairn. Their sick and vile thoughts and deeds spilling over and rots everything they touched. Lies rolled from their tongue as a normal habit, twisting truths to give them the upper hand. 
Helplessly the servants watched as the beloved family are scattered and death claimed them one by one, powerless to help them as threats hang over their heads.
Duncan MacLeod, Laird of Dunvegan was also Captain in the infantry during the Napoleon onslaught against England and had to leave Meara behind. Not knowing how sick these two family members were. Wounded during the war he ends up in a hospital in England, a letter informed him that his beloved wife and son died. Believing this lie he had to fight to stay in control. Returning home scarred and shattered.
Robert McDonald father of Meara and Hannah could not handle the sudden death of his wife and isolated himself and in the process left his daughters to defend for themselves. Hannah took her own live after severe abuse from her "uncle" and Meara was locked away in a tower then shipped off as an indentured servant to Canada.
Her trusted friend Rabbie always at her side protecting her, this young man the very strength that held her up in a time when she too did not know what was going on around her. The loss to great to handle. Even in his young age he took care of her womanly needs gaining the trust of Captain Duff McDougall. Caring, watching and protecting her from a lustful predator.
The ever growing bluff widening as these two people are kept apart by circumstances beyond their control and the love of a son keeps them fighting for all that was worth.
So much heartache poured from the pages and you kept on reading hoping that some where love will conquer and the evil will be stopped.
Every character's persona was well developed and got under your skin as you became part of their lives and struggles the story strong and well written to give you a highly recommended Historical Scottish Romance.  Definitely one of my favorites and a book I would read again.
Well done Megan, you can be proud.

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