Joanna's Highlander (Highland Protector #2)

Joanna's Highlander (Highland Protector #2)

Maeve Greyson


Long ago, in ancient Scotland, there was a time of druids. Contrary to the godlike perceptions their closely guarded teachings and warlike prowess gave, these druids were nothing more than ordinary mortals—dedicated ordinary mortals. They honored the old ways. Served the mighty goddesses. The druids were carefully selected clans more willing than the average Scot to die for their beliefs.

The druid lore was sacred. So safeguarded it was never committed to text. Never recorded in history’s annals. Instead, the traditions were passed down orally. Father to son. Mother to daughter. Druid chief to chosen successor.

Of all the druid clans, the strongest and most cherished by the goddesses was the MacDara bloodline. More devoted than any other and trained by the warrior goddess Scota herself, the MacDara chieftains and their sons mastered the goddesses’ four sacred weapons: sword, hammer, shield, and spear. No better archers could be found than the MacDara women.

The MacDara clan became the goddesses’ mightiest champions. And with this honor came the task of guarding the most hallowed gift to all of humanity: the blessed Heartstone—the ancient relic filled with the unexplainable energy that made every mortal life worth living.

The Heartstone was fabled to fuel humankind’s most basic instincts: the need to love, the courage to hope, the drive to evolve. Without the Heartstone’s subtle fueling of humanity’s desire to achieve a brighter future, civilizations would cease to better themselves. Progress would stagnate. Life would become dreary mediocrity until snuffed out by death. Humans can survive without many things, but love and hope—the urgent expectancy that circumstances will get better—are essential ingredients to survival.

The blessed stone and its lore was known and revered by all the druid clans and followers of the old ways. It was a precious gift from the goddesses. But as centuries passed and beliefs changed, the knowledge of the Heartstone and the legends of the Highland Protectors and the druid clans who served them faded into barely remembered myth. Then myth was forgotten. Abandoned by mankind. Replaced by the wonders of technology.

Except by those who knew the cost. The druid clans.

Scattered across the world by history and walking among society as though the tales were never more than fanciful stories of a long-ago time, the descendants of the clans now live double lives, upholding their families’ ancient oath: protect those who protect the Heartstone. Their ancestors failed the chosen MacDara clan once. They will not fail again. Not only for the sake of the MacDara clan—but for the sake of all humankind, even though those they protect are oblivious to the reality of the stone and its powers.

The Heartstone—and humanity’s evolution—must be protected at all cost, and the MacDara druid clan and their descendants are the ones deemed worthy to do it. Selected by the goddesses and the sacred stone itself, the MacDaras are the only bloodline strong enough for the task.

And the MacDaras must do more than survive. They must thrive. Their bloodline must not die out…no matter what century the goddesses place them in.




“Father said when he and The MacDara proffered our troth to the sacred Heartstone—” The trembling girl, sweet Leannan, Grant MacDara’s chosen love, flinched as if her words were too terrible to speak aloud. “He said…it didna warm. Not even when they laid their hands upon it and chanted our pledge a second and even a third time.”

Leannan clutched at Grant’s hands, staring up at him with such anguish, he ached to wield the goddesses’ hammer and slay the source of her pain. Leannan’s pale hands felt bloodless—cold as ice from the loch or even worse, colder than death.

“The goddesses willna bless our union, Grant. We…” Leannan bowed her head. “We canna marry, m’dearest one.” Her voice broke as sorrow overcame her. “And our babe will surely be stricken from my womb.” She barely swayed from side to side. A heartbreaking sob escaped her with a soft hiccup.

“I canna bear it, Grant,” she forced out between shuddering gulps of air. “I canna bear the thought of such a life, but m’heart kens that I must let ye go.” She sadly shook her head. “Yer destiny doesna include me.”

The sacred Heartstone and the goddesses can just be damned and go straight t’whatever hell they wish. Grant Danann MacDara, second son of the goddesses’ druid clan, eased a hand free of Leannan’s desperate grasp and slid a finger beneath her chin. Gently, he lifted her face and brushed the whisper of a kiss across the trembling seam of her lips. “I dinna give a whit about the stone’s druthers or the goddesses.”

Building rage urged him to bellow, but he kept his voice low and calm. He had to. For the sake of Leannan. And for the babe. He kissed her again and forced a tender smile. “All I care about is a life with ye and our child.”

He slid a thumb across her cheek, wiping away the wetness of her tears. He’d make this right. They didna need anyone’s useless blessing. “We shall always be together, dear one. I swear it.” He drew her closer and cradled her to his chest. “And our child will be born braw and strong, aye? Ye will see the truth of it, m’love. I swear it.”

He’d take Leannan away. Away to somewhere safe. He tightened his arms around her softly shaking body and pressed a cheek to the top of her head. Athair would be furious and Máthair would be ashamed, but it couldna be helped. He was meant t’be with Leannan.

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