The Whirlpools of Time
by Anna Belfrage
Publication Date: June 11, 2021
Series: The Locket, Book One
Genre: Historical Romance/Scottish/Time Travel
He hoped for a wife. He found a companion through time and beyond.
It is 1715 and for Duncan Melville something fundamental is missing from his life. Despite a flourishing legal practice and several close friends, he is lonely, even more so after the recent death of his father. He needs a wife—a companion through life, someone to hold and be held by. What he wasn’t expecting was to be torn away from everything he knew and find said woman in 2016…
Erin Barnes has a lot of stuff going on in her life. She doesn’t need the additional twist of a stranger in weird outdated clothes, but when he risks his life to save hers, she feels obligated to return the favour. Besides, whoever Duncan may be, she can’t exactly deny the immediate attraction.
The complications in Erin’s life explode. Events are set in motion and to Erin’s horror she and Duncan are thrown back to 1715. Not only does Erin have to cope with a different and intimidating world, soon enough she and Duncan are embroiled in a dangerous quest for Duncan’s uncle, a quest that may very well cost them their lives as they travel through a Scotland poised on the brink of rebellion.
Will they find Duncan’s uncle in time? And is the door to the future permanently closed, or will Erin find a way back?
Erin Barnes leaned forward to crank up the volume, squinting at the road before her. Her wipers swished back and forth like a couple of high-speed metronomes, but with the rain coming down in torrents they did little to improve visibility.
She took a right and lowered her speed as she approached the old crossroads. In weather such as this, the old gravel roads became water-logged, and she definitely didn’t need the complication of an accident. Not after this shitty day. Her hands tightened on the steering wheel. She threw a look at the rear-view mirror: no headlights following her. Idiot, she told herself, they wouldn’t dare.
“No, of course they wouldn’t,” she said out loud but the knot of tension that lived in her stomach remained where it was, an uncomfortable weight that had her glancing back the way she’d come over and over again. Steve might. He’d looked ready to throttle her earlier and he had a damned short temper.
Had her grandmother Emily been alive, she’d have told Erin that some crusades were best left alone—unless one was willing to pay the price. Crusade? Erin snorted. This was no crusade, this was her sinking her teeth into a story that would make her career as a journalist and avenge Emily’s death. Well, unless the story got her killed first.
She’d spent months getting an in on it, swallowing down the desire to throw up that afflicted her whenever Steve kissed her or pawed at her body. And now…She tightened her hold on the wheel, recalling just how quickly Josephine Wilkes’ expression had changed, from mildly interested to icy rage when she studied the pics in Erin’s phone. Okay, so she’d done a lot of illegal snooping to take those pics, using the hot romance between Steve and herself as a cover to access his family home on several occasions. Too bad Mama Josephine wasn’t as dense as her youngest son—but then, if she’d been that dumb she would not be heading the racketeering business she’d inherited from her husband years ago.
So here she was, driving madly for the safety of her home, south of the air field. Safety? Please! But now that they had her phone, now that they’d slapped her around a bit, maybe they thought she’d do the smart thing and just keep her head down. Huh. When she’d squeezed out of the narrow bathroom window and sprinted for her car, Erin had been as determined as ever to bring the Wilkes family down. Even more, actually, given that now it was personal, her face swollen and puffy after the repeated “love pats” from dear ex-boyfriend Steve.
Thunder crackled through the night and Erin jumped, the car swerving slightly. Shit! More thunder, and if anything the rain intensified, a veritable deluge that had her slowing her speed to a crawl. A flash of lightning illuminated the landscape and a huge bundle lying right in the middle of the crossroads. Was that a man? An outflung arm? Erin stepped on the brake. Too late. There was a dull thump when her fender connected with the object. For some moments, she just sat there, her hands clenched so tight round the steering wheel they hurt. On the radio, someone was singing about perfection.
From outside came a loud howl. It made her jump. Definitely a human voice and with a deep sigh Erin concluded her day had just gone from bad to worse. She’d just hit some poor idiot, although to be fair, it was just as much his fault as hers. What sort of moron would just lie on the middle of the road? An injured one, her brain told her, one that is even more injured now that you’ve run him over.
There was a gun in the glove compartment, and she tucked it into the waist of her jeans before getting out. One never knew, this could be one of Steve’s more subtle attempts at getting his hands on her, but the moment she thought it she dismissed it as ridiculous. Steve had little finesse, was way more into brutal intimidation. She shivered, uncertain if it was the rain or the thought of Steve that chilled her to the bone. The pile on the road groaned.
A man, she concluded some moments later. Dark hair plastered to his forehead, something that resembled a linen shirt stuck to his torso and long legs encased in weird pants and knee-high boots. Erin rolled her eyes. One of those Renaissance Fair types, she thought, placing a careful hand on his back to make sure he was still breathing.
“Hey,” she said, wiping at her face. “Are you okay?” Stupid, stupid question. The man’s eyes fluttered open.
“Hi,” she said, trying out a little smile.
“Hi?” He scooted out of reach and sat up, groaning loudly. He looked at her. His eyes widened. He blinked and looked again.
“Can you stand?” she asked him, wondering if it would be totally uncharitable to help him to the side and then drive off.
Aye? And what an odd accent. He sounded British, somehow.
The man lurched to his feet, took a step and promptly fell to his knees.
“Are you drunk?” she demanded. He clutched at his left leg and she was suffused with guilt. She’d broken his leg or something, and here she was accusing him of being drunk.
He looked at her. “I wish I was,” he said. “It would explain my hallucinations.”
“Aye.” His eyes narrowed. “Or are you real?” Once again, he stood, favouring his left leg. He was tall, well over six feet, and that shirt of his displayed an impressively broad chest. He was also bleeding from a gash on his forehead, his right sleeve was badly burned as was the forearm and hand, and he grimaced when he put weight on his left foot.
“Of course I’m real.” She grabbed hold of him when he swayed. He yelped and shied away, landing yet again on the ground.
“God’s fish!” he exclaimed. “You are real!”
What was the matter with him? She took a couple of steps away from him, uncomfortable by how he stared at her, as if she were some sort of apparition. Sort of rich, seeing as he was the one wearing weird clothes, not her.
“Where’s Lewis?” He filled his lungs. “Lewis!” he yelled. “Damn it man, where are you?”
“Not here,” Erin told him.
“But he was right behind me when…” He broke off, stared down at the crossroads and shuffled hastily to the side. “Where’s my horse?”
Erin shook her head. No horse. And who in their right mind would go riding in this weather? Some people took all that re-enactment stuff way too far.
“Who…” he began, but whatever he was about to say drowned in the sound of a large, revving engine. A huge van skidded to a stop and Erin hurled herself towards her car. Too late, and here came Steve, with that oaf Johnny and his dear cousin Marco. Johnny had hold of her before she reached the car. A twist, and he had her arm high up on her back, making her scream with pain.
“Let me go!” She kicked and fought.
Johnny just laughed. “Don’t think so. You’re coming with us.” He pulled her in the direction of the van.
“What, you thought we were done?” Steve asked. He glanced at the stranger, who was swaying on his feet. “Who’s he?”
“No idea. Let me go, you bastard!”
“Now, now: you know what we want. You give it to us and we’ll let you go. You don’t, and…” Whatever else Steve had planned on saying she’d never know—not that it took that much imagination to fill in the blanks. Instead, Steve was staggering back, staring at the stranger. An arm flew out, a fist connected with Steve’s face and he toppled backwards. The stranger turned her way.
“The lady said to let her go,” this oddly dressed apparition said. He pulled his sword as he advanced on Johnny.
“Seriously?” Johnny said with a sneer, pulling his gun. Erin took the opportunity offered, stomped down on his toes and pulled free, fumbling for her gun. Steve was back on his feet, stalking towards them.
“Watch out!” she yelled. The stranger swirled. His blade sliced through the air, Steve yelped. He wheeled again and his blade rapped down sharply on Johnny’s hand, sending the gun flying.
And then there was Marco, bringing down a cudgel on the stranger’s head. The stranger stumbled, regained his balance, ducked the next blow and punched Marco in the gut. With a growl, Johnny threw himself forward. Steve joined the fray. The stranger disappeared in a flurry of arms. Three against one was impossible odds—especially against someone like Johnny. But the stranger held his own for a while, giving as good as he got. At one point Steve screeched. The cudgel came whistling through the air and the stranger collapsed.
“Bastard!” Steve snarled, kicking at the poor man. “Who do you think you are, some sort of fucking Zorro?”
A number of dull thuds, booted feet lifted to stomp and Erin raised her gun and shot. Once. “Get away,” she yelled. “Back off or I’ll shoot you.”
Johnny laughed. “I’d like to see you try.”
“What? You don’t believe me?” She squeezed the trigger. Johnny collapsed, clutching at his thigh. She aimed at Steve. “You’re next,” she warned. “But this time I’ll aim for the head.”
“Let’s go, man.” Marco had hold of Johnny, was dragging him backwards. “We can always come and find her later.”
Erin shifted her aim and squeezed the trigger again. The bullet whizzed by Steve, close enough to make him yelp, nowhere close to actually hitting him.
“I see you anywhere close to me again and I’ll shoot first, ask questions later,” she said, trying to sound cool and unconcerned. She slid the stranger a look. He was lying very still on the ground. Was he dead?
“You’ll pay,” Steve said, retreating towards the van. “For Johnny, for fucking spying on us!”
“Yeah? Maybe I should tell dear Mama Josephine just how sloppy you are, leaving all sorts of information lying around.”
Even in the dark she could see him stumble. “Bitch!” he hissed. “You’ll regret this. And you’ll definitely regret not killing me when you had the chance.” He hauled himself into the van. The engine roared, gravel spitting every which way as the van sped off.
About the Author
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.
Find out more about Anna on her website or on her Amazon page. You can also follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 23
Guest Post at Novels Alive
Tuesday, August 24
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Excerpt at Books & Benches
Thursday, August 26
Review at Reader_ceygo
Friday, August 27
Review at Novels Alive
Monday, August 30
Review at With A Book In Our Hands
Wednesday, September 1
Review at The Book Review Crew
Friday, September 3
Excerpt at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Monday, September 6
Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals
Wednesday, September 8
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Friday, September 10
Review at Rajiv’s Reviews
Monday, September 13
Guest Post at Hoover Book Reviews
Wednesday, September 15
Review at Books, Writings, and More
Friday, September 17
Excerpt at Reading is My Remedy
Monday, September 20
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Tuesday, September 21
Review at Anna’s Book Blog
Wednesday, September 22
Excerpt at The Cozy Book Blog
Friday, September 24
Review at Passages to the Past
Monday, September 27
Excerpt at Cross My Heart Writing & Reviews
Wednesday, September 29
Review at Coffee and Ink
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Whirlpools of Time