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Title: HIS KILT DROPPED HERE: A MAGICAL REALISM SCOTTISH ROMANCE
Author: Kathleen Shaputis
Publisher: Clutter Fairy Publishing
Pages: 170
Genre: Magic Realism Scottish Romance

BOOK BLURB:

Rogue Bruce enjoys running a Scottish castle turned bed-and-breakfast with her Aunt Baillie from America. They specialize in hosting romantic Elizabethan-themed weddings, complete with resident ghost, Lord Kai. But love is something Rogue is not the least bit interested in. Content with her work, she requires no male accompaniment for happiness.

A new delivery service brings Bruce MacKenzie, a Thor look-alike in plaid and denim, fetching more than the usual number of groceries from town, while Jonathan Olson, a snobbish, dark, Rhett Butler type, arrives at the castle to administer a writing seminar for aspiring authors. With two men after the heart she’d thought safely locked away, Rogue is flattered and confused. But when things start to take a sinister turn, danger befalls Rogue and those dear to her. The musical soundtrack of Rogue’s life flares from complacent, to dizzyingly romantic, to heart-thumping scary in this sizzling triangle.

Chapter One

“Who created these torture devices for women?” Rogue Bruce muttered as the high-heeled ankle boots her glittery Seattle friend, Rafael, had picked out for her squeezed her toes. Her steps made soft clicks on the temporary polished flooring as she dashed around the white-silk-draped chairs inside the reception tent set up on the castle grounds. She lifted her floor-length emerald skirt of fluff and ribbons and screamed internally about her aching feet. “Spike heels make my legs look better, she tells me. Heels? Seriously? Buried under twenty yards of bloody material, who will even notice? I swear, and this dress weighs a ton.”

And why must my bloody underwear be authentic if no one knows or sees it? Seriously, another full day of endless agony in this restrictive Elizabethan costume of layered torture is maddening. You know an evil man must have created the corset. No woman would have designed something so miserable and called it fashionable. How many times had she pleaded with Aunt Baillie to let her wear something soft, something comfortable like pants and a jacket during these events? Her aunt’s normally sweet face would transform into a stony glare, forcing Rogue to relent and don one of the many costumes made specifically for her as owner of the Scottish estate.

“The Baillie Castle Bed and Breakfast promises a fairy-tale environment for couples in love and bridal parties creating a stop-time fantasy for families and guests,” Rogue mimicked her American aunt and business partner. “Remember, these expensive weddings pay the taxes and daily upkeep of your renovated castle.”

Rogue could barely breathe in the tightly wrapped bodice as she rounded out of the heated white tent, her eyes on the temporary stone path placed in the soggy Scottish mud. Plowing into something solid, Rogue cursed and frantically reached out, wobbling on the spiked heels. Grabbing at anything, her fingers found soft, crushable flannel before warm, strong hands wrapped around her wrists. Staring at the manly fingers holding her steady, Rogue’s eyes traveled up the long, chiseled arms of a young man to his concerned face, locking eyes with her.

“Ya be all right, miss?”

His baritone voice tickled her ears, causing the breath to catch in her throat as the heat from his grasp flushed in a wave across her face. All she could handle was a weak nod. Staring at his serious face framed with shaggy blond hair, a chill breeze lifted the bangs from his ruddy forehead. His oddly green eyes blinked above a well-freckled nose and broke the spell.

Rogue stiffened her body and checked her balance before pulling her arms away. “Of course, I am. Just dinna expect anyone to be in the reception area this time of the afternoon.” Rogue brushed her trembling fingers against the flounce of her skirt. “It’s the middle of May, and the paying guests are huddled by the fireplaces inside as if it were bloody January, wondering why the wedding isn’t in some tropical place like Hawaii.” Trying to control her nervousness but having trouble drawing breath in front of such a gorgeous male creature, she asked, “Who are you?”

“Aye, sorry, “My name is Bruce, Miss Rogue, Bruce MacKenzie, delivery service from the village.” The man pulled gloves from a back pocket. “I was checking with Putney one last time to be sure she has all she needs for today before I leave.”

“Ya seemed a wee bit familiar, but we’ve a crowd of local security today on the grounds. Ya could have been one of the guards. You’ve the size and all.”

“Aye, I’ve had to show credentials a few times today.” The edge of his full lips pulled into a crooked grin. “I’ve been delivering vegetables, breads, and such to Putney from town over the last nine months since my da passed away. I’ve seen you now an’ again in the stable door, I have, with your hands full of currycombs or muckrakes during my times here. Nice to see there’s a lady side of ya.”

Rogue steeled herself not to bark something rude at his personal remark. Who admitted to watching someone without her knowing? And what did he mean about her lady side? Wearing some historical costume had nothing to do with who she was inside. The man had the manners of a goat. She took a slow, deep breath, forcing something polite. “Putney has mentioned good things about ya and, uh, ya service.” She bowed her head, clenching her teeth.

Keeping her head down, willing her pounding heart to return to normal, Rogue clutched her skirts. “Well, I, uh, I have much to do before the wedding. I best be going.”

Bruce tugged on his gloves, shuffling his feet. “I hear everyone has to clear the premises before the ceremony. Is some big movie star taking vows this time? I dinna bring near the crates of caviar or champagne Putney usually orders for the fancy events ya hold here. Seemed a bit odd.”

“Aye, this inna our typical wedding booked at the Baillie Castle, but the oldest daughter of some actor trying to dodge mass publicity if ya must know. The family requested utmost privacy for their ceremony, a simpler affair.” Her voice dropped to a loud whisper despite herself. “I’m thinking she’s in a family way and alcohol will be limited.”

Nodding his head, Bruce wiped a gloved hand under his nose. “I need to get back to the shop. Tell Putney to call me if she needs something.” He scuffed the toe of his worn boot against one of the stepping stones. “See ya, Miss Rogue.”

The sight of his retreating backside in tight jeans sent a warmth of fiery hormones cloaking her against the dampness of perspiration. Rogue’s mind blanked; with no idea what she was originally going to do before the sudden run in with the delicious jerk of a delivery guy, she picked up her skirts with a swish and headed toward the castle’s kitchen.

She had never felt such an intense frustration and intrigue talking to a strange man, let alone a local one. With the castle being a romantic spot for weddings and celebrations, she had met gorgeous, rich men from around the world. Yet the flash of his green eyes while he held her hands, sent irritating bolts inside her thumping heart. Blowing her cheeks out, she wrinkled her nose. “‘Nice to see there’s a lady side of ya’ he has the nerve to say.” She pounced across the moat’s wooden bridge, ignoring the dancing caps of windblown onyx water below, and into the kitchen. The heavy oak door closed against the outside coolness as aromas of spices and sweet bakery smells wrapped her in a warm, soothing hug.

“Child, you’ll be snapping the heels right off those shoes, clunking that way. Dinna Miss T-Cup and Rafael show you better than that?” Putney looked over her thick shoulder, her plump cheeks red from the heat of the oven, a strand of damp, gray hair dangling from her tight bun. “Did ya learn nothing ladylike from those glitzy drag queen friends of yours and them spending so much time trying to coach ya?”

Rogue blinked at the feisty cook, a natural foundation of castle life since the first day she’d arrived years ago. “Ah, Putney, donna I wish the girls were here this very minute.” She pinched a broken piece of scone and popped it in her mouth. How she would love to pick Rafael and T-Cup’s glittered brains right now about a certain delivery guy she’d run into, literally. Why would he think clothes made a difference, a lady? What was wrong with the jeans and boots she typically lived in? Local chauvinist.

“Ya had your way, they’d live here full time. Poor wee things would wither away if stuck out here in the wilds as they say of the hielands, from sheer boredom if nothing else.” Chuckling, she smacked her hip. “They exhaust me during their visits from America. And donna get me started on the smooth-talking Mr. Gillian Nation and his plume-waving ways. He’ll get no mocha, whatcha, latte crazy coffee from me just for his bit of flirting.”

Rogue gave a single nod, staring beyond the cook’s shoulder, her motionless hands still holding a scone. The delivery guy had seen her often during his trips to the castle? Why had she not noticed this local hottie before? Why hadn’t Putney said anything? She nearly slapped her hand against her forehead. Putney had done nothing but talk about Bruce MacKenzie. The old woman had given speeches and passionate soliloquies all winter long about the new single businessman Rogue should be concentrating on, as she wasn’t getting any younger. She’d pretty much ignored the cook’s deluge. Good-looking single men came in and out of the bed and breakfast, but that didn’t mean she needed to introduce herself to each one. She was quite content between her work here at the castle and taking care of her horses.

“Girl, the bloody sky’s falling.” The cook kept her voice even, not changing her tone. “The moon will be full and purple with stripes tonight, I hear.”

Another vacant nod to whatever Putney was rambling about would tide her over. Rogue popped a bite of scone in her mouth. He must get those muscles from lifting and carrying such heavy bags of flour and sugar for all the baking going on around town every week. And who knows how many other deliveries he makes in a day? An independent man at least, inheriting his work much like I did.  

Rogue stared at the cook without focus, watching the older woman turn back to the pastries and silver platters, running a work-reddened hand across her damp forehead.

An ancient looking man with angel-white hair shuffled into the room, wearing fancy black suspenders against the crisp white shirt his wife, Putney, forced him to wear on these occasions. Before speaking a word, his eyes caught Putney’s, and Rogue caught the cook tilting her head back toward her on the other side of the room.

Robbie twisted to peek around the vision of his hefty bride of forty-five years, then shrugged, and moved to grab a biscuit. The noise of her slapping his hand away with a snort broke Rogue’s concentration, and she let out a long sigh.

“Sounds like the weight of the world is nestled on those young shoulders,” he said in her direction. “Ya havena looked so begotten since them flouncy diva women ya make such a fuss over left last summer.” He rubbed his weathered cheek. “But they’ll be back in a few weeks, aye?”

Rogue cleared her throat; had she sent up red flags of concern? She didn’t want the old couple nosing around in her direction. She gave the couple a brilliant smile, as if she’d just entered the room. “Yes, you’re most right, Robbie. It’s but a blink of the eye before they return in all their splendor and glamour.” She snapped her fingers in a z-motion like T-Cup had shown her. “And we got a wedding today.” She marched out of the room, her floor-length skirt rustling, and heard Putney whisper as she left.

“Lost, I tell ya, mooning like a she-wolf in heat she was.”



Baillie glanced over the final lists and papers for the celebrity wedding taking place in a few hours. She’d found a quiet spot in the library to concentrate on the last-minute details when her cell phone vibrated. The caller id noted Olympia, Washington, and she snatched it by the second muted ring.

“Sally,” she said with a smile. “Happy Valentine’s Day to my best long-distance assistant.”

Sally laughed. “Your only assistant over here. How’s the special V-Day celebration going?”

“So far, so good. Just another over-the-top extravaganza, my dear. But the security on this one is nearly strangling the staff.” Both women chuckled. “How’s your divorce going?”

“George has been amicable about everything, I guess,” Sally sighed. “I can’t imagine what I would have done without you letting Casie and I move into your apartment upstairs at Pen and Pages. It’s been a godsend, Baillie. I will never be able to repay your generosity.” Baillie heard sniffling. “Casie even gets to stay in her school district and catches the bus right in front of the shop. I can’t tell you how much this means to me as a new single mom.”

Baillie closed her eyes and conjured her beloved bookstore nestled in firs and maple trees in her mind. She knew Sally was taking good care of her business. The woman was a Godsend.

“And, of course, your cat, Sebastian, is being spoiled something awful. I swear he knows what time the bus arrives and greets her at the shop door after school. He’s like her own Lassie.”

Baillie looked out the library windows patterned in black iron, the rectangles of leaded glass showing the glint of obsidian movement in the dark moat below as Sally continued talking. Mesmerized by a single ray of light breaking through the quilt of soft gray across the sky, Baillie moved closer to the window. A siren’s call from the water filled her heart with familiar song, a soothing contentment to her excited soul.

Outside she watched the wind ripple the white monstrosity’s roof panels in a gentle rhythm, the reception area for tonight, a few of the white-draped chairs barely visible. A smile played on her lips as she watched her inherited niece, Rogue, smack right into that gorgeous local delivery kid Putney always raved about. She let out a sharp noise, hoping the girl didn’t fall on her rear in the mud from the bodily impact.

“What was that? Are you listening to me? Have you heard anything I’ve said?” Sally’s voice increased in volume over the phone’s speaker. “What did that ghost of a Highlander do now? Lord Kai can’t hog all of you just because it’s Valentine Day. I deserve some too, you know. This is not a favorite day of mine right now.”

A quick tingle down her spine at the mention of Kai’s name pulled her away from the activity beyond the window, and she concentrated on Sally. “No, no Kai around, truly, just Rogue blindsiding the cute delivery boy down below. Putney swears they would be the perfect couple, but I don’t think this is quite the romantic introduction Putney was hoping for, though pretty memorable, I guess, as first meetings go.”

“Seriously?”

“She plowed right into the guy coming out of the reception tent. Rogue’s not the most graceful thing in heels though Gillian and his girls keep working on her every chance they get.” She peeked out the window again, the two were talking, always a good sign and no stains or tears on her dress. “See, my distraction was all about Rogue, no mushy stuff from Kai this time.”

Baillie stifled a laugh at her vision of Sally settling her ruffled feathers on the other side of the world. “Sweetie, I have to finish these lists and get out there or it will be off with my head by the bride’s father. The fee from this one event is more than we made last year. Some people and their bottomless checkbooks are a nice reward, especially after the hard work and obnoxious secrecy this one has caused.”

“Must be nice hobnobbing with the rich and famous while I slave away at the old bookstore.”

Baillie snapped a group of the papers into a clipboard while rolling her eyes. “I hear the world’s tiniest violins in the background, dear.” Both women giggled. “You’ll be out here before you know it for my wedding.” She heard the tinkling of bells from the shop’s door in the background. “See? You have a customer, go make us some money and I’ll talk to you soon. Tell Miss Casie hi for me.” She tapped the screen disconnecting her call.



Bruce stopped his Ford delivery truck at the empty crossroads a mile before town, looking left and right for clearance, when his vision blurred into the tantalizing image of the local celebrity Rogue Baillie Bruce in a dress. Not any style of dress you’d see in church or a fancy restaurant on the girls in town, but like she’d stepped out of an epic movie about ancient times. Like royalty, with her hair done up off her shoulders with ribbons—a bewitching style, he noted.

The temperature inside the truck cab increased as he replayed their brief conversation, her nearness as he steadied her from falling. After the months of seeing her out by the stables in boots and jeans, his heart had pounded at the view of her plowing into him. The tight top half of the dress hugged her slight figure, showing her cream-colored neck and cleavage; her russet-brown hair pulled into fancy curls atop her head made her more beautiful than he could have imagined. He’d wanted nothing more than to pull her closer and caress the smooth curve of her exposed neck with his lips, like a knight of old claiming the princess after a joust, a crazy split-second notion of make-believe.

Bruce snorted. Like he had a chance in the world of dating the richest woman in the county. Word in town, as well as stories from Putney herself during his deliveries, confirmed that Rogue and some American relative of hers had made the haunted castle into a popular bed and breakfast concept. Their business had practically put their town on the international map. And he’d also heard the vineyards next door belonged to Ms. Bruce; after all, she’d started her own wine label, so it made sense.

Yet time and again, Putney cooed about the young woman, filling his head and dreams with romantic notions like some matchmaker witch, she did. None of them exaggerations, mind you. The woman was everything and more Putney had described her as. But why in the world would a bloody wealthy, gorgeous heiress be interested in the likes of him?

Though she hadn’t run away from him today, hadn’t bit his head off to let her go, the look on her face seemed to say otherwise. That was something, aye?  

“Da,” he whispered aloud, “I met the most incredible woman today. I think she’s the one, I do, like you told me as a boy how I’d ken when I found her, a woman like Ma.” His hands gripped the steering wheel making the dry, rugged lines of his fingers almost white. “A woman of grit and softness, she is, in one fair package. As Ma took your breath away, aye, so does Rogue do mine, Da.”

A montage of images over the last months rolled through his mind: her stepping out of the barn holding a leather harness of the four-legged black beast Putney called Dougal while he crossed the bridge with a case of groceries in his arms. The cook told him stories of the indelible bond between the monster of a black stallion and Rogue, raising a heat of ire in his heart, almost a jealousy of their friendship.

“She’ll no bother with a lowly businessman, though. She’s the closest thing our town has to a princess, with her name and photo showing up in the daily papers. Da, what am I gonna do? The beautiful enchantress has stolen my heart.”

The blast of a horn behind him knocked Bruce from his heavenly conversation. Stomping the gas pedal, he bolted back toward the village, leaving his fantasy for bland reality once again.

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Kathleen Shaputis lives in the glorious Pacific Northwest with her husband, Bob, a clowder of cats and three pompously protective Pomeranians with little social aptitude: Brugh, Bouncer and Miss Jazzy. If not writing, she’s busy reading and watching romantic comedies, her ultimate paradise.

Her latest book is Their Witch Wears Plaid.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK

 

Would you call yourself a born writer?  

Absolutely, my DNA is actually colourful scribbles and characters. I wrote plays and stories in the second and third grade which became productions in the backyard using the clothesline for the stage curtain. Dialogue then and now is my favorite part. My imagination knew no bounds in creating invisible people, animals and ideas. I would scare myself plotting out a dramatic scene when I should have been working on multiplication tables.

What was your inspiration for Their Witch Wears Plaid

I have been fascinated with psychics and palm readers most of my life. And being of Scottish descent, I’ve dreamed of living in the moors of Scotland. What better fun than to blend these two fantasies together in a magical realism storyline. Years ago I discovered a talented and incredible acquaintance who is a palm reader here in Olympia, Washington and she became the inspiration for Lady Nell.

What themes do you like to explore in your writing? 

Strong, independent women characters are a staple in my books. Despite what happens around them or to them, they struggle to remember who they are. Lightness, laughter, looking at the world with rose-tinted glasses are also important. Though I have written darker stories, I most enjoy romantic comedies.

How long did it take you to complete the novel? 

This one took about nine months to complete as I suffer from Meniere’s Disease and find it difficult to stare at a computer screen for more than an hour or so without feeling seasick and dizzy. I take a notebook with me wherever I go and can write scenes or dialogue passages whenever I get the chance.

Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day. 

Um, somewhat. I am up before the dawn usually and those first quiet hours of the morning are my ideal time to write. The windows near my computer face west, unfortunately, so I don’t get the excitement of sun rises, but the general lightening of the world outside. However, I also use this time for social media and reading the headlines of the news.

What did you find most challenging about writing this book? 

Actually, giving the male lead enough script time – he probably could have used more. I see my novels as a movie playing out in my mind and many times during the early drafts I found myself asking, “What happened to Galen? Where is he?”

What do you love most about being an author? 

Creating characters, they can be much more rewarding and pliable than real people. Listening to their lives play out, knowing their dreams and wishes, is quite powerful. As an author you wear many hats: creator, director, producer and casting supervisor.

Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision? 

I’ve done all three throughout the list of my books. However, for Their Witch Wears Plaid, I first offered it to the Simon & Schuster imprint Crimson Romance who published the first two books in the series: Her Ghost Wears Kilts and His Lass Wears Tartan. They passed on the story and I ended up self-publishing. There are pros and cons to both traditionally publishing (whether a big sister house or small press) versus doing it yourself. And each attribute of the process has pros and cons: Cover design, editing, marketing. With DIY, you have control with the cover design. This is fulfilling but can be expensive, as you shouldn’t do the design yourself. It’s like your book is wearing a dress to the top awards ceremonies, would you rather it wear a professional designer gown or something you made from home?

Where can we find you on the web?

Blog Address: http://kathleenshaputis.com

Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/NWAuthor

Facebook Address:  https://www.facebook.com/KathleenShaputisAuthor/

 

 

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