I had the pleasure of reading not only my first novel by author C.A. Szarek, but also my first ever time travel romance novel. I devoured The Tartan MP3 Player–which is book one in the Highland Secrets trilogy–in a matter of hours.
First of all I love the story’s premise, which is summed up wonderfully by the author’s short blurb: Claire gets sucked into 1672, naked and scared. Duncan rescues her only to realize she’s the key to finding his brother who was kidnapped by the Fae. Can they work together and both get what they want? Will sudden passion for each other change their goals?
The chemistry between Claire and Duncan is undeniable, and really, who could blame Claire for being smitten? Duncan’s a hot, kilt-wearing Scottish lad with a sexy brogue. And what man–from the past, present or future–wouldn’t fall head over heels for an attractive mystery woman who shows up on the beach naked?
I have to hand it to Szarek, she packed a lot of story into this novella and I particularly liked the dialogue between Duncan and Claire. One doesn’t speak Gaelic and the other can’t understand all the nuances in our modern day vernacular, yet I felt the author showed how sexual attraction can break through time and language barriers.
I’ll admit, I don’t typically read fantasy. Usually it’s because the genre seems intimidating or too involved for me. Even though there are aspects of the fantasy genre throughout the novel: the Fae, time travel and trips to other realms, those instances aren’t over used. Szarek did a great job of interspersing fantasy elements just enough to create a compelling story, but created complex characters with enough emotions, motives and wit to carry the story through.
I really enjoyed this novel, 4.5 stars!
The Tartan MP3 Player blurb:
Book One in the time travel, fantasy romance trilogy, Highland Secrets!
She never believed in magic…
Claire McGowan, Scotophile and historical romance novel addict, finally saves up enough for her dream vacation to Scotland.
She never imagines she’ll get sucked back to the seventeenth century while running on the beach—that’s what she gets for exercising when she should be relaxing.
He knows with a harsh certainty magic exists…
The Fae have taken his brother—Laird of his clan. Duncan MacLeod finds a bonnie naked and confused lass. He’s convinced Claire arrived in 1672 through the Faery Stones—a magical portal he’s been scouring the lands for over the past six months.
At last, he has someone who’s been through the Faery Stones and can help him find them—and get his brother back.
Duncan promises to help Claire get home, even though his desire to have her wars with his vow.
Torn between familiarity of the present and what she wants in the past, can Claire help Duncan find his brother and get back to the future? Will she even want to?
“Who goes there?” A deep, accented voice made her jump.
Her MP3 player crashed to the sand, the wires from her headphones ripping over her shoulders as they flew away from her body, but she didn’t go after the devices.
Claire’s heart kicked into overdrive, and she shot her arm across her naked breasts. Plastered her palm over her bare sex.
“Okay, don’t like this dream anymore.” Her voice jumped up an octave.
Why can’t I wake up?
Maybe a touch of fright would make her wake the hell up.
“Ummm….hello?” Claire ventured even though her pulse pounded in her temples. She didn’t see the voice’s owner, but she was stuck now.
Not like I can run and hide.
She wasn’t fond of a stranger seeing her nude, even if gym time had given her a rockin’ body.
Claire smirked. Her sister would’ve declared her egotistical right then and there.
Three figures came into view, standing atop a grassy overhang and staring down at her. Two men and a boy.
“Lass?” One asked.
Okay, no more Scottish Highlander romance novels before bed for you, Claire McGowan. But at least she’d placed the accent.
All three were dressed in period clothing. Like—seventeen hundreds or something. The tallest one had a tartan kilt on.
The man who’d spoken was older, wearing a thick grey beard he was currently scratching, as if he was trying to figure her out.
Well, duh. Naked girl on the beach at the ass crack of dawn should do it every time.
The boy looked about ten. He scrambled down the incline, stopping about three feet from her and staring. Wide blue eyes. Dark, messy hair that needed a good cut.
Claire backed up, squeezing her eyes shut. “Seriously, wake up.” Though she should pat herself on the back for the vivid imagination—if she didn’t have to cover her tender parts—she would’ve so been on that.
This place looked and felt real.
“Are ye Fae?” The kid’s brogue was thick, but his voice was high, making him sound younger than she’d guessed.
“Wh-what?” Claire asked, taking another step back.
“Angus, hush.” The last man admonished. His voice was familiar; he’d been the one who’d called out first.
He jumped down to the beach with little effort.
Claire almost forgot to cover herself as she gazed up at him.
Had to be about six-five or six-six.
Definitely had a foot on her, for sure.
Blue eyes, like the kid. Long black hair that flowed in the wind. He was wearing a kilt, and had the same tartan pattern strewn across his body, shoulder to waist and held down with a belt, but no shirt beneath. A huge, defined pec peeked out and her stomach fluttered.
Good job, Claire. At least you dreamt up someone yummy.
The model on the cover of the book she’d been reading before bed had nothing on this guy.
“Lass? Are ye all right?” His voice was concerned, as was his expression. He spoke gently.
Way to go on the stutter, Clair-bear. Her sister’s nickname popped into her head with ease. It should’ve grounded her, but she still didn’t wake up.
“She talks funny, uncle!”
How can he tell?
She’d said two words, literally.
“Where am I?” Claire whispered. The sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach made her shift on her feet.
“Isle of Skye.” The boy jumped up and down. “We were supposed to go fishing. But I found ye, instead.”
“Hush, Angus MacLeod,” the man said, but there was amusement in his tone. However, he didn’t take his eyes off Claire.
A tremor slid down her spine when his gaze travelled her frame.
She wanted to sink into the sand, her earlier confidence about her body gone. Claire shivered, her teeth chattered.
“Jesu, lass. Yer freezin’.” The huge man unbelted the plaid from his waist and whipped it off his torso. It was a separate piece from his kilt, and now he stood before her bare chested. His accent was as thick as the boy’s, but she could make his words out clearer.
Sexy as hell.
“Yeah, kinda naked over here.” A nervous titter fell from her lips and made Claire wince.
“Is she Fae, uncle?” Angus asked.
“Ye’ve been spending too much time with my father. Da, stop clouding the lad’s head with faery tales,” the man called.
The old guy on the hill chuckled. “Och, then ye shouldna leave the lad with me when you go off.”
“Like I have a choice.”
Here’s where to buy The Tartan MP3 Player:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tartan-mp3-player-ca-szarek/1118893645?ean=9781941151044
Apple iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/the-tartan-mp3-player/id842748066?mt=11
About The Author:
C.A. is originally from Ohio, but got to Texas as soon as she could. She is married and has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.
She works with kids when she’s not writing.
She’s always wanted to be a writer and is overjoyed to share her stories with the world.
To learn more, visit C.A. Szarek on her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and website.
C.A. Szarek is also author of Collision Force, Chance Collision, and Sword’s Call.