To Love a Highland Dragon

Ann Gimpel
To Love a Highland Dragon


Hartwood Publishing
Release Date
September 2013
Book 1 of Dragon Lore
Paranormal Romance

A modern day psychiatrist and a dragon shifter stranded in time can't escape their destiny, no matter how unlikely it seems.

In a cave deep beneath Inverness, a dragon shifter stirs and wakens. The cave is the same and his hoard intact, yet Lachlan senses something amiss. Taking his human form, he ventures above ground with ancient memories flooding him. But nothing is the same. His castle has been replaced by ungainly row houses. Men aren't wearing plaids, and women scarcely wear anything at all.

In Inverness for a year on a psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Maggie Hibbins watches an oddly dressed man pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket. Even though it runs counter to her better judgment, she teases him about his strange attire. He looks so lost—and so unbelievably handsome —she takes him to a pub for a meal, to a barbershop, and then home. Along the way the hard-to-accept truth sinks in: he has to be a refugee from another era.

Never a risk-taker, Maggie finds her carefully constructed life changed forever. Swept up in an ancient prophecy that links her to Lachlan and his dragon, she must push the edges of the impossible to save both the present and her heart.

BOOK INTERVIEW on November 2013
Interview by Laura

Hi Ann, welcome once again to The Romance Reviews! We can't wait to hear all about your latest book!

Q: TO LOVE A HIGHLAND DRAGON is the first in a new series entitled Dragon Lore. What's your inspiration for this series? What is this series about?

Where does anyone's inspiration come from? One summer day, I was sitting in my computer chair, staring at a blank screen, with a bunch of should running around in my head. I have a number of series books and all the series needed tending--and more books. What came to me was the first scene from TO LOVE A HIGHLAND DRAGON, with Kheladin in his cave beneath Inverness just wakening after being ensorcelled years before. Of course, he's not quite sure how many years have passed... In any event, that was the beginning of this book. It just sort of sucked me in and all those should fell away. I figured I could go back to my other series books at any time. It's one of the things I adore about writing. The creative process can be very compelling.

Q: What is it about the mix of time travel and dragon shifters that fascinate you?

I've always been fascinated by time travel. Everyone has a different opinion about how it works. There's a broad continuum from the Star Trek view, where the Prime Directive forbids picking up so much as a pebble, to other science fiction, where time travellers actually alter the flow of future events. My content editor and I had some great discussions about time travel and this book. She came from one perspective; I approached it from another.

Shifters loom large in many of my books and I've always loved dragons. They're just so primal with their fire and heat and scales and greed (think hoards). Anyway, it seemed like a natural progression to create dragon shifter characters, but they needed their own personalities, which is why I went the route I did. More on that in question #5 below.

Q: Gods and goddesses, witches and dragons! Not to mention our sexy mage hero. So many characters abound in this story. How are you able to create such unique characters? What kind of research did you have to do to build your world?

My first profession was psychology. I have extensive training in Jungian analysis, so I'm no stranger to the dream world, dream symbols, and mythology. Making my female protag a psychiatrist (and a witch) was a natural for me, because it kicked open the door for her to know about many plot threads in the book, notably dreams, symbols from the unconscious mind, and gods/goddesses.

In terms of world building, I didn't have to do much research, since this is urban fantasy, which takes place in the real world. I've travelled to the U.K. and spent quite a bit of time in Scotland, so I can picture the places I write about. One of my Scottish readers suggested I should have used Prestwick airport, rather than Glasgow. She was likely correct, but since I always fly into Glasgow, it never occurred to me to choose a different airport. I love getting reader feedback like that. It really enriches my writing and the woman has become a wonderful fan.

Q: Please tell us more about Dr. Maggie Hibbins. What kind of woman is she? What kind of role does her profession (she's a psychiatrist) play?

Maggie is a strong, self-contained woman. She lost both parents when she was very young in a feud with a rival coven, so she decided at an early age that magic wasn't trustworthy. She chooses the mortal world over learning about magic from her coven. Her grandmother finds it humorous when Maggie goes to medical school. She teases Maggie about witches being wonderful healers, but Maggie doesn't find it funny.

To ignore the Siren call of her magic, Maggie structures her life very carefully, until she sees Lachlan pick his way out of a heather and gorse thicket, and then all bets are off. Swept up in a prophecy that links her to Lachlan and his dragon, Maggie embraces her magic and kicks herself for being so stubborn early on.

I made Maggie a psychiatrist because she needed training in dream analysis and a basic understanding of the symbolic representations the unconscious sends us in our dreams. I also needed her to not be rattled by the unusual and capable of accepting who and what Lachlan was.

It takes a special woman to love a dragon shifter. Especially one who is hundreds of years old.

Q: Your dragon shifter is unique in that he wasn't born like that. In fact, it was Lachlan, a human mage, and Kheladin, a dragon, who decided to merge and share their life force so many years ago. Why did they make such a choice? How did such a merging change them? What kind of man did Lachlan become as a result of the merge?

Lachlan gave up a great deal to become a dragon shifter. It was one of those life-altering paths that forged who he became. He studied for hundreds of years to hone his magic so a dragon would want to bond with him. Kheladin was young (for a dragon) when they bonded, yet he, too, was certain of what he wanted. In many ways, the two of them were stronger together than they'd been as individuals.

All gifts come with strings attached. The bond conferred immortality on both man and dragon, but it also bound them to occupy one form or the other. When they were in Lachlan's body, Kheladin's essence was within him, and vice versa. This arrangement led to some very interesting conversations, since they maintained their own personalities, despite sharing a body.

I believe the dragon shifter bond added grace, maturity, and wisdom for both man and dragon. Over centuries, they came to appreciate and respect one another. There's more, but it involves a serious plot spoiler, so I'll stop here.

Q: What about Kheladin? How did he see Maggie and her role in his relationship with Lachlan?

Kheladin welcomes Maggie into his bond with Lachlan. He confers a mating bite on her, which is the highest honour. He also allows her to ride him, something no one else has ever done.

Q: What was the most romantic moment Lachlan did for Maggie?

Lachlan fights his way back from the fifteen hundreds to re-join Maggie in the present. He leaves behind family, friends, and a familiar life. He's appalled by how the world has changed between the Scotland he left and 2012, but Maggie is everything to him and he'll do whatever he needs to to stand by her side. Kheladin is in full agreement. Both mage and dragon recognize their destiny in Maggie.

Q: Aw, that's sweet. What was your favourite scene? Why?

Enjoy the following excerpt!

Being ordered about rankled; Maggie swallowed back her instinctive reaction to protest and adopt a defensive posture. She was plenty scared. The coppery taste of it flooded her mouth. Her heart hammered wildly. The air in the room darkened. When she peered through the murk, it was obvious the Celts were just as uncomfortable as the witches. The gods and goddess bunched in groups of twos and threes, hands raised to rain destruction down on whatever threatened them.

Maybe it's Rhukon, and we can at least wipe his sorry ass off the face of the Earth.

Fire erupted out of nowhere; small flames flickered in a corner of the room. Smoke filled the air. Maggie coughed and instinctively hunkered closer to the floor where the air would be clearer.

"Enough," a voice rang out. "Ye'll suffocate the lot of them, and us, too, if ye burn up all the air feeding your fire."

"Lachlan!" Maggie sprang upright and stared through the murky air.

"It could be a trick," Mary Elma warned. Sparks flew from her outstretched hands.

"Aye," Ceridwen said. "Doona relax your guard."

The air was so thick with fire and magic it felt like a live thing. The unmistakable sound of wing beats filled her ears. Kheladin. It's Lachlan and the dragon, but why can't they get through?

"Drop the shielding around this room," Maggie shouted.

"Now why would we want to do that?" Andraste raised a graceful hand to her mouth and coughed into it.

"Because I know I'm right. It's Lachlan. He's found us. He and Kheladin, but they can't get in."

"Don't make me laugh, girl." Andraste smirked. "Ye forget yourself. Ye havena enough magic to keep a toy ship afloat, yet ye're issuing orders."

The fire roared into life. A hole formed around it like a ragged doorway that got bigger and bigger. Maggie broke through the witches' circle and raced forward. She sent her magic ahead of her. Working blind, she urged it to rip whatever was keeping Lachlan apart from her to shreds. A copper wing punched through, followed by the rest of the dragon with Lachlan on his back.

She didn't understand how she did it, but Maggie launched herself through the air and landed right behind Lachlan. She wrapped her arms around him and held on for dear life. Tears streamed down her face. Coughing, choking, crying, she gasped his name over and over again and showered kisses on his neck, his hair, any part she could reach.

"I know ye're happy to see him," Kheladin rumbled, "but what about me?"

"Oh my God, I didn't mean to leave you out. I love you, too. How could I love one and not the other? I've thought of both of you constantly, ever since I realized Lachlan wasn't in the dressing room in that shop in Fort William." She unwound a hand from Lachlan and patted Kheladin's scaled hide.

"Lass, oh, Maggie. Maggie, my love." Lachlan twisted, tried to hug her, kiss her, but their position was so awkward, body parts just bumped into one another.

The smoky air was clearing. Someone must have opened windows, or worked magic, or done something. Maggie didn't care. All she wanted was Lachlan's arms around her, his body pressed close, his lips on hers. "We have to get down, so I can hold you."

"Aye, lass. Hold tight, and I'll move us."

"Before you do that," she buried her hands in his hair, "I love you. One of the worst parts of thinking I'd never see you again was knowing I'd never told you how much you mean to me."

He leaned back against her and turned his head. "I love you, too, lassie. Take a deep breath, and we'll be on the ground in a trice."

Q: What scene was most difficult to write, either because of its emotional intensity or level of technical difficulty?

Perhaps not a scene so much, as an issue that ran throughout the book. Keeping Lachlan's word usage and lack of knowledge about modern day terminology and things like cars and computers congruent with who he was, presented an ongoing challenge. My editors and I were still tweaking things long after the book was written.

Q: Which character was the hardest to write? Why?

Mary Elma, Maggie's crusty witch grandmother. She had to be no-nonsense and harsh, but have enough soft edges to make her loveable to readers. Bottom line is Mary Elma adores her granddaughter, but Maggie walked away from her witch heritage, which both infuriated and confused Mary Elma. One of the most powerful witches on the planet, Mary Elma has been working on figuring out how to maintain a relationship with her granddaughter outside the coven--without stuffing magic down her unwilling throat. While she hasn't done a bad job, she still hopes Maggie will reconsider and reclaim her witch heritage.

Q: What's up next in the series? Please give us a sneak peek.

Next in this series is Iron Maid, releasing in either early January or early February. Here's the blurb:

Jonathan Shea is a software engineer. When pressed, he admits to being a closet witch, but he's always been a shade ambivalent about his magic--until a dragon shows up in Inverness, and then all bets are off. Along with others in his coven, Jonathan is both charmed and captivated by the creature fresh out of legend.

Britta is a dragon shifter. Dragged from the Middle Ages by the Celtic gods, she and her dragon prepare for a battle to save Earth. The first human she lays eyes on in modern times is Jonathan. There's something about him. She can't quite pinpoint it, but he has way more magic than any witch she's ever come across before.

Surrounded by dragon shifters, Celtic gods, Selkies, and a heaping portion of magic, Jonathan comes into his own fast. Good thing, too, because fell creatures have targeted him, Britta, and the dragons. In the midst of chaos, he finds passion so poignant and love so heartbreakingly tender, it will change his life forever.

Q: What's up next for you?

I just finished a 60K word book about demon chasing witches who are the last of their kind. Colleen, Jenna, and Roz run a magicians' supply store in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska. One stormy winter day, a Sidhe walks into their shop looking for Colleen. Turns out he needs her demon-stalking ability... Of course the Sidhe is so gorgeous, he's hard to look at for very long, but Colleen works her way through that little problem. And a whole bunch of others. I had a lot of fun with all the twists and turns in this story getting to an HEA for my hero and heroine.

Next book in line to be written is the sequel to Miranda's Mate. So Book 2 in The Company Store Series.

For those of you who loved my shifter menage, Alice's Alpha, Noreen's Choice will be released on 11/4. Book 2 in the Wolf Clan Shifter series, it features Noreen and her mates, Les and Karl. Alice, Jed, and the boys from Book 1 are there, too. So far, the pre-release reviews have been awesome!

That's great! Thanks for being with us to talk to about your latest novel. It's a pleasure to have you with us!


Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in over a dozen webzines, magazines, and anthologies. Twelve paranormal romance novels from Liquid Silver Books are available in e-format. Six urban fantasy novels Psyche's Prophecy, Psyche's Search, Psyche's Promise, Fortune's Scion, Earth's Requiem, and To Love a Highland Dragon are small press publications available in e-format, with selected titles also in paperback. Look for two more urban fantasy novels coming this winter: Iron Maid and Earth's Blood.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.



Roman's Gold

Wolf Born

Earth's Requiem

Miranda's Mate

Alice's Alpha


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