Thursday, July 16, 2020

Sneak Peek Excerpt & Giveaway - - The Quest by Pam Binder

The Quest
by Pam Binder
Publisher: Wild Rose Press (Trade Paperback and e-book)
Release Date: July 29, 2020
ISBN-10: 1509231854
ISBN-13: 978-1509231850

*The Quest was originally published in 2015 but has
been substantially revised and updated for its 2020 release.

Ana needs a medieval warrior to free her mother . . .

But instead she conjures up an NFL quarterback

Desperate to free her imprisoned mother, medieval highland apprentice witch Ana de Dannon has one chance. Her evil stepbrother has offered her mother’s freedom if she finds a champion who defeats him in a tournament. Even though Ana senses his offer is a trap, she summons a legendary warrior for the battle. But instead of Cuchulainn, a famous 21st century quarterback appears.

Kenneth MacKinnon (Mac) is stunned he has traveled to 14th century Scotland but agrees to help Ana free her mother for a chance to return to the future. As Ana trains Mac for the competition, his tournament skills grow, but so does an attraction between them. She discovers he possesses a kind heart under his arrogance, but he has much to learn. Will she and her beloved warrior who calls himself an athlete be able to escape with her mother—and their lives?

Excerpt of The Quest


Mac struggled to open his eyes. The last thing he remembered was the yelling and cheering of the crowd. Now there was only silence, and the feel of someone shaking him gently. He’d probably been carried off the field and taken to a hospital. Well, he needed to let the nurse know he was awake and that he was okay. He wondered how the team was doing without him.

After a few attempts, he succeeded in opening his eyes. He wondered why no one had taken off his helmet. He removed it and spit out the mouth guard. A woman with waist-length red hair and a smile that stopped his heart was kneeling over him. She looked as though she were dressed for a renaissance faire. He pushed himself to a sitting position, and his football rolled out of his grip.

Odd. He shouldn’t still have it. He’d expected hospital whites and antiseptic smells, not a room that resembled a dungeon. A fireplace and candles provided the only light in the room. A table close to the hearth held several open leather-bound books and glass containers. The room smelled musty.

The woman bowed her head. “I am honored you have come, Cuchulainn. My name is Lady Ana de Dannon, but you may address me as Ana if that is your wish.”

Mac scrambled to his feet, clutching his helmet by the strap. His legs felt like overcooked spaghetti. He was dreaming again, and it was even weirder than before. He wished his subconscious would get his name straight. “I’m Kenneth MacKinnon, not Cuchulainn, and what is this place?”

“Stirling Castle, my lord. 1328.”

The semester he had spent at the University of Edinburgh must have made a bigger impression on him than he’d thought. His parents would have been pleased. They always thought he should have interests besides sports. “Stirling Castle is in Scotland.”

“Of course.”

A small, furry creature moving among the clutter on the table caught his attention. The rodent’s red eyes blinked and stared back at him. Something wasn’t right.

The animal seemed nervous and afraid.

A door in the far corner of the room opened. The rat jumped off the table as an older woman entered. “Fiona said there was a matter of some import you wished to discuss with me. Are you ill? You take better care of those around you than you do yourself. I worry about you.”

Ana smiled and shook her head. “There is no need. I am well.”

“And who is he?”

Ana nodded in Mac’s direction. “I have wonderful tidings. I was successful in conjuring the Irish warrior. Our champion stands before us.”

Ana’s hair was even longer than he’d first thought. He wondered if it felt as silky soft as it looked. She wore a long, green dress that clung to her full breasts and slender body. A gold belt accentuated her hips. He swallowed. Her clothes resembled the style he’d seen in a movie someone had dragged him to watch. The story had been all about chivalry and codes of honor. He’d fallen asleep after the first thirty minutes. However, if any of the women had looked like this one, he might have stayed awake longer.

The older woman had salt-and-pepper hair, piled on top of her head, and wore a floor-length blue dress. She shook her head. “I have not the time for your jest, Ana. There is too much left undone.”

Ana put her hands on her hips. “Danu, it is not a jest. I have conjured the great warrior Cuchulainn.”

Mac rubbed the back of his neck. They spoke with thick Scottish brogues, but he thought he heard the word “conjured.” That word had something to do with spells or magic. Maybe both. The fool linebacker had probably hit him harder than he’d thought. He must be dreaming again. He tensed, remembering his nightmare, and the sound of a woman screaming. Mac tried to wake up, hoping he hadn’t missed too much of the game.

Nothing happened.

Ana frowned. “Danu, you must be aware of how closely he resembles the description of our legendary hero. This man is muscular, broad of shoulder, and taller than an ordinary man. He has the size and appearance of a mighty warrior.”

Danu raised an eyebrow and looked over at him. “I have heard it said that the larger the animal the smaller the brain. This one must have the intelligence of a flea. Wherever did you find him, child?”

He was being insulted in his own dream. Mac cradled his helmet in the crook of his arm.

As if trying to decide if what her companion said was true, Ana glanced toward him. He wondered if his engineering degree would impress her, and then couldn’t understand why he cared.

She turned to the older woman and lowered her voice. “You must not talk of Cuchulainn with such disrespect. He might take offense. True, his intelligence is of little importance, but he must still agree to our plan. He is our champion and our last hope.”

The remark made him feel uncomfortable. He didn’t think he was the hero type. Mac shifted his helmet from his arm and dangled it by the strap. This was all very interesting, but he’d heard enough. Time to wake up.

The scurrying of tiny feet across the floor caught his attention. The rodent had returned. It ran frantically back and forth in front of a closed door to Mac’s right. There was a new smell in the air. Smoke.

His helmet came loose from the strap and clattered to the floor. He stared at it and then in the direction he’d last seen the rat.

It was nowhere in sight.

The women continued to argue about whether Mac was zapped by magic or brought here as a joke. He’d lost interest in either theory. What drew his attention was behind the door. His uneasiness increased as he walked toward it.

Mac raised his hand and reached toward the wood. He hesitated. Without touching the panels he could feel the heat coming through them. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Mac placed his palm on the door.

He jerked it away. He’d felt more than heat. The panels bulged inward.

He stepped back. Fire. The door was expanding with the heat. The flames were testing the strength of the walls. He rubbed his hand against his thigh. Mac combed his fingers through his hair. The two women were still arguing.

“Is there another way out? I think this place is on fire.”

The older woman patted him on the arm. “Your manner of speech is difficult for us to understand. We will need time to accustom ourselves to it. In the meanwhile, calm yourself, Cuchulainn.”

Ana followed Mac’s gaze. Smoke curled up the wood panels. “He is correct. We must hurry.”

So far no one had died in his dreams. He didn’t want this to be a first. He moved toward an alcove. “Where does that lead?”

Ana’s voice was low. “The courtyard.”

He tested the wood panels on that door. They felt cool. He forced it open. The corridor was narrow. He’d never make it through wearing his shoulder pads. He pulled off his jersey and threw it in a pile by his football and helmet. Then he unfastened his pads and tossed them beside the rest of his gear. His stomach twisted in a knot. He was leaving a part of himself behind. No, that was ridiculous. This was only a dream.

Mac reached for a candle that was on a ledge over the hearth. He cupped his hand around the flame and headed toward the door. “Follow me.”

“Please wait.” Ana rushed over to the long table and grabbed a sword that was hung on the wall above it. She cradled the huge weapon in her arms as if it were a treasured keepsake.

He shook his head. Now he’d seen everything. Most of the people he knew might go back into a burning building to save a cat or a family picture, but not a sword. She was obviously different.

But he didn’t want her carrying such a heavy weapon; it would slow her down. He reached for it and grasped it in one hand, still holding the candle in the other.

He led the way down a flight of stairs that emptied into a dark void. The candle flickered, casting shadows on the walls. The women kept close behind him.

Danu’s voice trembled. “He holds the sword.”

“I know. There is the proof that he is our champion.”

“And the fire.” Danu’s voice sounded strained to Mac. “Could your spell be the cause?”

“I do not know.” Ana’s voice was barely audible.

“Did you note the strange armor your champion wore?”

“Yes, it is most curious. And his manner of speech is like no other I have ever heard.”

They were talking around him again instead of to him. Just as well. He didn’t feel like conversation. He figured they were trying to keep themselves calm.

Sticky cobwebs clung to his face, and hot wax from the candle dripped on his hand. He ignored the burning sensation and adjusted his grip. The sword was damned heavy. Holding on to the belief he was dreaming was proving difficult.

An icy breeze whistled through the dark corridors.

Ana brushed his arm. She was standing next to him, then leaned closer. “This door leads to the courtyard.”

Mac hesitated. He felt like a contestant on a game show. Behind the door in front of him were three possible choices: a football field, a courtyard, or a man-eating fire. He shrugged and handed the candle to Danu. What the hell. No one lives forever. He leaned his shoulder against the door and pushed.

It burst open.

Damn. It was the courtyard. He’d been hoping for the football field. But at least it wasn’t a wall of flames.

Shouts filled the night air as men, women, and children formed a bucket brigade, trying to put out the flames. It looked to be confined to the area next to the room where he had been a few moments ago.

The castle was enormous. Twin towers flanked a gate that led to a courtyard the size of the field at Century Link Field.

Behind him Danu was shouting, “Ana, where are you going?”

Mac turned. He saw Ana run back into the castle in the direction of the burning room. It looked like most of the fire was out. Ana disappeared through the doorway.

“Here.” Mac handed the sword to Danu. “Hold this.”

He raced after Ana.

He reached the room she’d entered. It looked like a storage area. Two men were busy dousing rolled tapestries with buckets of water. Smoke and the smell of burning cloth filled the small room.

Through the thick haze he saw Ana bent over a long metal chest that contained a rolled cloth of some kind. She gasped as if relieved that it was still intact.

He walked over to her. “Why did you run back? It could have been dangerous.”

She looked over at him and smiled. “The danger has passed. The fire is out. Besides, I needed to find out if my mother’s tapestry was harmed. But it is still safe. And why did you follow me?”

“I wanted to stop you.”

“You mean you wanted to save me. That proves you are the great Cuchulainn.”

“As I told you before, my name is Kenneth MacKinnon, but everyone calls me Mac. Never Cuchulainn, whoever that is.”

She stood. “I do not know why you deny who you are. Perhaps you are testing us to see if we are worthy and have full knowledge of your deeds. Very well. You are— that is to say— Cuchulainn was a great Irish warrior who vowed to aid all who asked for his help. He studied under the warrior goddess Scathach on the Isle of Shadow and returned to Ulster to be a great warrior and leader of the Red Branch. It was said his father was one of the gods.” She smiled. “But you know that.”

“I am not…” He shook his head and decided that it really didn’t matter what she called him. After all, this was only a dream.

She motioned for him to follow her. “Come. My people have everything under control. I will show you the chamber I have prepared for you.”

He followed her. The dress she wore was close-fitting around her hips. He wondered if she knew that, or that the sway of her hips was distracting.

She paused at the bottom of a flight of stone stairs. He almost bumped into her. That would have been embarrassing. He straightened.

She smiled. “In all the excitement of realizing my spell was successful, I forgot to tell you how pleased I am that you have come to help me.”

Even knowing that at any minute he would wake up, curiosity got the better of him. “What do you want me to do?”

“Act as my family’s champion in the Edinburgh tournament and free my mother.”

He nodded. Now he was glad this was only a dream. From his short stay in Scotland he’d learned about tournaments. Trying to play football in a hurricane would be easier.

She picked up her skirts and headed up a long flight of stairs to the second floor. Torches on wall brackets lined the wide corridor. She paused at a massive oak door and opened it. The room was cold and dark. The stone hearth was bare and the wood shutters closed out all the light. Ana walked over to the window and unlatched them. Fresh air and moonlight streamed into the room.

Ana turned toward him, twisting a ring on her finger.

“This is the finest chamber in our castle. I had it prepared especially for you.” She glanced toward the empty hearth. “I was not sure exactly when you would arrive, so please forgive the lack of a fire.” She pointed toward a four-poster bed. “However, I have selected clothes for you: a wool shirt, a féile-breacan, as well as boots, and of course whatever weapons you desire.”

“Wait. Back up. What’s a… féile-breacan?”

She paused. “It is clothing that is wound around your waist. That which you are now wearing does not look as if it would give you any protection against the cold.”

Mac looked at the woolen plaid folded on the bed. From her description, it sounded like a kilt. Terrific. He’d just learned a new word in his dreams. He checked out the rest of the room. Medieval weapons of all types hung on the walls. There were war hammers, battleaxes, and shields. Leaning in the corner was a pair of lances that looked almost thirteen feet tall. It was a room meant for a warrior. She had gone to a lot of trouble.

He looked over at her. Her back was to the window and the moonlight seemed to reflect in her hair. He almost wished he was the man she’d expected. What had come over him? This was only a dream. Why couldn’t he remember that? It might be fun to play it out and see what happened. If he remembered any of it when he woke up, it would be interesting to see Jed’s reaction. Maybe there was a deeper hidden meaning to all this medieval stuff.

“Is there a food you desire? I was not sure if you would be hungry. I have never conjured someone from the Other World.”

“I’m not hungry. It’s freezing in here. Aren’t you cold?”

She nodded. “Yes, how thoughtless of me. I will have someone sent up to build a fire.”

He shook his head. “I can do it.” He was glad to have something to occupy his thoughts. He walked over to the hearth and knelt on the cold tile floor. He reached for a chunk of wood. It was dry and the bark coarse. He concentrated on setting the wood in place, not on how real everything seemed.

The soft fragrance of roses filled the air. She was near. He’d been focusing so hard on building a fire, he hadn’t heard her kneel beside him. He turned silently. She held a lighted candle in one hand and a basket of pinecones in the other.

Ana’s voice was so soft he could barely hear it over the beating of his heart. Her eyes reflected the warmth of the flames. She held the basket toward him. “These will help start the fire.”

Mac cleared his throat and silently reached for the basket. He stuffed the pinecones under the wood and then lit them with the candle, staring toward the wood as it burst into flame. She moved to stand, and her shoulder grazed against his. The contact jolted him.

“I shall have someone sent to prepare your bed.”

“Don’t.” He had all but shouted the word. That was not like him. He was normally under control. He needed to wake up, and soon. He had never considered himself a player when it came to women, but he’d never been at a loss for words. It must be his surroundings. It made a man think of codes of honor and knightly virtue. This part of the dream he’d better not repeat. His teammates would think he’d gone nuts.

He stood. “I didn’t mean to shout. It’s been a long day. I don’t need anyone to help me.” She smiled and he thought someone had flicked a switch in the room, but that was crazy since castles like this one were unlikely to have electricity.

“Feel free to sleep as long as it suits you. Tomorrow will be time enough for me to further explain why you were brought here. Sleep well, Cuchulainn.”

Pam Binder. The Quest (Kindle Locations 396-398). The Wild Rose Press, Inc.



Pam Binder is an award-winning New York Times, USA Today and Amazon bestselling author of ten novels and two novellas. Based in suburban Seattle, Washington, Pam is drawn to Celtic legends and anything Irish or Scottish. The prolific author blends historical events, characters, and myths into her young adult, romance, historical, time travel and fantasy fiction. Check her out on



Do you enjoy time-travel romance?

Which is your favorite type of romantic time travel: past to present or present to past?

If you could time travel (with the sure knowledge of returning) where would you choose to go?

Two randomly chosen people who comment before 11:00 PM, July 19 will each receive a copy of The Quest (winner's choice of print (U.S. only) or e-book (English language - open internationally). Books will be sent to winners following the July 29th publication date.

*Must be 18 or older



  1. Time travel romance is wonderful, captivating and unique. Present to past would be my favorite and I would go to England before World War 11.

  2. When I read time travel romance I am transported to another era which is an unforgettable experience. I would travel to Italy when things were simpler, and it would be from the present to the past and I would probably stay there.

  3. I like present to past is my favorite. I would love to go to Scotland and see where my ancestors came from.

  4. Thank you for the review. Another new to me author. I have read some time travels I loved, and some I did not like so much. This one sounds like it would be an adventure with humor. You had me at "feile breacan"

    I hope everyone is staying safe and taking care.

  5. I do enjoy time travel books. I like them with the individuals traveling either to the past or future. Each scenario has its own possibilities. Those traveling back in time have the advantage of knowing the history if the period and a bit more knowledge of what is going on. for those traveling into the future, there are other issues. I remember one I read where a Highland warrior traveled to present day New York City. He was so lost, not being able to figure out what had happened to him and finding it impossible to fit in. It was heartbreaking when he realized all those he loved were long dead and he would never see them again. I really wish I could remember the title. I would love to read it again.
    If I could travel back in time, I would like to go back to the medieval Scottish Highlands. My second choice would be the American West of the mid to late 1800's.