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Are you looking for an excuse to curl up somewhere with a mug of hot chocolate and do nothing for a few hours? Of course you are! It’s awful weather. Plus, snuggling in with a good book beats getting bodychecked by someone else who desperately needs Santa to bring a Tickle-Me-Cabbage-Bratz-Kid or whatever. Hey, your friendly librarian is here to help. At least, I’m here to help if a long, charming ramble through Scotland and Russia with a smoldering Scotsman sounds appealing. If not, you can probably get off this boat here. Still here? Grand! Grab your cocoa. By day, Nicola Marter works in an arts museum in London, England. By night, however, Nicola struggles with a rare gift that lets her divine the provenance of the rare items she curates simply by touching them. Her grandfather had been viciously prosecuted in Russia for his gifts, so Nicola faces strong family pressure to suppress her second sight and live a more normal life. However, a chance encounter with a destitute woman forces Nicola to reconsider her gifts and their role in her life. Before Nicola really thinks about it, she goes to Scotland in search of Rob, whose own keen gifts could help her find the proof she needs that this woman’s family holds a rare artefact, given to them by Empress Catherine of Russia. Rob, naturally, would be our smoldering Scotsman – one with whom Nicola had an intense connection in university, and with whom she has unfinished business. The two depart on a whirlwind tour of the Scottish coast and St Petersburg, hot on the trail of the firebird artefact. As with any Susanna Kearsley novel, there’s plenty of steamy tension rendered so carefully that you can share this book with your mother without blushing. I’ve recommended other Kearsley books in this space as readalikes for fans of Diana Gabaldon’s *Outlander* series - the sexual tension, historical research, and time travel elements make Kearsley’s books a perfect match for any Sassenachs looking for a great next read. *The Firebird* is no exception. This book is highly recommended as a shopping procrastination tool, or as an excuse to get out of anything else you’d like to avoid this holiday season.
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