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4.5!!! (Romance Junkies) Winning the Highlander's Heart
Deceit, Intrigue, Romance in Medieval Scotland and England during the reign of King Henry I.
Determined to avoid King Henry I's randy advances, Lady Anice of Brecken attempts escape, wishing to find a Highlander to escort her home to her castle in Glen Affric where she will rule until she can find a laird worthy of her hand. Laird Malcolm MacNeill desires an English bride to improve his standing with those in power. But rescuing the Scottish lass from an escape attempt casts him into deadly political intrigue when the king sends Malcolm and his brothers to escort the lady home and investigate the disappearance of some of her staff. Now he must protect the king's ward without losing his heart to the willful lass, or he could very well earn His Majesty's wrath...and lose far more.
Excerpt from Winning the Highlander's Heart:
Later, the sound of men’s voices stirred him from his ragged sleep. For a moment, he lay muddle-headed trying to discern what it was he’d heard. Was it his brothers? Then they spoke again. He quickly sat up. ‘Twas not his brothers’ voices. Instantly, his body went on high alert.
Was it the owner of the croft then? If so, would he be angry to find they’d used his dry wood for the fire and used his blankets, too?
Malcolm covered Anice’s face with the blanket, then grabbed his damp trewes and shoved them on, when four men stepped out of the byre into the house.
They appeared to be knights, not a farmer and his family, bearded, wet, and bedraggled. The situation couldn’t be worse. “How now,” Malcolm said in greeting, but edged in the direction of his sword.
“We got caught in this storm and beg your charity, good man,” a black-haired man said, his voice dark, but attempting cheerfulness, his blue eyes icy. He pulled off his rain-soaked cloak, handed it to a stockier man, then glanced at the body buried underneath the blanket.
“Aye, there is a fire here to warm ye.” Malcolm motioned to the hearth, trying to be cordial, though he felt less than charitable if these were some of the baron’s men.
The other three men began to pull off their wet clothes, hanging them around the room to dry.
The first said, “If those are your horses in the byre, methinks you are not the owner of this farm.”
“Aye, the owner was not here when my wife and I came upon the place in the storm.”
“Wife?” The man’s thin lips turned up slightly, but his eyes remained hard. He cast another glance at Anice. “I am Baron Harold de Fountenot. You must be a knight to own such a fine horse, and the lady a daughter of a knight, perchance?”
Malcolm’s heartbeat pounded fiercely to hear that this was the very baron who wished to marry Anice. “Aye, Laird MacNeill.” But he couldn’t give away Anices’s identity. If they knew who she was, they’d kill him, just as they’d planned to do using their mercenaries earlier on their travels.
“We will take the place by the hearth,” the baron said, stripping out of his clothes.
The baron was shaking, undoubtedly cold to the bone like he and Anice had been. Too bad he wouldn’t die from a chill. Mayhap he would still. “My wife is still sick from the chill she had taken.”
The baron’s mouth turned up. “Then I will warm her. ‘Tis the only way, do you not agree?”
Malcolm grabbed his claymore. He would kill all of them if any laid a hand on Anice.
The men were half naked and trembling from the cold so hard, he assumed he could easily kill all three of them. A part of him wanted to, to protect Anice from this murderer. But how would he explain his actions to the king if he should act on his feelings? That he had killed the king’s first choice of a husband for Anice because the baron had found them bedded together naked?
Labels: England, Highlander, historical fiction, King Henry I, medieval, middle ages, romance, romantic suspense, Scotland
Award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense, Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth College. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, to include personalized bears designed to commemorate authors’ books. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses. Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of Heart of the Wolf, Don’t Cry Wolf, Winning the Highlander’s Heart, Deadly Liaisons, Relative Danger, The Vampire…In My Dreams (young adult), Deidre’s Secret (young adult) and numerous articles and short stories for magazines.