Hi, everyone, I'm thrilled that my latest release is out! My Daring Highlander is the 4th book in my Highland Adventure series.
Beautiful and fiercely protective of those she loves, Lady Seona Murray captured Keegan MacKay’s attention when she first set foot in Dunnakeil Castle. Though she is a chief’s daughter and forbidden, Keegan has fallen in love with her from afar and burns to possess her. But so does the clan traitor, Haldane, an obsessive outlaw bent on murder and kidnapping.
Sinfully handsome, Keegan MacKay is a fearsome guard as well as the chief’s cousin, but Seona’s father would never consider him a worthy husband for her because he is not a titled laird. Seona has secretly watched the sensual, tawny-haired warrior from across the crowded great hall for months, but when he is tasked with escorting her across Scotland, back to her home, their simmering attraction flames into sizzling passion with just one kiss.
Though she fears she is endangering Keegan’s life, Seona cannot resist his seductive charm or his spellbinding kisses. Keegan sets fire to the memories of her sad past and shows her what it means to truly live. But her father has other plans. He’s arranged for her to marry a wealthy Lowland laird. Is Keegan daring enough to steal her away? Or will the vindictive Haldane snatch her first?
Seona awoke to men yelling, a shock of alarm ringing through her. At first, she didn’t know where she was, then she remembered being inside a tent. She sat up, listening to the running footsteps, curses and swords clanging outside. Cold fear slid through her. What on earth? Had Haldane attacked? She fingered the knife hidden on her forearm, wondering if she should pull it out.
Beside her, Aunt Patience bolted upright. “What’s happening?”
“I know not. I think ’tis an attack.” Seona crawled forward to peer through the tent flap.
Two blades clashed nearby, sparks popping off them in the near darkness. She could only see the outline of two shadowy figures.
“Haldane!” It was Keegan’s voice. “I’ll kill you. Have no doubt of it.”
God protect us, Seona prayed silently.
More men joined them in battle.
Seona drew back. “Everyone, wake up,” she whispered loudly, grabbing her arisaid to wrap about her. “We may have to flee.”
“Lord, help us. Is it a battle?” one of their maids asked. Someone was sobbing and another of them was praying aloud.
“Aye. Haldane and his band of outlaws have attacked. We must dress and ready ourselves to run,” Seona whispered.
A knife blade sliced through their tent’s fabric over the maids’ heads. Her aunt and the maids screamed as they scrambled toward the opposite side, a couple of them crawling over Seona.
“Remain calm,” she said, pulling her legs free of them.
She couldn’t draw her knife now or she might inadvertently cut one of the other women in such close quarters. They sat frozen in fear as they listened to the sounds outside—men’s angry yells, footsteps thumping, blades clashing.
Someone burst into the dark tent. Seona’s heart felt as if it rammed up into her throat.
The maids shrieked and scrambled backward.
“’Tis me, Keegan. Come, all of you.”
A couple of the maids were crying in earnest now, one of them frantic.
“Calm yourselves!” Keegan commanded. “Lady Seona, where are you?”
“Here,” she said, regaining her breath.
He took her hand and dragged her from the tent. She saw MacMillan and a couple more guards standing outside, holding horses.
“Wait!” Seona said. “I have not—”
“There is no time.” Keegan lifted her onto the bareback horse as if she weighed no more than a child, then, grabbing the reins, he leapt on behind her. He wrapped a strong arm around her and kicked the horse into a gallop.
“What about Aunt Patience?” she asked, turning and attempting to look back, but she couldn’t see beyond his shoulder.
“The guards will see to her and the maids’ safety. Dirk told me to slip you away from the battle and hide you.”
Why? Seona wanted to ask, but found it almost impossible to hold a conversation with the horse galloping at such great speed, and her frantic heartbeat keeping the same rhythm. They flew along a trail, opposite the way they’d come earlier that day. Keegan’s arm around her near squeezed the breath from her. But she felt safe.
Moonlight reflected off a wide, sparkling burn that flowed alongside the trail. After a few minutes, Keegan slowed the horse to a trot but kept going. Unexpectedly, he guided the horse into a copse of trees. The fresh scent of pine was strong. The horse walked deeper, his breath wooshing in and out.
After a few hundred yards, Keegan stopped the horse and turned it about. They listened to the silence. No hoof beats approached.
“Were you injured in the fighting?” she asked.
“Did you kill Haldane?”
“Hmph. He fled like a frightened rat.” Keegan’s arm tightened around her again, tugging her back against the hard wall of his chest. “He’s trying to steal you away,” Keegan whispered, his warm breath stirring her hair.
“What on earth? Why?”
“He said you were meant to be his.”
A shiver of revulsion passed over Seona. The last person on earth she would want to marry was Haldane. “’Tis because of the marriage contract the MacKays had with my father.”
“That cannot be the only reason. I’m thinking he’s greatly smitten with you.”
She was not flattered. Haldane was like a half-grown feral mongrel. She had always hated the way he’d leered at her at the high table or across the great hall. That was before he’d left the clan. Now that he’d turned outlaw, she was certain he’d be a hundred times worse.
“I thought he was trying to kill his brother,” she said.
“Aye, that as well. Two birds with one arrow.” Keegan leapt down, then helped her dismount. He tied the horse’s reins to a small tree. “I want to move you away from the horse in case he makes a noise and alerts the outlaws.”
“Very well,” she whispered.
Keegan lifted Seona, one arm beneath her knees and one at her back. She gasped in surprise, but he ignored her and carried her a few yards away. His warmth felt wonderful against her in the chill night air. When he stopped, he continued to hold her close, as if shielding her with his body.
His fierce protectiveness made her chest ache with tenderness. “I thank you for keeping me safe,” she whispered.
She wanted to say more, but could think of naught that didn’t sound daft. She would have to keep her thoughts to herself and focus on the danger of the situation. The leaves of the trees provided darkness and cover.
“Is Chief Dirk safe?” she asked, distracting herself from how Keegan’s powerful body affected her in a strangely exciting way.
“I know not, but I’m certain he can take care of himself and Isobel.” He turned his head this way and that, on high alert, listening for any enemy who might approach.
The silence stretched out and, with each moment that passed, she became more and more aware of Keegan’s fiery body supporting her.
“I can stand on my own two feet, you know,” she whispered.
“I thought you were barefoot.”
“I am, but what of it? You certainly cannot hold me the entire time.”
“I don’t mind.” His deep whisper in her ear was sensual and seductive.
Her rebellious body responded to his in shocking ways. Tingles moved from her breasts downward. The only time she’d ever felt like this was when she thought of Keegan in scandalous ways, such as when she imagined him kissing her.
“I insist,” she said, fighting down her disturbing reaction to him. “You cannot wield a sword while holding me.”
“Och. Very well, then.”
When he lowered her to the ground and released her, she missed his warmth. His body had obviously been overheated from the exertion of battle. She tried to ignore the pine needles prickling her feet and the spongy wet ground beneath them.
They stood in silence for a few minutes. An owl hooted in the distance. How far were they from camp?
Seona shivered, her teeth chattering, and she realized she wore naught but an ivory linen smock. Though the material was somewhat thick, the night air was cool. She’d not had time to belt her arisaid about her before Keegan dragged her from the tent. Besides, some of the maids had been sitting on it, and she’d had to leave it behind.
“Och, Lady Seona, you’re cold.”
My Daring Highlander 2013 Vonda Sinclair
What will Keegan do to warm Seona up? :)My Daring Highlander is available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and will be distributed to other book retailers soon.
In other news, My Wild Highlander was nominated by a wonderful reviewer for an Indie Romance Convention Readers Choice Award. In order to win, I need more votes. If you've read My Wild Highlander and enjoyed it, I could use your help. Voting is easy, just two clicks. Vote for historical romance by visiting this website. If you would like to vote in all categories visit the main website. Thank you!!