A Highlander’s vow...Scottish spy Gerard MacMasters never expected to be playing bodyguard in his mission to catch a killer. Stunning English beauty, Lady Evelyn Hunt, has witnessed a merciless assassin’s escape—now, she’s in danger, and it’s up to him to keep her alive. Yet, he is drawn to the tempting woman. Passion flares, but he knows better than to fall for her. He’s already lost one woman he loved—never again will he put his heart on the line.
She shields her heart...After a crushing betrayal at the altar, Lady Evelyn wants nothing to do with love. Kissing a gorgeous rogue is one thing, but surrendering her heart is another matter. When she stumbles upon a mysterious crime, nothing prepares her for the dashing Scot who charges into her life. The hot-blooded Highlander may be her hero—or her undoing.
Award-winning author Tara Kingston writes historical romance laced with intrigue, danger, and adventures of the heart. A Southern-belle-out-of-water in a quaint Pennsylvania town, she lives her own happily-ever-after in a cozy Victorian with her real-life hero and a pair of deceptively innocent-looking kitties. The mother of two sons, Tara’s a former librarian who first discovered her love of the romance genre when she sneaked more than a peek at her mother’s old-school romance paperbacks. When she’s not writing, reading, or burning dinner, Tara enjoys movie nights, traveling, cycling, hiking, DIY projects, quality time with her family, and cheering on her favorite football team.
Truth be told, Lady Evelyn Hunt rather enjoyed being a fallen woman. While others might well wring their hands over such a dizzying tumble from grace, she’d discovered an unexpected benefit of scandal—the invisible scarlet letter she wore was the key to her independence. After all, with no good name to protect, she had nothing to lose.
As her traveling companions gushed over the wares in a milliner’s cramped and cluttered shop, she debated whether to put that freedom to good use and make her escape. She’d endured the noisy, pungent train ride from London to the Highlands with nary a whisper of complaint. After all, it wasn’t every day one embarks on a journey to stand as a bridesmaid while her dearest friend weds a dashing Scotsman. She would not have missed Sally’s wedding, not for all the quiet chambers in the world. But now, as the walls closed in and her friends’ voices blurred, she eyed the door with a keen longing.
Fanning herself with one hand, she pulled in a gulp of air, deep as her corset allowed. Drat, she should’ve loosened the stays. A fashionable silhouette was desirable, but then again, so was the ability to inhale.
Her pulse hammered a defiant beat against her eardrums. What harm would there be in leaving this little shop, if only for a few minutes? It wasn’t as if she required a chaperone. With her reputation damaged well beyond repair, she was free to explore the city without benefit of an escort. On the other hand, her dignity would suffer a devastating blow if she collapsed in an incoherent heap on the milliner’s floor.
Edging past the hatmaker’s dour-faced assistant, Evelyn slipped out the door. Relief rushed in. Fresh calm filled her. Free of the crush and the relentless chatter, she could once again focus her thoughts. She could breathe.
A shadow fell over her.
Strong, warm hands settled over her shoulders.
A stranger towered over her. A handsome man, dark-haired and broad-shouldered.
“Unhand me, sir.”
His hands fell away. A hint of a smile danced on his full mouth. “Is the devil nippin’ at yer heels, lass?”
Good heavens. In her rush to take her leave of the shop, she’d nearly collided with the fellow, hadn’t she? So much for avoiding damage to her dignity.
She was tall, too long-limbed to fit the feminine ideal, but she had to cock her chin to meet his intent golden-brown eyes. “My apologies.”
“’Tis no harm done.” A lock of dark hair dipped over his forehead, and he shoved it away. “Do take care. The next man ye run into might take advantage of the opportunity to find a lovely lass in his arms.”
The man certainly had cheek, didn’t he? A reply sprang to her lips, hovering there unspoken as his hint of a smile gave way to a ridiculously appealing grin.
While spying for Clan Cameron, Brodie Cameron rescues a lass, only to realize it’s Skye—the woman who’d broken his heart. He needs to get her to her uncle as quickly as possible to keep her safe, but every minute he’s distracted from his mission brings the clans that much closer to war. And having beautiful Skye anywhere near him is dangerous, because the price on his head is higher than the one on hers.
Upon being rescued from kidnappers, Skye finds herself staring into the eyes of the man she once loved—Brodie Cameron. She’s grateful to be freed, but has no idea how she’ll resist the lad who has become a braw man. Especially because she’s promised to another, in a political marriage forged to strengthen the Royalist clans against the Covenanters who plot to turn Scotland upside down.
Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Holt Medallion for Best First Book and Best Historical, Lori Ann Bailey writes hunky highland heroes and strong-willed independent lasses finding their perfect matches in the Highlands of 17th century Scotland. Writing about the people and places playing in her head helps her live out her dreams and delve into her love of history and romance. When not writing, Lori enjoys time with her real life hero and four kids or spending time walking or drinking wine with her friends.
Visit Lori at www.loriannbailey.com. Or, follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Lori.Ann.Bailey.author
Skye’s heart had clenched at the all-too-familiar thick Highland burr of the man who’d jumped into the back of the wagon.
Nae. It couldn’t be—it was the terror of being abducted by strangers playing tricks on her.
A broad shouldered man leaned closer and she let go of the breath she held, because she didn’t recognize the form. These shoulders were much wider and the girth was almost twice what she remembered from the man of her youth. Hoping to hide, she sank back into the depths of the cart, her entire body stiffening and her heartbeat increasing, pounding in her chest.
But then he reached for her, and a beam of moonlight hit his face. The intruder gave her the smile that had once brought her to her knees, the one she had spent her whole childhood trying to put on his face. Now, the sight only brought her pain.
She had spent the last five years of her life trying to forget that smile, trying to shake the memory of him, trying to become a whole person again. With that one cocksure smirk, he had just shredded all of her efforts, and damn him, she wanted to reach out and feel that he was real, that this was not one of those dreams she would wake from and he’d be gone, leaving her alone yet again.
Many times, he’d visited her at night in her fantasies, saving her from imaginary foes and then professing his undying love, promising to never leave her side again. In the delirious haze of sleep, she always forgave him, but this didn’t feel like a dream.
I’m an imbecile.
She had to remind herself she hated this man. He’d promised her the moon, made her dare to believe they could have the perfect life together. A home, a family, and love.
Then he had taken it all away. He had carelessly tossed her aside and left her with a gaping hole, a void that could never be filled. She had given her heart to him, and he had trampled all over it.
The Maiden’s Defender by E. Elizabeth Watson
Training men to be ruthless soldiers is a skill at which Highlander Teàrlach MacGregor excels. He can kill three men with nothing but a sword and a couple of daggers. After he rescues a ward of the king, the beautiful Lady Madeline Crawford, the fierce warrior begins to yearn for a cottage of his own in the Highlands, with the sweet, delicate Madeline as the mother of his bairns.
Madeline begins to see a side of Teàrlach that nobody else has witnessed. The strong silent Highlander takes her to her first fair, teaches her to read, and bestows upon her a passionate kiss—her very first. But Madeline is informed that she is betrothed to another with the blessing of the king, making her and Teàrlach’s love forbidden.
Teàrlach, the famed fighter, vows to make Madeline his even if that means bringing down her corrupt warden, and Madeline knows that she must defy the king if she hopes to claim her Highlander.
I write medieval Scottish and English romance. I'm excited to announce my first two books with Entangled Publishing will be published in July and November, 2017, entitled An Earl for the Archeress, and Maiden's Defender. In 2016, my book, Prince of Lions, was a top 100 download on Amazon in the categories of Scottish and Medieval historical romance. In 2014, my unpublished manuscript entitled Two Brides for Ewan de Buchan received a Second Prize as a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and currently the book is being pushed towards publication.
I have four sons. Yes. Four. We have a sweet yellow lab, a bobtail cat, a parakeet, and two Californian rabbits, and my family and I enjoy traveling whenever the opportunity and resources allow it. Though explorers at heart, we live on a wooded mountainside in West Virginia and hike whenever possible. We have moved about the United States and even the United Kingdom, where my love of historical romance was born. How could it not?
Anno Domini 1192. April
The spring insects buzzed peaceably, and the evening sun promised a glowing sunset. Madeline Crawford had watched many sunsets, hoping that the warm rays would heal her broken heart. Aye, her heart was finally healing, because in this moment, she could breathe in and out and appreciate the beauty without the sadness that had plagued her for so long, threatening to kill her simple joy. In this moment, she felt content. The first time she had felt so in many months. She looked down, smiled, and adjusted a blanket, then picked up her book of Aesop’s Fables again and continued reading.
“And so, the wise astrologer walked, gazing upward at the heavens”—how she also enjoyed looking at the night sky and contemplating the patterns of stars—“only to then fall into a well. The townsfolk gathered around him, hearing his calls of distress, only then to scold him. ‘Wise astrologer,’ they said. ‘Whilst you were staring upward at the sky, trying to divinate the meaning of the stars, you failed to see the very things here on earth that surround you…’”
The very earth beneath her began to rumble as she finished the sentence. Madeline paused. The guardsmen on the wall were clattering down the walk, their arms clanking and chain mail jingling. She looked out through the open gates, down the meandering path that led along the valley between the hills.
The beating of horse hooves was growing stronger, as if the army of England were descending upon her simple stone tower to raze her home. She saw two horsemen barreling down the road toward her, both dark haired. The one in the back, as wild as the Highlands from which he had come, wore his MacGregor great kilt proudly. The horseman in front wore a dirty Irish leine, the white of it having seen brighter days, with boots lacing up his legs. His hair was shaggy, longer, his beard unmanaged. Over his shoulder was a haphazardly pleated plaid, the same color as the other man’s tartan.
Madeline snatched up her bundle of blankets, allowing the book to tumble from her hands and splay open in the dirt. Two of her servants, Fingal and the young lass Joselyn, raced for the door of the tower to hustle Madeline within.
Yet a wary tingling was coursing through her blood. She knew the man propelling toward her gate. It didn’t seem real, didn’t seem possible. It couldn’t be him. After all this time. After so many months, after she had finally resigned herself to accept Rabbie MacGregor’s marriage offer. After she had given up hope that this man would ever return. It had to be a marauder, intent on rape and pillage.
It couldn’t be him.
“Madeline!” the man called in a voice with a rich timbre, galloping through the wooden gates and pulling back on the reins of his mount. “Madeline, stop!”
She whirled around in the doorway and finally saw him as he threw himself from the saddle. The sight was a shock. She froze. It was him. It was Teàrlach MacGregor, in the flesh, in an Irish leine and boots, as if he were the fabled Fionn incarnated. His hair had always been shaggy, but he could tie it back now, if he wanted. She remembered so vividly the feel of his curls as her fingers laced through them, combing them in gentle pets as he lay upon her breast by the nighttime campfire surrounded by insect cadences and silence. Her heart ached anew.
The Lady and Mr. Jones by Alyssa Alexander
Born in the rookeries, the hard life is something Jones is all too familiar with. Saved as a young boy, he was trained to be a spy, one of the best--elite, in fact. He now spends his days serving His Majesty in espionage, hunting rogue spies. His latest assignment, though, has him tracking a fellow spy…
Cat Ashdown is a baroness. Nothing is more important than protecting five hundred years of heritage. She knows every detail of every estate that commands the largest income in Britain— yet her father placed her inheritance in trust to her uncle who is forcing her to marry a man she has no desire for. The baroness’s battle against law and convention leads her to Jones and results that are surprising … and possibly unwanted.
Alyssa Alexander is an award-winning author who survives the cold Michigan winters by penning romance novels that always include a bit of adventure. Her debut release received 4.5 Stars & Top Pick by Romantic Times, was nominated for the RT 2014 Best First Historical and the 2015 Best First Book RITA. She’s been called a “talented newcomer” and “a rising star you won’t want to miss.” Alyssa lives with her own set of heroes, aka an ever-patient husband and a small boy who wears a knight in a shining armor costume for such tasks as scrubbing potatoes.
Jones rubbed a thumb along the faint line running the length of the pistol’s barrel. He couldn’t remember now the origin of the scratch, but he had never been able to polish it out to his satisfaction.
Nevertheless, he tried. A man took care of his weapons.
There was very little light in the hidden nook of his commander’s office. Curtains blocked the candlelight from the main room, so it fell just shy of the flintlock pistol. But Jones needed no light for this work, as he knew the feel and shape of the weapon, every ridge in the wood, every curve of the iron. Still, bringing out the small, soft linen square he kept in his pocket, he began the meticulous process of rubbing the iron and wood.
And he listened to the conversation occurring beyond the secret alcove he had been assigned to.
“The Flower is no longer yours to command, Lord Wycomb. Nor has she been this last half year.” Sir Charles Flint spoke carefully to the man standing on the other side of his desk. The light was bright near the two of them, from the fire and the windows and the candles. It shone on the broad, barrel chest of Sir Charles and the lean, elegantly clothed agent challenging him. “The Flower is now under my direct command.”
Ah. They were discussing Vivienne La Fleur, the opera dancer who had captivated London between visits to France and breaking into the homes of the ton at Wycomb’s direction. She excelled at thievery, with her quick fingers and elegant grace. She was also damned good at lock-picking, as her new husband, Maximilian Westwood, had become aware.
But Henry Taylor, Lord Wycomb—the bastard—had mistreated her and lost Sir Charles’s good will.
And Jones’s respect.
“I trained her.” Lord Wycomb’s voice was as cool and careful as the spymaster’s behind the desk. “I found her in the rookeries as a child, trained her for espionage, and commanded her assignments for a decade. She is my agent.”
From his hiding place, Jones glanced at Wycomb’s back, at the set of his shoulders and angle of his head. Jones couldn’t see his face from this vantage point, but there did not seem to be any sign of untoward anger.
Jones refolded the linen square and began to polish his pistol anew, focusing on that single scratch he could not smooth out.
“The Flower was your agent. I have reassigned her. Again, I now control her missions,” Sir Charles answered. There was no hint of his anger at Wycomb’s treatment of the Flower—but Jones knew, if Wycomb did not. Jones had seen Sir Charles months ago in this very office, had witnessed the mingled fury and pity. “Why is it that you require her expertise?”
“An assignment that is not under your command, Sir Charles.” Haughtiness. Presumption. Precedence. All echoed in the room.
From his hiding place, Jones narrowed his eyes. A man didn’t disrespect his superior officer, regardless of social titles. Tempted to stand and reveal his presence, Jones flattened his hand over the pistol to steady himself. He had his own assignment, and allowing his irritation free rein was not it.
Tying the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey
At age eleven, Alex Sinclair pledges an oath to the Duke of Chatham promising to serve and protect his illegitimate daughter, Lucy FitzHarris. Nine years later, the duke unexpectedly takes Alex up on his vow, offering the future Laird of Balforss his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Now a man, hotheaded Alex has difficulty convincing Lucy—who would rather starve to death than marry a vulgar Scot—to go through with the arranged marriage. Once Lucy arrives in Scotland, she cannot resist the magic of Balforss or the allure of her handsome Highland warrior. But when Alex seemingly betrays Lucy right before their wedding, she is tricked into running away. Alex must rein in his temper to rescue his lady from unforeseen danger and Lucy must swallow her pride if she hopes to wed the Highlander she has come to love.
Jennifer Trethewey is an actor-turned-writer who has moved her performances from the stage to the page. In 2013 she traveled to Scotland for the first time, where she instantly fell for the language, humor, intense sense of pride, and breathtaking landscape. Her love for Scotland was translated into her first series of historical romance novels, the Highlanders of Balforss. The sexy, adventurous first book of the series, TYING THE SCOT, is set to be released in November 2017. Trethewey’s primary experience in bringing the imaginary to life was working for one of the oldest women’s theaters in the nation, where she was the co-founder and co-artistic director. Today she continues to act, but writes contemporary and historical fiction full-time. Her other loves include dogs, movies, music and good wine. She lives in Milwaukee with her husband.
Without warning, Hercules hopped onto the cook’s lap, causing her to let out a whoop. He tickled her chin with dog kisses. Alex had never heard Mrs. Swenson giggle before.
“Do you want someone to feed you, my wee mannie?” she said, talking to him like he was a baby. She picked up the bowl and hand-fed the bits of meat to Hercules. He chewed and swallowed, all the while gazing adoringly at the cook.
“Looks like you have a new friend,” Alex said.
Mrs. Swenson feigned irritation with him. “Och, take a cake and be gone with you.”
He plucked a small raisin cake from a mound of baked goods, kissed her again, and crammed the entire thing into his mouth. On the way back to the house, he encountered Lucy. She had removed her bonnet and jacket as well as the lacy piece of clothing that covered her shoulders and chest. Some of her curly black locks of hair had come unpinned and bounced around on the swells of her breasts, leaving him spellbound.
“Where's Hercules?” she asked, as though accusing him of losing her dog. “I have been looking all over for him.”
Mouth still filled with cake, he struggled to swallow, but only succeeded in choking. Pointing at the kitchen door, Alex watched Lucy march off in a huff. At last, he swallowed a mass of cake the size of a crabapple, and wiped his mouth. He remained in the middle of the yard, waiting, half expecting to hear Mrs. Swenson and Lucy break into an argument over the dog. To his relief, Lucy exited the kitchen with Hercules and the cook, both women laughing. Mrs. Swenson pointed to the sky and Lucy nodded. Warning Lucy about the hawk?
She crossed the yard, smiling. The smile disappeared, however, when she met his eyes. She swept past him without a word, nose in the air. Some inexplicable force compelled him to follow her.