Highlanders Historic Romance: FALLING FOR THE HIGHLANDER by Lynsay Sands
"Readers with a weakness for gallant Scottish lairds will be delighted by the simplicity and purity of Murine and Dougall's romance—especially the few wild and erotic scenes out in the elements. A love story as bighearted and exciting as the highlander at its heart." —Kirkus Reviews
If there’s one thing Lady Murine will not abide, it’s her virtue being handed over to the highest bidder. When her scoundrel brother does just that—in exchange for a few Scottish horses, no less—she’s appalled, but she refuses to stand by and let it happen. She’s determined to take matters into her own hands, even if it means braving the countryside alone—or worse, with a tempting Scot by her side. Dougall set out to sell a few horses to an English lord; he never expected he’d help smuggle a beautiful fugitive back to Scotland instead. When her brother offered Lady Murine for a few horses, Dougall was disgusted and promptly turned him down. But encountering the runaway lass on the road out of town sets something pounding in Dougall’s heart. There’s something about this fierce woman that makes him want to do more than just help her escape. He wants to protect her—with his life and his heart. If Dougall’s not careful, this Scot might just end up tying the knot . . .
From the author . . . The fourth book in my latest Scottish Highlanders series concerns Murine Carmichael, another friend of Jo and Saidh's whom we met in To Marry A Scottish Highlander. Murine is in trouble. Her brother has wagered away her dowry and now he's on the brink of using her as a commodity to stave off his creditors. She has to find a way to escape him before his plans for her come to fruition only transportation is an issue because he also wagered away their horses. Hmm...
384 Pgs. |Heat: 3 | Avon | Jan 31, 2017
ENJOY AN EXCERPT
from Falling for the Highlander
Murine glanced up sharply from the message she was writing as her maid entered the room. She waited until Beth closed the bedchamber door before asking, "Did ye find out who they are?"
"Nay." The brunette looked vexed. "None o' the maids or the lasses in the kitchen seem to ken, or if they do they're no' telling me."
"Oh," Murine said with disappointment, then shook her head and returned her gaze to the message she'd been writing. Mouth tightening, she signed her name to the bottom. "It matters not. They're Scots. Surely their trip home will take them past the Buchanans or the Drummonds and they will deliver this for me." Biting her lip, she began to wave the parchment about to dry it and added, "I ha'e a couple coins left I can give them fer their trouble."
"Most like they'll pocket the coins, say they'll deliver it and toss it away as soon as they've left Danvries," Beth said unhappily. "I do no' ken why ye just do no' send one o' yer brother's men with the message."
"I have sent three that way and got no response," Murine reminded her grimly. Mouth flattening with displeasure, she admitted, "I begin to suspect Montrose is not sending them at all."
"But why would he do that?"
"'Tis hard to say with my brother," Murine muttered unhappily. "He's a . . . difficult man."
Beth snorted. "He's a selfish, greedy cur, hell-bent on wagering his life away and yours with it. But I see no reason for him no' to send yer messages to yer friends."
"Neither do I," Murine admitted unhappily. "But if he did send them, then . . ." She bit her lip, unwilling to give voice to her biggest fear. If Montrose had sent her messages, then Saidh, Jo and Edith just weren't bothering to answer.
That thought was a troubling one and made her worry that she had said or done something when last they were together to upset them all. Murine had wracked her brain trying to sort out what that might be, but could think of nothing. She'd then switched to wondering if perhaps her brother wasn't sending them as he assured her he would. She couldn't imagine why, but was actually beginning to hope that was the case. It was certainly preferable to thinking her three best friends had turned their backs on her for some reason.
"It should be dry enough now," she muttered and quickly rolled, then sealed the parchment.
"How are ye going to get it to the Scots without yer brother seeing?" Beth asked worriedly as she stood up.
"I heard Montrose ordering Cook to be sure he has lots of food and drink on hand when the Scots get here," Murine explained as she slid the parchment up her sleeve and checked to be sure that it was concealed and wasn't being crushed. "I shall slip the message to one of the men when Montrose is distracted with eating."
"Yer brother is offering food and drink to someone?" Beth asked dryly. "I never thought to see the like. The bastard's so cheap I'd think he'd choke on the offer."
"I expect he's hoping to fill them with ale or whiskey to make them more amenable to accepting credit rather than demanding payment for the horses he wants," Murine said, satisfied that the parchment would be fine up her sleeve. "Aye, well, Lord knows he has no' the coin to actually buy them. He's already gambled away all of his own money, and your dower to boot," Beth said bitterly.
"Aye," Murine agreed wearily. It was not a subject she cared to contemplate. She'd been horrified when she'd learned that bit of news. She'd thought her situation dire enough when she'd had a dower but no betrothed, but without dower, it would be impossible to find anyone willing to marry her. It now looked like she would live out her days here at Danvries as an old maid, dependent on her selfish brother, and that was only if he didn't tire of her presence and send her off to the Abbey to become a nun.
Pushing that depressing thought from her mind, she brushed the wrinkles out of her gown, straightened her shoulders and headed for the door. "Come. We will sit by the fire in the great hall until they come in. Then once the food arrives, we will use that as an excuse to join the table and slip my message to one of the men."
"I'd been told your animals were superior and they certainly are that."
Dougall waited patiently as Montrose Danvries ran a hand down the mare's side and then circled the horse, examining every inch of her.
Lord Danvries next moved on to the stallion and gave him the same attention, examining his withers and legs, sides and head just as thoroughly. His expression was a combination of wonder and appreciation when he paused at the beast's head.
Rubbing one hand down the stallion's nose, he murmured, "Exactly what I was hoping for."
"If they meet yer expectations, perhaps we should discuss payment," Dougall suggested.
Danvries stiffened, several expressions flickering across his face. Settling on a wide, fake smile, the man turned away toward the keep. "Come. Let us go inside for beverages."
"I told ye," Conran muttered, stepping up beside Dougall. "The bastard has no' the coin. He lost it all in that last wager with his king."
Dougall sighed at his brother's words, recognizing satisfaction amidst the irritation in the younger man's tone. Conran had always liked saying I told ye so.
"Come along, gentlemen," Danvries said without looking back. "There is much to discuss."
Mouth tightening, Dougall glared at the man's retreating back. Danvries should have tossed him a bag of coins, and bid him on his way. The only time the buyer wanted to "discuss" matters was when he didn't have the coin, or wanted to talk down the price. Dougall was not one to be talked down. Despite knowing this was a great waste of time, though, he waved away his brother's further mutterings and trailed the Englishman out of the stables and toward the keep. He didn't need to look around to know that Conran, Geordie and Alick were following. It had been a long journey here and they were all thirsty. The least Danvries could do was see them fed and watered before they took their beasts and headed home to Scotland.
"He'll try to cheat ye," Conran warned, on Dougall's heels. "Bloody English bastards. Most o' them'd sell their mother for a coin."
"Nah," their younger brother, Geordie, put in behind them. "It's their daughters they sell. The old women wouldn't be worth a coin. They're too bitter from years living with the English bastards to be worth anything. The daughters, though, are usually sweet and pretty and have not yet grown bitter. Get 'em away young enough and they're almost as good as a Scottish lass. Almost," he repeated, stressing the point.
"Lord Danvries has neither a mother nor a daughter, so I'm sure that's no' a worry," Dougall muttered impatiently.
"He has a sister though," Conran pointed out. When Dougall glanced to him with surprise, he nodded. "An old maid left to whither on the vine thanks to Lord Danvries wagering away her dower."
"He wagered away her dower?" Geordie asked with surprise when Dougall didn't comment.
"Is that even allowed?" Alick added with a frown.
"From what I heard, he was named her guardian in the father's will so had control over it," Conran said with a shrug.
Dougall shook his head and they all fell silent as they trailed Danvries into the great hall and noted the people milling about.
There were soldiers at the table enjoying their noon repast, servants bustling about cleaning, and a lady seated by the fire. Dougall's gaze slid over the woman in passing, and then almost immediately moved back to her. She was young. Not in the first blush of youth, but perhaps twenty or so and still retaining some of its dew. Dougall guessed she must be Danvries's bride. If so, he was a damned lucky man, for she seemed to glow as brightly as the fire in that dim great hall. Her gown was a pale rose color with white trim on a shapely figure, and her hair was a halo of golden tresses that poured over her shoulders and down her back. She was peering down at some needlework she was stitching, but when Danvries called for ale, she glanced over briefly and Dougall's attention turned to her face. Heart-shaped lips, large doe eyes and a straight little nose all worked together in an oval face to make her one of the most striking women he'd ever seen. Danvries was definitely a lucky man.
"To readers’ delight, Sands relies on a classic Scots romance plotline filled with her hallmark style, where mayhem and madness merge with passion and a colorful historical backdrop. As always, her characters are pitch-perfect for the time and place, and readers will relish this enjoyable tale."
—RT Book Reviews
Avon is hosting a tour-wide giveaway for a print set of books 1 – 3 in the Highlanders Series: Includes AN ENGLISH BRIDE IN SCOTLAND, TO MARRY A SCOTTISH LAIRD and THE HIGHLANDER TAKES A BRIDE (US Only). Ends 02/10/2017.
Lynsay Sands is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She's been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there's occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that's just a big bonus.
Visit Lynsay at www.lynsaysands.net.
We're pleased to share this excerpt as part of a tour hosted by Tasty Book Tours.