A Kiss for a Highlander
I’m so excited that A Kiss for a Highlander, Book One in the Georgian Rebel Series, will be published by Samhain Publishing on June 9th! Here is a taste of what’s to come…
A passion that burns away centuries of hate…
Stranded in the heart of England after Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hasty retreat, highlander Fraser Lachlan has sworn to stay by his injured friend’s side. But when a kindly English family takes Jack in to be cared for by the governess and healer at their Derbyshire estate, Fraser can only watch helplessly.
It’s just a matter of time before Jack is turned over to the Crown as a traitor, but Fraser’s attempt to rescue his friend is met with the blunt end of a candlestick.
Martha Wantage wears every reason she hates the Scots on her body—in the scars from a violent, fiery attack that killed her family. Now she has not only one unconscious Jacobite rebel at her mercy, but two. And she can’t resist cursing her enemy with the “kiss of hate”.
That kiss unleashes a storm of passion that rages quickly out of control. But with the legacy of Martha’s scars weighing heavy on her mind, and Fraser’s duty calling him to Culloden Moor, it may be too late to explore whether theirs is a desire borne of hate…or love.
Cautiously, Martha made her way down the cellar steps. Because there were no windows, she carried a branch of candles into the dark space with her, holding it at shoulder height. She was able to view the whole of the cellar in the flickering light. Several centuries’ worth of clutter accumulated by the Delacourt family crowded the area. Broken or discarded furniture, old chests and stacks of picture frames lined the walls. To one as organised as Martha, the cellar had always been the cause of much tongue-clucking. But for Mr. Delacourt, it was next summer’s job, and because out of sight was out of mind, she too had let it be. Now that it needed to do double duty as a prison cell, she viewed it afresh and found it most unsatisfactory.
Her prisoner had not been obliging enough to die in the night, although he continued to lie still and quiet. Exactly as she had left him. A jolt of compassion—unexpected and unwanted—shot through her. It was one thing to kill him outright in the heat of the moment as, having broken into the house, he was in the act of attacking Rosie. It would be quite another to leave him to die like an injured animal on the dusty floor of the cellar. Even if he was a Scotsman. The wound to the back of his head, encrusted now with dried blood, was vicious. In the gloom of the candlelight, his strong features appeared lifeless. Pursing her lips, Martha considered him for a moment and then went away to fetch what she needed.
On her return, she set about cleaning the blood from the gash the candlestick had made in the back of his skull. Her task was hampered by the poor light, the fact that she had to kneel on the cellar floor, and the length and thickness of his red-gold hair. When she had completed this undertaking to her satisfaction, she sat back and surveyed her handiwork grimly. Having never been called upon to hit anyone over the head before, it had been difficult to judge the amount of force required. In the cold light of day, it would appear she had been somewhat heavy-handed. The injury was severe, and when he recovered—if he recovered—he would have a nasty headache and a lasting scar.
“It is quite your own fault for invading other people’s countries and then breaking into their houses,” she told the figure on the floor. It was the same voice she used to scold young Harry for his youthful transgressions.
She uncorked the little bottle of ointment that she made herself from an old recipe of her mother’s, using a mix of honey, rosemary, arnica and other herbs in differing quantities. Since the highlander’s shoulder-length hair was going to seriously hamper her efforts to apply this salve to his wound, she took up her scissors and hacked at the thickly waving locks until she was satisfied. Carefully, she pressed the sticky, scented mixture in and around the laceration. Finally, she placed a torn strip of cloth over the wound and bound another, longer strip, around his head. This she tied in place to hold the whole secure.
The cellar was chilly, and she covered the long, well-muscled figure with the blanket she had brought with her, tucking it neatly around and underneath him. A bitter smile touched her lips as she recalled her childhood in the border town of Bamburgh. Thank the Lord my father is not here to see me take such tender care of a hated Scotsman!
Mindful of the need to give him water, Martha dipped a cotton pad into the jug she had brought with her and wiped it around and inside the man’s lips. She couldn’t help noticing that his face was very handsome, with finely crafted features and a strong, square jaw. His mouth was particularly beautiful, carved as though modelled on a painting by a grand master, with a lower lip that was just slightly fuller than perfection demanded. Without pausing to consider what she was doing or why she was doing it, she allowed her thumb to trace the plump cushion of that lip. It felt like silk against her skin. Succumbing to another overwhelming impulse, she leaned over and pressed her lips to his.
“Better a wound in love from a friend than a kiss in hate from an enemy.” It was her father’s version of the Bible verse. The wound she had bestowed on him had not been one of love or of friendship. “And, oh, how I hate you, Scots bastard.” The words were a barely whispered breath into the warmth of that near-perfect mouth. The kiss of hate she gave now was for him, his kin and his countrymen. The men who had destroyed her family and left her own body scarred and grotesque. The men who had condemned her forever to her lonely spinsterhood.
A Kiss for a Highlander can pre-ordered now from Samhain Publishing (where you can read another sneak peek):
A Kiss for a Highlander is also available to pre-order from Amazon: