He is Lachlan MacRath, laird and pirate. And he intends to be her lover…
Lady Francine Walsingham could not believe this fierce Highland warrior is to be her escort into Scotland. It is whispered that Lachlan MacRath has magical powers…how else do you explain why her countrymen call him the Sorcerer of the Seas? But trust him she must, for a treacherous plot is about to reveal all her secrets…and Francine has no choice but to act as his lover to keep her enemies at bay.
When Lachlan first sees Francine, the English beauty stirs his blood like no woman has ever before. As luck would have it, they must now play the besotted couple so he can protect her ….and Lachlan is determined to use all his seductive prowess to properly woo her into his bed.
The Cheviot Hills
The Border between England and Scotland
Stretched flat on the blood-soaked ground, Lachlan MacRath gazed up at the cloudless morning sky and listened to the exhausted moans of the wounded.
The dead and the dying lay scattered across the lush spring grass. Overhead the faint rays of dawn broke above the hilltops, as the buttercups and bluebells dipped and swayed in the soft breeze. The gruesome corpses were sprawled amidst the wildflowers, their vacant eyes staring upward to the heavens, the stumps of their severed arms and legs still oozing blood and gore. Dented helmets, broken swords, axes, and pikes gave mute testimony to the ferocity of the combatants. Here and there, a loyal destrier, trained to war, grazed calmly alongside its fallen master.
Following close upon daylight, the scavengers would come creeping, ready to strip the bodies of anything worth a shilling: armor, dirks, boots, belts. If they were Scotsmen, he’d be in luck. If not, he’d soon be dead. There wasn’t a blessed thing he could do but wait. He was pinned beneath his dead horse, and all efforts to free himself during the night had proven fruitless.
In the fierce, running battle of the evening before, the warriors on horseback had left behind all who’d fallen. Galloping across the open, rolling countryside, Scots and English had fought savagely, till it was too dark to tell friend from foe. There was no way of knowing the outcome of the battle, for victory had been determined miles away.
Hell, it was Lachlan’s own damn fault. He’d come on the foray into England with King James for a lark. After delivering four new canons to the castle at Roxburgh, along with the Flemish master gunners to fire them, he’d decided not to return to his ship immediately as planned. The uneventful crossing on the Sea Hawk from the Low Countries to Edinburgh, followed by the tedious journey to the fortress, with the big guns pulled by teams of oxen, had left him eager for a bit of adventure.
When he’d learned that the king was leading a small force into Northumberland to retrieve cattle raided by Sassenach outlaws, the temptation to join them had been too great to resist. There was nothing like a hand-to-hand skirmish with his ancient foe to get a man’s blood pumping through his veins.
But Lord Dacre, Warden of the Marches, had surprised the Scots with a much larger, well-armed force of his own, and what should have been a carefree rout turned into deadly combat.
A plea for help interrupted Lachlan’s brooding thoughts. Not far away, a wounded English soldier, who’d cried out in pain during the night, raised himself up on one elbow.
“Lychester! Over here, sir! It’s Will Jeffries!”
Lachlan watched from beneath slit lids as another Sassenach came into view. Attired in the splendid armor of the nobility, the newcomer rode a large, caparisoned black horse. He’d clearly come looking for someone, for he held the reins of a smaller chestnut, its saddle empty and waiting.
“Here I am, Marquess,” the young man named Jeffries called weakly. He lifted one hand in a trembling wave as the marquess of Lychester drew near to his countryman. Dismounting, he approached the wounded soldier.
“Thank God,” Jeffries said with a hoarse groan. “I’ve taken a sword blade in my thigh. The cut’s been oozing steadily. I was afraid I wouldn’t make it through the night.”
Lychester didn’t say a word. He came to stand behind the injured man, knelt down on one knee, and raised his fallen comrade to a seated position. Grabbing a hank of his yellow hair, the marquess jerked the fair head back and deftly slashed the exposed throat from ear to ear. Then he calmly wiped his blade on the youth’s doublet, lifted him up in his arms, and threw the body face down over the chestnut’s back.
The English nobleman glanced around, checking, no doubt, to see if there’d been a witness to the cold-blooded execution. Lachlan held his breath and remained motionless, his lids lowered over his eyes. Apparently satisfied, the marquess mounted, grabbed the reins of the second horse and rode away.
Lachlan slowly exhaled.
He knew the English were a bloodthirsty race. But he hadn’t thought that included the murder of a helpless patriot on a deserted battlefield.
What kind of bastard did such a traitorous thing?
MY FASCINATION WITH HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Sometimes I think I was born to write historical romance. It’s the combination of my two passions, passions I have felt since I was a child. History and romance.
Reading was my first love. For Christmas, my parents always gave each of us a book—along with other presents, of course. I remember reading Anne of Green Gables and Little Women over and over till the pages were worn and tattered.
During the long summer days of my childhood, my cousins and I would walk to the little public library in our town. There I discovered The Wizard of Oz and The Bobbsy Twins, along with shelves of children’s books. I can no longer recall their titles, but the sheer pleasure of reading, I’ll never forget.
After that, came the movies. I clearly remember seeing Ben Hur, the Ten Commandments, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and The Vikings with Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh. How I loved those historical dramas!
I remember the first time I discovered Georgette Heyer in the library. I stayed up all night and read April Lady straight through from cover to cover. And The Scarlet Pimpernel had all the swashbuckling excitement I loved.
When I grew older, I read War and Peace. What a fantastic novel, with several heartbreaking love stories woven throughout the historical narrative of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and the burning of Moscow. If you doubt that Leo Tolstoy understood the power and passion of love, just consider Anna Karenina. What pathos. What romance. What joy to read!
When I began to write in earnest, I knew, without a doubt, I would write historical romances. Since I loved the Regencies of Georgette Heyer, I started Sunshine and Shadow, set in Georgian England. It was my third novel published.
Stories of the American West were also very popular at the time, and I decided to write about a heroine who crosses the country on a topographical expedition. I read books about the early trappers, the first expeditions across the great plains, the first explorers to find a way over the Sierras. From this research came Cherish the Dream, my first published novel.
When I first begin a story, I choose the time and setting I’d like to write about. After I decide that, I immerse myself in research. I read history books, biographies, autobiographies, and primary sources. To tell the truth, I overdo it. But from this extensive reading, the plot begins to take shape. Something that happened in history will spark my imagination. What if… And off I go.
Unlike some authors, I don’t stay in the same time and place for long. I’ve written about the Cheyenne several times. In Warrior Dreams, a lady doctor goes to Lame Deer Reservation in Montana with Mennonite missionaries after the Battle of the Little Big Horn. In Dream Catcher, a proxy bride from the mountains of Kentucky lands among the Cheyenne when she runs away from her abusive bridegroom, shortly after the Civil War.
My stories have been set in Regency England and the Scottish Highlands in the 1880’s. One heroine even traveled to Istanbul.
At the present time, I’m immersed in Scotland and England during the reigns of James IV and Henry VII. The inspiration for the Highland Lairds Trilogy came from the true story of three Scottish brothers who were privateers. They were given letters of marque and reprisal by their king, with orders to stop the pirates preying on Scottish merchantmen.
In the first book, THE MAC LEAN GROOM, Rory MacLean, known as the King’s Avenger, captures the grandfather of Joanna Macdonald and brings him back to Edinburgh for trial and hanging. As a reward, King James gives Joanna to Rory for his wife, along with her castle.
In the second book, LACHLAN’S BRIDE, the second brother is sent to England by James IV to escort the king’s bride, Princess Margaret Tudor, to Scotland for the royal wedding. This historic journey is the background for the love story. Henry VII assigns Lachlan to guard Lady Francine, an English countess rumored to be the king’s mistress, on their way to Edinburgh.
At present, I’m working on the third book of the trilogy, with the tentative title of KEIR’S STORY. Keir will be sent to the Hebrides by James IV to put down a rebellion by the Lord of the Isles.
I’m looking forward with excitement to the release of LACHLAN’S BRIDE, an Avon Impulse, on April 30th.
Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts with your readers.