Title: Highland Warrior
Author: Heather McCollum
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Joshua Sinclair was once the fiercest and most notorious warrior of the mighty Sinclair clan of Northern Scotland. But now there’s nothing and no one that can make him take up arms again. Except a beautiful woman, it seems. When Kára Flett, daughter of a fallen Norse chief, finds herself unexpectedly sheltering the strongest, most brutal warrior in the land, she throws together a risky and outrageous plan to bring him to her side. Threats of violence bounce right off him. Offers of gold seem to entice him even less. Desperate enough to use the pleas of the village children to sway him, she’s shocked when he’s completely unmoved. There’s only one tactic left for her: seduction. Her hasty proposition falls completely by the wayside, though, as she and the Highlander come together in a carnal inferno. But bringing him into her life also brings his enemies to her clan’s doorstep—the very clan Kára is trying to protect. And as their feelings deepen, Joshua will have to decide between duty and love once and for all.
This is a scene where Kára’s best friend, Brenna, is giving birth, and Joshua is unwillingly roped into helping.
“You are the strongest here, and we need her up,” Hilda said. “The babe is coming finally, but it will be easier on them both that way.”
She beckoned quickly to him, and he found himself walking over, inhaling fully to gain strength. But the heat and smells did not help him. ’Tis like birthing a foal, he told himself, which he had done many times before.
He stepped up onto the bed, his boots planting behind the heavily burdened woman. “Do not let her slip,” Kára said, letting him grasp Brenna under her arms. He had no choice but to hold her under her ample bosom.
Just like a mare in trouble. Like a horse. That is all. Done this dozens of times before. If Brenna could only neigh, he would have little problem with this. He opened his mouth to ask but decided against it. No woman he had ever met responded well to being asked to neigh.
Joshua lifted and Brenna groaned, a sound torn from her straining body. Kára leaped up to loop her friend’s arms through the rope. “She is too weak to hold on,” Kára said, looking at him. “Hold her there.”
“Hold her here?” he asked, his voice rising, but she had already jumped down to the floor, leaving him. “Through the entire foaling…birthing?”
“I see a wee foot,” Hilda called from under Brenna’s wet and bloody smock. Joshua kept his gaze focused on the door, the place he longed to go. Nothing would make him look down at all the blood and fluids pouring from the woman. He’d rather watch entrails fall out of a man. Or maybe even his own arm cut clean off. The loss of his own blood would not make him feel more unsteady than he did at that moment.
“Brenna!” Calder yelled from the front room. He pushed the cloth separating the room aside and strode in with another man behind him, a man Joshua knew.
“Pastor John?” Joshua called from his position on the bed. The cleric’s wide-eyed gaze snapped up to meet his. “What are ye doing on Orkney?” The last he saw the young holy man, Pastor John was performing the wedding ceremony between Joshua’s brother, Cain, and Ella Sutherland back in Caithness.
He swallowed, his gaze dropping to Brenna and then back up to Joshua. “Chief Sinclair knew I was headed this way and…” He had to raise his voice to be heard over Brenna’s keening. “And uh… uh… Cain wanted me to see if you were well.” His gaze dropped again to Brenna, one hand going to his own forehead before he looked back up with wide eyes. “Are…are you well?”
Kára’s grandmother threw her arms out to stop him from answering, which was good because Joshua had no idea if he was well or not. “This is women’s work,” Harriett Flett called loudly.
“He is no woman!” Calder shouted, pointing at Joshua.
“Calder?” Brenna asked, and Joshua felt a bit of strength return to her body.
“What the hell is going on?” Calder asked. But Joshua did not have time to answer as the lass yelled again, her body tensing with another wave of pain.
“Dearest Lord, we call upon your blessings. Bring peace and strength,” Pastor John said, closing his eyes and laying one hand on his Bible.
“He is a minister,” Calder said.
“What?” Brenna yelled, the word full of sudden strength. “I am not dying! I need no holy man.” Anger seemed to give her more strength, helping her heels push into the bed under her.
“She is not dying,” Kára added, fury pinching the beautiful determination in her face.
“Not for last rites,” Calder called, dodging around Kára’s grandmother to tip his face up to Brenna’s. “Will you wed with me, Brenna Muir? Right now, before our child enters this world?”
Another contraction pulled her strength, and Joshua braced himself as her muscles contracted. A deep groan issued from her as her entire body tensed.
“Two feet now,” Hilda called. “We must work the shoulders out.”
“Aye, aye,” Brenna panted, her eyes once more opening to focus on the soon-to-be father. Calder waved Pastor John over. Poor fellow looked pale and shocked by the violent scene. Joshua did not blame him. Men were meant to take life from the world and were not meant for the horrors of bringing life into the world.
Calder glanced at the stains on the bed and Brenna’s smock, his face also going pale as his lips opened.
“’Tis like a horse birth,” Joshua called down to them both. “Think of it that way. But do not ask her to neigh.” Everyone in the room, except Brenna, looked at Joshua as if he’d lost his mind. “It will keep ye standing to think of it that way,” he said.
“I…I have not seen a horse birth,” Calder said.
“Well, damn,” Joshua said. “Deep breaths then, I guess.”
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HIGHLAND WARRIOR is an epic romance with two fiery, clashing, passionate people. The book will carry you away into the windswept world of 16th century Scotland where instant attraction turns into love and adventure turns into legend.
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I am Heather McCollum, writer of 16th and 17th Scottish romance full of adventure and intrigue, sprinkled with humor, history, and spice. Brawny Highlanders and feisty heroines are my favorite characters!
I am also a mom of three kids (ages 14, 20, 22), dog-mom of one rescued geriatric golden retriever, and wife of one 6 foot 4 inch Highlander. When I’m not trying to help my kids make it through the day, baking things I see on The Great British Baking Show, or writing, I’m usually educating women on ovarian cancer (I’m a ten-year survivor). I love kilted heroes, chai lattes, and eating buttered air-popped popcorn for dinner on Friday nights (my dog loves this one too).
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