Title: Kilty Secrets
Author: Anna Markland
Genre: Highlander historical romantic comedy
As the chief’s second son, Ewan MacKinloch resents being offered up as the sacrificial lamb in a marriage arranged to end a 300-year feud with the MacCarrons. He trades places with a one-armed clansman in the hopes Shona MacCarron will refuse to go through with the wedding. Unbeknownst to him, Shona too has traded places with an aunt known as Lady Lazy-Eye, so she can avoid the marriage arranged after the recent death of her father. Confusion reigns when alchemy draws them to each other, and they risk aiding the cause of factions ambitious to usurp the hereditary MacCarron chieftaincy.
Shona stalked to the door of her uncle’s solar, then turned, fisted her hands on her waist, filled her lungs and shouted, “I willna marry a Mackinloch and ye canna make me. Ye’re nay my father.”
Seated in his favorite chair by the hearth, Kendric MacCarron sighed wearily. “I told ye, lass, I had to agree to a hand-fasting. And I am yer laird.”
Blood pulsed in her ears. She knew Kendric grieved the recent death of his older brother, but it was a bitter reminder that he had inherited the lairdship. She lost the last vestige of control and gave her anger full rein. “My father must be turning in his newly-dug grave. What worthy mon will want me after I’ve warmed the bed of a cursed Mackinloch for a twelvemonth?”
She hurried out before he had a chance to reply, slamming the heavy door hard. Panting with the effort, she kept the tears at bay until she reached the privacy of her own apartments a few paces along the narrow hallway.
She shoved open the door and from somewhere found the strength to slam it behind her. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her auntie’s wide-eyed surprise. Jeannie struggled to extricate herself from the deep upholstered chair by the window as Shona flung herself onto the bed and wept into the bolster.
Her aunt hurried over to perch on the edge of the mattress. “Whatever ails ye, lass?” she asked, stroking her hair. “What has my foolish brother said to upset ye so?”
Shona found comfort in the familiar scent of rosemary. She rolled over and accepted the offer of a kerchief. Sitting up, she blew her nose, which helped clear her ears but seemed to make the hiccups worse. “He’s betrothed me,” she said hoarsely.
“Weel, ye’re of marrying age. Yer dear father would have done the same.”
Shona slid off the rumpled bed and readjusted her disheveled clothing. “Da would ne’er have betrothed me to a Mackinloch.”
Jeannie gasped. “A Mackinloch?”
Shona paced, the kerchief clutched tight in her fist. “Aye, and not even the laird’s eldest son. Some second or mayhap third in line. I didna catch his name. A nobody.”
Jeannie shook her head. “Kendric cares for ye. He must have a good reason for doing this. Yer father took part in the talks at Clunes. Perhaps…”
Shona appreciated the difficulty of her aunt’s position. She owed loyalty to her brothers—one dead and one now laird. But Jeannie was the babe of that family, a bairn born to a woman thought past her childbearing years. She was closer in age to Shona, more a sister than an auntie, especially since both their mothers had died bringing them into the world.
She chose to ignore the possibility her father had gone along with the plan to wed her to a Mackinloch. “Kendric claims he had nay choice. The agreement with the Chattan federation has to be sealed. But he agreed only to a hand-fasting.”
Jeannie brightened. “Weel—”
“’Tis worse than marriage,” Shona wailed. “I’ll be soiled goods when yon Mackinloch abandons me after a year and a day.”
“Aye,” Jeannie whispered.
Shona was instantly contrite. Her aunt’s husband had supposedly abandoned her after a hand-fasting, citing fears his bairns might inherit the lazy eye that marred Jeannie's otherwise beautiful face. It was a false excuse put forth by a coward. The bitter truth was that Ailig had been banished from MacCarron lands by Shona’s father as punishment for his brutality.
“Forgive me,” she murmured as she sat down next to her auntie and took her hand. “I’m thoughtless. My mouth runs away with me.”
Jeannie forced a smile, the afflicted eye wandering more than usual. “Dinna fash. I’m nay sorry Ailig is gone. He was a cruel mon.”
It was the closest Jeannie had ever come to speaking of what she’d endured at Ailig’s hands, and Shona feared it might be an omen. Her heart sank. “Surely my uncle wouldna betroth me to a brute,” she whispered.
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It’s a tongue-in-cheek look at the lighter side of clan feuding. Lots of laughs.
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As an amateur genealogist (aka an addict of family tree research) I became obsessed with tracing my English roots back to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century.
This turned out to be a pipe dream since I am not descended from the nobility and records were not kept for "common folks" until much later. Even then, early parish records are often indecipherable.
As a result, I began to write stories about a noble medieval family I conjured from my imagination. The Montbryces were born.
Like many people, I had an inner compulsion to write one good book. What was originally intended as that one book about my fictional family eventually became the 12-book series, The Montbryce Legacy.
In other words, writing superseded genealogy as my principal addiction, and I have since published more than 60 novels and novellas. Almost all are historical romances that feature, Vikings, Highlanders, medieval knights or Regency earls. You can find more details on my website https://annamarkland.com/.
I've lived most of my life in Canada, though I was born in the UK. An English grammar school education instilled in me a love of European history which continues to this day. While I may boast of being a proud Canadian, I'm still a Lancashire lass at heart.
Before becoming a full-time writer, I was an elementary school teacher, a job I loved. I then worked as administrator for a world-wide disaster relief organization.
I love cats, although I haven't been able to bring myself to adopt another one since unexpectedly losing Topaz a few years ago.
I have few domestic skills. You'll notice most of my heroines hate sewing!
I try to follow three simple writing guidelines. I give my characters free rein to tell their story, which often turns out to be different from the original version in my head. I'm a firm believer in love at first sight. My protagonists may initially deny the attraction but, eventually, my heroes and heroines find their soul mates. It seems only natural then to include scenes of intimacy enjoyed by people who love each other deeply. I believe such intimacy is wholesome. Historical accuracy is important to me, although I have been known to tweak history when necessary. I write romance because I find happy endings very satisfying.
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