Title: The Highlander’s Defiant Captive: The Lairds Most Likely Book 4
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
Peace in the glens means war in the bedchamber!
Scotland. 1699. In a time of heroes, the greatest hero of all is Callum Mackinnon, Laird of Achnasheen. Brave, reckless, canny, and handsome enough to turn any lassie weak at the knees, Callum is a legend in the wild corner of the Highlands where he rules. Now the young laird is determined to choose a new path for his clan and end the violent feud with the Drummonds, a conflict that has painted the glens red with blood for centuries. This means taking Bonny Mhairi Drummond, the Rose of Bruard, as his wife. When negotiations with her pig-headed father break down, Callum seizes matters into his own hands and kidnaps the fairest maiden in Scotland, swearing to make her his own.
Bonny Mhairi is the adored only child of Clan Drummond’s doughty chieftain and she’s inherited all her father’s courage and stubbornness. Not to mention his undying hatred for anyone called Mackinnon. When the Mackinnon chieftain steals her away from her home and vows to woo her into accepting him as her husband, she swears that she’ll never consent to be his bride. But trapped inside her foe’s castle, Mhairi finds it hard to cling to old certainties. She detests her arrogant jailer, even as he sparks a fierce, forbidden hunger in her soul.
Loving the enemy…
As Callum and Mhairi wage their passionate war of hearts, danger, treachery and desire circle closer and closer. When her father’s army masses at the gates of Achnasheen, will Mhairi prove herself a Drummond now and forever? Or will new allegiances trump ancient hatred, as the desperate laird battles to win the lass he loves more than his life?
The riders had split up. One already wrestled with Flossie, pulling the shrieking girl across the front of his saddle. Too late for Flossie, but not for Mhairi. She faced forward and ran on. Her speed increased until her breath sawed out in painful gasps. If she reached her mount, she might still get away.
A few yards short, a huge gray horse skidded in front of her to block her way. Even as she knew she'd never outrun a mounted man, she veered to the left. As she ran, she fumbled in her pocket.
She sobbed for breath, and there was a painful stitch in her side, but she kept running. The rider carrying Flossie had galloped away. Her maid’s screams faded over the distance. Galloping hooves set up a horrid counterpoint to her frantic heartbeat.
When a strong hand slammed down to grab her shoulder, she responded as she'd been taught.
"A pox on ye!"
The man’s furious curse echoed in her ears. She kept running, slipping and stumbling on the thick grass as her strength failed. The gray horse passed her and drew to another juddering stop. She flung herself to the side as the man leaped to the ground and advanced.
Only then did she realize her mistake. He’d chased her the way a cowherd chased a runaway heifer, into a corner she couldn't get out of. She been too frightened to see his strategy. Fool, fool, fool.
High stone walls rose on three sides of her. Mhairi retreated a step, then halted to face her pursuer. She squared her shoulders and planted her feet firm on the ground.
Daring him to approach her, she brought her dagger up. Even with nowhere else to run, she refused to cower before a filthy Mackinnon.
"Ye willnae touch me, Black Callum," she spat.
She was delighted to see that a bright red stain spread down his slashed white sleeve. If only she’d managed to cut his throat and not his arm.
"Aye, that I will." He paused and spoke in an assessing tone. "Ye ken who I am."
"Aye." Her chest heaved as she battled to steady her breath. When those clever dark eyes dropped to her gaping white blouse under its loose drawstring, the blood in her veins turned to ice.
They called him Black Callum or Callum Dubh for that thick mane of long hair, black as a crow’s wing. But looking at him, she couldn’t help thinking that perhaps he was called Black Callum because of the sins staining his soul.
"That’s braw. Because I ken who ye are, too, Bonny Mhairi Drummond."
She straightened her spine, so angry with herself for letting him trap her that she almost forgot this encounter’s likely outcome. All was not lost yet. In her humble linen blouse and faded plaid skirt, she wasn’t dressed like the chieftain’s daughter.
"Och, you’re mad," she said with a fair attempt at careless scorn. "Mhairi Drummond wouldnae be seen dead in these rags. I’m a serving girl at the castle."
One black eye brow tilted in enquiry. Skeptical enquiry, God rot his black Mackinnon soul. "Is that so?"
"Aye. My name is Polly."
"Aye. So there's nae point expecting a ransom."
"I'm no’ after a ransom," he said with a hint of grimness. The bright ebony gaze focused on her face as he loomed closer. "Ye won't prick me again, by heaven."
"Prick ye?" Cursing her sweaty palms, she tightened her grip on the small dagger. “I’ll carve out your liver before I let ye touch me."
The glint in his eyes did nothing to reassure her. He held out a hand marked red with his blood. She’d struck hard, if wildly, when he reached down from his horse. "That’s rare insolence from a serving wench."
Mhairi struggled to steady her voice. She wasn't daft. She knew the likely outcome of this confrontation. But by the devil, she wouldn't cringe and beg. And he’d have to fight to take her.
"A Drummond serving wench trumps a Mackinnon any day, even one who thinks he’s the cock of the walk."
His mouth quirked in a sardonic smile. The man’s effortless self-assurance made her want to jab her knife into one of those bright black eyes. "In that case, a Drummond heiress is a prize indeed."
She kept the small knife raised. "I'm nae heiress, Mackinnon. You're mistaken."
"No, I dinnae think I am." He withdrew his hand and folded his arms over the fine white shirt covering his brawny chest. "You're Bonny Mhairi Drummond, all right."
"I'm Polly, I tell ye."
He shook his head. "It’s nae use lying. Only one lassie fits the description. Hair red as a rowanberry, a face like a flower, eyes as blue as a periwinkle in spring. Aye, you're the Drummond's precious wee bairn."
Mhairi sucked in a jagged breath and made herself look at him properly. So far, she’d mostly been aware of his height and muscled power, because they represented the immediate threat.
Now, her eyes took in every detail of this man who had come to steal her. She bit back a gasp of dismay. If there was any justice, the Mackinnon laird should look filthy and hulking and contemptible. But he was a handsome man with glittering dark eyes and features as finely sculpted as the stone angels in the chapel at Bruard Castle. Even the long black hair he’d tied away from his face was clean.
The devil always comes with a pretty face, she reminded herself. He was no angel, this bastard.
"Nothing to say?"
"I'm no’ Mhairi Drummond," she insisted.
His expression turned cynical. "I hear ye, lassie. It matters naught. Whoever the hell ye are, you're coming back to Achnasheen."
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This is full-blooded old-style historical romance! A gallant Highlander and his defiant lady must unite feuding clans to find happiness together. Come on the adventure! This story was inspired by a family legend that is mentioned in The Laird’s Willful Lass, the first book in the Lairds Most Likely series.
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Australian Anna Campbell has written 11 multi-award-winning historical romances for Avon HarperCollins and Grand Central Publishing. As an independently published author, she’s released 27 bestselling stories, including 10 in her latest series, The Lairds Most Likely. Anna has won numerous awards for her Regency-set stories, including RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice, the Booksellers Best, the Golden Quill (three times), the Heart of Excellence (twice), the Write Touch, the Aspen Gold (twice), and the Australian Romance Readers' favorite historical romance (five times).
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Website: http:// www.annacampbell.com