Title: The Highlander’s Unexpected Proposal
Author: Heather McCollum
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
A lass begging to marry him might top the list of “oddest things to happen,” but Chief Adam Macquarie is desperate. And no matter how much he hates to do it, he’s not above lying to get what he wants. Starting with the fact that he just omitted the truth about the situation back at his home—where there are no women and only a handful of other people. Because he has a secret need for a wife himself, one she won’t be too happy about when she finds out.
Lark Montgomerie is thrilled the brawny chief agrees to save her from her drunken father’s machinations of wedding her off to the first fool that agrees. He’s easy on the eyes and no one can be worse than her current options. Now a new life awaits her, on an exciting Scottish isle no less, and nothing will dampen her spirits. That is, until she arrives in her new homeland and realizes more than a few things are amiss…
Lark held her breath as she stared at the giant Highlander. With his deep frown, broad shoulders, and the lethal sword at his side, he looked able to slice through Hell and carry her away.
“I choose Adam Macquarie,” she repeated. If he had no interest, he wouldn’t have stepped forward. Her face warmed in the continued silence. Adam took a step forward, making her able to draw in breath.
“I am marrying her,” Fergus MacLeod yelled, barreling his way through the watching crowd.
Giles Cameron was half a step behind Fergus. “Or me. I asked for her hand first.”
Roylin made a noise in the back of his throat, his eyes narrowing on Adam. “Ye want to wed Lark?” She dropped her gaze to the ground at his rough tone, pushing the ache of his neglect down into a deep well within her.
Giles and Fergus stood breathing like a pair of ornery oxen. She couldn’t imagine herself living with one of them or, nightmare of nightmares, lying naked with one or both of them while they pawed her. A wave of nausea made her turn back to look at Adam. It was him or wolves.
“He is looking for a bride,” she said, trying to ignore all the watching eyes and whispers broken only by the crackle of the flames. She would be talked about for years after this. The townspeople already had enough to gossip about with Roylin’s drunken spouting off about his sins. But life on Adam’s isle would be private. No one there would know her at all. None of her new neighbors would have lifted Roylin out of a ditch or complained that he’d fouled their doorstep or would come by to warn her that he’d talked endlessly about her looking like her mother.
“I would speak to Lark alone,” Adam said, his warm hand wrapping around her clutched fist. It was solid but not rough.
“Ye are not taking her anywhere,” Fergus MacLeod said, pulling his sword.
Adam’s brother and an older man appeared, their swords drawn and their faces just as lethal as the glinting blades. Adam looked to Roylin. “Unless ye wish for your Beltane festival and all these other weddings to be tainted with the spilling of human blood, I suggest ye let me talk to Lark alone.”
Her father waved his hand at Adam. “Take her. Giles and Fergus, stand back.”
Lark walked off with him, the two of them tethered with his grasp. He stopped near three saddled horses and dropped her hand to turn to her. “Lass,” he said, searching her face, “I am a stranger to ye.”
“You said you need a wife. Well, your brother did.” She stared up into his darkly handsome face. His closed expression told her nothing of his thoughts. She inhaled. “And I am in need of an escape, one that is legal and binding.”
Adam grasped the back of his neck like he might have a pain there. “Ye need to know where I live was ill-used and needs hard work to make it fresh and thriving again.”
“I was raised on hard work.” Lord knows she was a servant more than a daughter all these years, even with her mother’s protection.
“The isle has few people on it,” he said, glancing past her.
She looked over her shoulder where Adam’s brother was having some heated words with Giles and Cameron. Time was moving quickly, and those two idiots might decide they would rather start a war than give up their prize.
“Privacy would be a pleasure,” she said, looking back to him.
“And I have brothers who—”
“I am used to large families.” She took a step closer, desperation making her bold. Her hands curled into his tunic as she looked up at him. She watched the lines of his face, and the tilt of his lips. “Will you beat me?” she asked.
He blinked, frowning deeper. “Never.”
“Do you get drunk most nights?”
She paused, searching his face for hesitation or lies, but she saw none. “Are you an honorable man?”
“I try to be.”
He didn’t sound like a liar, someone who would boast about their integrity.
“And you need a wife?”
He paused, watching her closely, and then glanced over toward his brother. “Aye.”
Lark yanked on his tunic, making him look back at her. “Then marry me, Adam Macquarie, and get me the hell out of here.”
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The Highlander’s Unexpected Proposal is the first book in a new Highlander series set in 16th century Scotland. Adam is a brawny, serious Highland chief trying to rebuild his nearly extinct clan. Lark is escaping a terrible life by choosing Adam to wed. Misunderstandings and half truths spur an epic adventure on Wolf Isle, which everyone knows is cursed – everyone except Lark.
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I am Heather McCollum, writer of 16th and 17th century Scottish romance full of adventure and intrigue, sprinkled with humor, history, and spice. Brawny, broody Highlanders with golden hearts and feisty heroines are my favorites!
I am also a mom of three kids, dog-mom of one rescued geriatric golden retriever, kitten-grandmom of a Calico, 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 10-year survivor). I love kilted heroes, dragonflies, watching birds, chai lattes, and eating buttered air-popped popcorn for dinner on Friday nights.
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