Title: The Highlander’s English Bride: The Lairds Most Likely Book 6
Author: Anna Campbell
Genre: Historical Romance
An impossible pairing… Hamish Douglas, the mercurial Laird of Glen Lyon, has never got along with independent, smart-mouthed Emily Baylor. Which wouldn’t matter if this brilliant Scottish astronomer didn’t move in the same scientific circles as Emily and if her famous father wasn’t his mentor. But when Emily looks likely to derail the event which will make Hamish’s career, he loses his temper with the pretty miss and his recklessness leaves her reputation in ruins. A marriage made in scandal… Emily has always thought her father’s spectacular protégé was far too arrogant for his own good. But what is she to do when the only way she can save her good name in society is to wed the unruly laird? Reluctantly she accepts Hamish’s proposal, but only on the condition that their union remains chaste. That shouldn’t be a problem; they’ve never been friends, let alone potential lovers – except that after they marry, Hamish reveals unexpected depths and a host of admirable qualities, and he’s so awfully handsome, and now the swaggering rogue admits that he desires her… From the ballrooms of London to the grandeur of the western Highlands, a battle royal rages between these two strong-willed combatants. Neither plans to yield an inch – but are these smart people smart enough to see that sometimes the greatest victory lies in mutual surrender?
Emily pulled her hand free, then was sorry she did. She liked the warm strength of Hamish's grasp. After months of feeling abominably alone, his touch soothed her loneliness.
"Have I shocked you?" The question was unsteady.
"You've made me lose what little respect I ever had for the Sassenach male. How does a pretty girl like you reach the advanced age of twenty-five without men fighting to kiss her?"
Heat flooded her cheeks. And other parts of her. She shifted on her chair. "You're flirting with me."
"I am indeed. But that doesn't stop me from being appalled."
She spread her hands. "You know what Papa's house was like. Everything was dedicated to science."
"I was dedicated to science. They didn't stop me from thinking about the naughty things I wanted to do to you."
"You never tried to kiss me."
"No, but I wish I had now. I certainly wanted to."
He had, hadn't he? Looking into his intent face, she could tell that he still did. How intriguing. "We were too busy fighting to kiss."
"Nobody is that busy. I suppose you terrified all those other clodpolls, because you're so clever and pretty. Even I found myself daunted – and very little daunts a gallant Scotsman."
Emily regarded him doubtfully. "You never seemed daunted."
"Inside I was shaking with dread."
She struggled not to smile. "You're such a fibber."
“And I suppose your father's colleagues are all past it – although I noticed that a couple of those old goats had an eye for you."
"A few of them chased me around the library."
He looked startled. And displeased. "Did they, by God?"
"I only worked for Lord Pascoe once. It turned out he wanted more from me than verification of his arithmetic."
"Frightful old duffer. He never caught you?"
"No, only you did that."
"I did, didn't I?" Hamish looked thoughtful. "It's my duty as a man of honor to give you a first kiss to remember."
"Are you going to kiss me now?" Despite her best efforts, her voice shook as she rose. He suddenly seemed awfully tall and…male.
"Yes, I am," he said with a solemn expression, although the glint in his eye told her that even now, he teased her.
Emily snatched at his hand. She needed something to keep her upright. Her knees felt like blancmange.
She'd known that kissing would be involved when she approached Hamish about making their marriage work. Good heavens, more than kissing. This craven reaction to the prospect of a kiss hinted that she'd be catatonic with nerves when it came to the marital act.
On the way north, she'd looked forward to learning what made people go silly when two pairs of lips met. But when she imagined kissing Hamish, she'd forgotten how big and powerful he was. While she wasn't a tiny woman, compared to him she felt like a mere speck.
"The setting leaves something to be desired." He glanced around the parlor. "You're lucky you married an astronomer, my girl."
"I am?" she said faintly. "Because you'll make me see stars?"
He responded with a soft laugh. She liked his laugh. She liked the way the low rumble of amusement resonated in her bones. "I do hope so. Although I meant something else. An astronomer keeps a close watch on the phases of the moon. As luck would have it, there's a moon out tonight and the evening has set fair. That's not always the case in this beautiful country of mine."
"You're taking me outside." She wasn't sure whether she was relieved or disappointed at her reprieve. Once she mentioned kissing, she'd expected him to jump on her.
"Doesn't every maiden dream of a kiss in the moonlight?"
She swallowed to ease a dry throat. "I dream of discovering a new planet like Herschel did."
The burgeoning delight in his smile puzzled her. "Emily, you're the most marvelous girl in creation, and I'm so happy we got caught in flagrante in Greenwich."
"Hardly in flagrante—" She stopped and regarded him in amazement. "What did you say?"
Hamish lifted her hand and placed a fervent kiss on her palm. Heat rippled along her arm and set her heart beating even faster. Since Hamish said he meant to kiss her, it had been galloping fit to win the Derby.
"I'm deuced glad that you didn't marry one of those milksops who hung on your father's every word. I'm even gladder that you didn't settle for a doddering old codger like Pascoe. I'm so happy you decided to marry me instead."
Good heavens, she didn't know what she was. She'd never imagined Hamish saying such things. When he'd proposed, his manner had conveyed a grim determination to do the right thing, no matter what it cost him. Or her.
His smile filled with the sweetness she so rarely saw. Which was a good thing for her health. That smile did wicked things to her heart, made it bounce and bound about.
His other hand rose to touch her lips. "You are lovely."
The sensation of his lips on her hand had made her feel most unlike herself. The touch of his fingers on her lips turned out to be equally devastating. And when all that was combined with what sounded like a heartfelt compliment, her head reeled.
Goodness, he hadn't even kissed her on the mouth yet. Already she was completely doolally.
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