New Release | The Reiver’s Cub by Award-Winning Author @LauraSt05038951 #scottish #historicalromance
Title: The Reiver’s Cub
Author: Laura Strickland
Genre: Scottish Historical Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Ten years ago, Bess Mowatt promised to guard her newborn cousin from his father, Aleck Maxwell. Called the Reiver Wolf, Maxwell is the scourge of the Scottish marches, and no fit guardian for a child. But when the keep where Bess and the boy live suddenly comes under Maxwell's protection, she has nowhere to hide.
Aleck doesn't quite believe the tale he was told, that his son died at birth. His head tells him one thing, and his heart another. While protecting the keep from marauders, he makes a connection with Bess's young charge. But Bess stands in the way, a woman who is also a warrior, a protector who needs his protection. Can he persuade this fiery woman to accept his help? Will a lie told long ago stand in the way of their love?
“Dexter,” Bess said sharply, her voice so choked with apprehension, it didn’t sound like her own. Her worst nightmare come to life, this. She had looked after this lad—guarded him with her every thought and action—from the moment he’d entered this world. She’d made sacrifices, aye. No family of her own, no real life to speak of, other than here at Kellsbrough Keep. But she loved this lad, and would not trade time spent with him for any number of riches.
Now, the Reiver Wolf stood there, danger in every particle of him, looking as if he wanted to eat her boy up. She reminded herself Alexander Maxwell had no reason to suppose his son was alive, much less residing here. By all that was holy, he had no cause to believe other than that his son had died at birth, as Mary Johnstone told him.
The greater part of the danger lay in her mind.
“Dexter,” she repeated, and the lad looked at her. “Please go fetch William to me.”
Dexter ran off, shooting one doubtful look back at the Reiver Wolf, and Bess strove mightily to disguise her relief.
“No need to chase the lad awa’,” Maxwell said. “I will no’ challenge him.”
Did he look amused? Difficult to tell. He disguised his emotions far better than she suspected she managed to do, but Bess caught a flash of light in his odd, tawny eyes. He had a well-carved, canny face, handsome as that of the Devil, she had to allow. Strong cheekbones and an angular jaw, fierce dark brows, a proud nose, and a scruff of beard covering his cheeks.
The sort to seduce a woman, he was, and treacherous with it. Though he’d not seduced poor Mary, but raped her.
Still, a good thing Dexter had not inherited those eyes. There would be no hiding him then.
“It is my duty to keep these lads safe,” she told Maxwell, “no matter the peril.”
“You think me the sort o’ man to threaten a litter of young lads?” he returned evenly. He had a deep voice that flowed like music, but threatening as a honed dirk.
“Oh, aye. I think—know—you capable of all sorts.”
Rather than take offense, he stared after Dexter, and asked the question that frightened her most of all. “Who is he?”
“Dexter Mowatt.” She had to swallow the fear and unclench her fists before she went on, “The son of my cousin. Him being my blood, I feel protective.”
“No need. Whatever you believe o’ me, I do no’ harm children. But I will need to know the identities of their families.”
“Because I am now as responsible as ye are, for their safety.” He gave her a grim smile.
“I would prefer their identities remain with Callum and me.”
“Why?” he asked in turn.
“Because some, like Dexter, come from the English side of the border, and are the sons of your enemies. This, Master Maxwell, is a curious place, one like no other. The lads train here together. They may even form friendships. Later, they will return to their respective homes along the marches and perhaps, one day, be called upon to slit one another’s throats.”
“Using the skills you and MacFee teach them.”
His bright gaze searched her face. “Does that no’ trouble you, mistress, given your profound sense o’ protectiveness?”
“At times, it does. But I like to think we turn out lads with a sense of moral responsibility, as well as skill at arms.”
He laughed, a booming sound that brought heat to her cheeks and turned heads in the forecourt. “Would you teach honor to the sons of reivers?”
“Why not?” She tossed her head. “Someone has to.”
“Do you no’ suppose, mistress, such a sense might prove inconvenient to the men they shall become?”
“I do not, and neither should you. Would you not have me accept it is your honor has brought you here to help defend us?”
“And you should be glad of it.”
Bess did not feel glad. She would much rather take her chances against the dreaded Thomsons than allow this wolf within the gate.
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