· Illegitimate daughter of an English earl
· Abducted to Scotland at age 14
· No family, no reputation...
· No rules
· Heir to an honorable Highland laird
· Can’t believe how well tomboy Kate can fight
· About to learn how much of a woman she really is
Scotland is seething with plots, the vengeful Gordons are spoiling for a fight, and the neighboring clans are at each other’s throats. All it takes is a passionate hellion with a penchant for reckless adventure to ignite the Highlands once more.
Katherine made sure the straps of her saddle were tight. She took a great deal of pleasure in the fact that she knew as much about preparing a horse for riding as every one of the men surrounding her. That would certainly not be the case if she’d been raised in England.
Her old life was only a memory now, hidden behind her adventures in the Highlands. She smiled as she recalled the many things she’d done at Robert’s side while disguised as a boy. She gripped the side of the saddle, making ready to mount.
But a hard hand dug into the back of her jerkin and lifted her into the air.
“What?” Katherine was startled, or she wouldn’t have spoken because her English accent persisted. More than one head turned in her direction as she landed and found herself looking up into the eyes of Marcus MacPherson, war chief of Clan MacPherson.
“I told her she should nae go.” Robert was quick to assign blame to her.
Marcus had braced himself between her and the horse. The war chief was huge and stood considering her from a position she’d seen too many times to count while she trained under his command in the yard. Of course, he thought she was a boy, which made Robert’s choice of words very bad.
Very, very bad.
“You clearly did nae tell her firmly enough.” Marcus shifted his full attention to Robert. “There will be a reckoning owed when we return, sure enough.”
Robert bristled as more men came to witness his chastisement. “She’s the one who will no’ listen to good sense.”
“Agreed,” Marcus said. “Which is why ye should have pulled her off her horse as I just did, since it was you who brought her into me training yard six years ago.”
Katherine gasped. She hated the way the sound came across her lips because it was so…well, so feminine. The men were frowning at her, clearly disapproving.
She shook her head and leveled her chin. “I have trained, and I am as good as many a man standing here.”
“Ye are a woman,” Marcus stated clearly. “And ye do nae belong riding out with us when we are going to needle the Gordons.”
“It isn’t a real raid,” Katherine protested, but she kept her tone civil. She would always respect Marcus for teaching her to defend herself. “Just a bit of fun.”
“Aye,” Marcus agreed. “And yet, not as simple as that. Men get their blood up when they are testing one another’s nerve. It is no place for a woman, even less so for a maiden.”
“Ye see?” Robert said. “I told ye.”
“But ye did nae make certain she could nae venture into danger. That’s the difference between a lad and a man.” Marcus spoke softly, which only gave his words more weight. “It’s past time for ye”—he pointed at Robert—“to recognize that a little lass like Katherine has more to lose if our luck does nae hold. As a MacPherson retainer, I expect ye to make sure the women are taken care of. That’s the real reason they respect us, no’ simply for the sake of our gender.”
Marcus shifted his attention back to Katherine, and she felt the weight of his disapproval. “Ye could be raped and ruined.”
“My reputation is already ruined because I am here,” Katherine protested.
“That is no’ the same thing at all,” Marcus informed her in a steely voice. “And I hope to Christ ye never discover the truth of the matter. For tonight, ye’ll take yerself back inside, and I will deal with ye when I return.”
Marcus’s word was law on MacPherson land. Only his father and his brother, Bhaic, might argue with him, and Katherine wasn’t dense enough to think either of them would disagree. So she lowered her chin and bit her lip. It earned her a soft grunt from Marcus before he moved back toward his horse.
Then the muttering started.
“More trouble than we need…”
“Damned English always think themselves better than Scots…”
Men she’d thought of as friends suddenly turned traitor, calling her “English” as though she had only recently arrived on their land.
She’d truly thought her feelings dead when it came to the subject of her blood. The rush of hurt flooding her proved her wrong.
About the Author
Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.