It's hardly the type of wedding Fiona MacLean dreamed of. No family, no guests, just a groom who's been dragged -- literally -- to the altar. But if marriage to Black Jack Kincaid, the handsome wastrel she'd sworn never to see again, will avert a bloody war between their clans, so be it. Surely she can share his bed without losing her heart....
Known throughout Scotland and London as a wild rogue, Jack is accustomed to waking in dire situations, but...married? Long ago, he and Fiona reveled in a youthful passion. Now, the fiery, sensual lass is his once more. And though their marriage is in name only, Jack is determined to win her forever -- body and soul....
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January 29, 2007
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Excerpt from How to Abduct a Highland Lord by Karen Hawkins
The MacLeans are an ancient family, long of grace and fair of face. 'Tis a pity they know their own worth, fer it makes 'em difficult to bargain with. Shrewd they are; 'tis rare they come out on the bottom side of any bargain. Yer own pa says he'd rather be bit by a sheep than dicker with a MacLean.
Old Woman Nora of Loch Lomond to her three wee granddaughters one cold night
Gretna Green, Scotland
April 9, 1807
Fiona MacLean forced herself to smile. "Father MacCanney, we've come to be married."
The heavyset priest looked uncertainly from Fiona to the groom and then back. "B-but -- he's not -- I canna -- "
"Yes you can, Father," Fiona said in her calmest voice, her hands fiercely fisted in the strings of her reticule.
Come hell or high water, she was about to end the longest, most drawn-out, and most foolish feud in all Scotland. And thereby lose her freedom, her carefully planned future, and perhaps even a bit of her heart.
The thought made her stomach sink lower. But this marriage was necessary if she wished to keep her brothers safe from their own foolish tempers. It's the only way. I cannot waver.
"Fiona, lass," Father MacCanney said in an exasperated voice, "he's not fit to be a groom!"
"All the more reason for me to marry the fool." At the priest's blink of surprise, she quickly added, "'Tis a known fact that a good woman can turn even the most contrary, rotten, stubborn ne'er-do-well into a responsible man."
The priest glanced uneasily at her prospective groom. "Aye, but -- "
"Have no fear for me, Father. I know he's no prize, but he's the one I want."
"Fiona, I know the lad might benefit from the match. 'Tis just -- "
"I know," she said, sighing bravely. "He's a philanderer who's been with every woman from the North Sea to the fleshpots of London."
The priest flushed at the mention of fleshpots. "Yes, yes. So everyone knows, but -- "
"He is also a complete wastrel who has made no effort to embrace a useful life. I know he's not the best choice of groom, but -- "
"He's not even conscious!" the priest burst out. "He canna even say his own name!"
Fiona glanced down to where her man, Hamish, had dropped her groom on the cold flagstone at her feet. Muddy rivulets dripped onto the church floor from Kincaid's clothing. "I was afraid that was your problem." Even unconscious, Jack was a royal pain. Some things never changed.
"Lassie, ye canna drag an unconscious man to the altar."
"Because -- because 'tis just not done, that's why!"
The priest eyed Hamish with suspicion. Fiona's massive guard stood silently behind her as he'd done since she was a child. A large sword hung at his side, three primed pistols were stuck into his wide leather belt, his bushy red beard bristled, and his fierce gaze pinned them all in place.
"How did the lad come to be unconscious and muddy?" Father MacCanney asked pointedly.
Fiona hated to lie. She really did. But the less the priest knew, the safer he'd be from retribution from her brothers. Torn in pain at the loss of their youngest brother, they raged through Castle MacLean, fists lifted to the sky, fury pouring from them.
The curse of the MacLeans had flowed then. Rain and thunder had flooded from the skies for days, threatening those who lived in the village below Castle MacLean. The river had already been swollen from early spring rains, and the danger of flooding was imminent.
Fiona could not let that happen. And she knew how to stop the feud. First, she'd had to find Jack Kincaid. Thank goodness Hamish had heard rumors of his dalliance with some woman in nearby Stirling; it was simple to find the wastrel then.
She could only hope that the rest of her plan would follow so easily. Somehow, she greatly doubted she'd be so blessed. She shrugged and said with as much cheerful indifference as she could muster, "We found him."
"In the road. His horse must have bolted."