Handsome and dangerous, Patrick MacGregor is a wanted man, possessing the tough, tenacious spirit of his outlawed clan. He will stop at nothing to save his people from destruction, even if it means marrying Elizabeth Campbell, the daughter of his worst enemy. Yet the flaxen-haired beauty disarms him from the start. Her sweet, unspoiled softness touches the cold depths of his ravaged soul-and makes him want much more than revenge.
Inside the shy and dutiful Lizzie is a passionate woman longing to emerge, a woman ready for love. So when the piercing emerald eyes and searing kiss of a stranger spark in her a desperate hunger, she surrenders to Patrick's glorious seduction-unaware that his daring deception has just found its one and only chance for redemption: a love more powerful than hate.
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February 23, 2009
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Excerpt from Highland Outlaw by Monica McCarty
Chapter 1 O Castle Gloom! thy dark defile Throngs not with Scottish story; On other towers, O proud Argyle Sits crowned thine ancient glory. But little have we of the past, As up the dell we ramble, To figure, floating on the blast, Thy banners, Castle Campbell! “Castle Campbell,” by William Gibson Near Castle Campbell, Clackmannanshire, June 1608 Elizabeth Campbell lowered the creased piece of parchment into her lap and looked out the small window, watching the hulking shadow of Castle Campbell fade into the distance with a heavy heart. No matter how many times she read the letter, it did not change the words. Her time, it seemed, was up. The carriage bounced along the uneven road, moving at a painstakingly slow pace. Recent rain had made the already rough road to the Highlands treacherous, but if they continued like this, it would take a week to reach Dunoon Castle. Lizzie glanced across the carriage and caught the furtive gaze of her maidservant, Alys, but the other woman quickly shifted her eyes back to her embroidery, feigning a concentration belied by the ill-formed stitches. Alys was worried about her, though trying not to show it. Hoping to divert her questions, Lizzie said, “I don’t know how you can sew with all this bumping—” But her words were cut off when, as if to make her point, her bottom rose off the seat for a long beat and then came down with a hard slam that rattled her teeth, as her shoulder careened into the wood-paneled wall of the carriage. “Ouch,” she moaned, rubbing her arm once she was able to right herself. She glanced at Alys, who’d suffered a similar fate. “Are you all right?” “Aye, my lady,” Alys replied, adjusting herself back on the velvet cushion. “Well enough. But if the roads do not improve, we’ll be a heap of broken bones and bruises before we arrive.” Lizzie smiled. “I suspect it will get much worse. Taking the carriage at all was probably a mistake.” They would have to switch to horses when they passed Stirlingshire, crossed into the Highland divide, and the roads narrowed—or, she should say, became more narrow, as they were barely wide enough for a carriage even in this part of the Lowlands. “At least we’re dry,” Alys pointed out, always one to see the positive side of a situation. Perhaps that was why Lizzie enjoyed her company so much. They were much alike in that regard. Alys reached down and picked up the letter that had fallen to the ground with the tumult. “You dropped your missive.” Resisting the urge to snatch it back, Lizzie took it casually and tucked it safely in her skirts. “Thank you.” She could sense Alys’s curiosity about the earl’s letter, about what was taking them to Dunoon Castle so suddenly, but she wasn’t ready to alleviate it. Alys, like everyone else, would find out the contents soon enough. It would be no secret that her cousin the Earl of Argyll intended to find Lizzie a husband. Again. Apparently, three broken engagements weren’t enough. It was her duty to marry, and marry she must. Her chest squeezed as the humiliating memory of her most recent broken betrothal returned to her in an unwelcome flash. The pain, even with the passage of two years, was still acute. “Elizabeth Monntach,” they’d called her. And she so eager for compliments that she’d “lapped them right up like a grateful pup.” The humiliation still burned. Worse, John was right. She’d been far too eager, far too ready to believe that a handsome man like him could care for her for reasons beyond clan alliances and wealth. Her best frien