All men lusted for the firebrand they called Flaming Tina, famed for the molten fire in her hair--and for the hot temper running fierce through the noble Scots blood of Lady Valentina Kennedy. Forced into marriage with the fearsome warrior of an enemy clan, Tina vowed to use her wild beauty to gain mastery over Lord Ramsey Douglas.
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December 31, 1992
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Excerpt from Tempted by Virginia Henley
Chapter 1 ’Twixt Wigtown and the town of Ayr, Portpatrick and the Cruives o’ Cree, No man needs think for tae bide there Unless he court wi’ Kennedy! Valentina Kennedy, so named because she had been born on Saint Valentine’s day, was more often called Firebrand or Flaming Tina because of her glorious red-gold hair, all molten flames and fire. She brushed it back with a nervous gesture as she approached the tower room of Castle Doon. Her expressive golden eyes, usually so dreamy or sparkling with challenge, were now liquid with apprehension. She straightened her shoulders and pushed open the door with a bravado she did not feel. Simply stepping over the threshold was an act of courage, for ever since she was a child this room had been dubbed the torture chamber. She had always played roughhouse with her older brothers, sometimes showing more daring and recklessness than they did and she felt quite cocky when she heard the servants call her a plucky little lass. But her mettle had deserted her the day they dragged her up to the torture chamber and showed her the crude instruments one by one, describing in grisly detail how Butcher Bothwick cut out a tongue or plucked out an eyeball. They had gleefully pointed out the red-stained flagstones and reached for a jar of black leeches they said would suck out her blood. Valentina flushed remembering what she had done when she saw Butcher Bothwick, the hairy giant who wielded these instruments of torture. She had fainted. It was years later before she understood that Bothwick was the castle surgeon who staunched Kennedy wounds, lanced boils or pulled rotten teeth. A toothache was the reason for her being here today. She had never had a tooth pulled before, never even seen a tooth extracted from anyone else, but common sense told her there would be pain and there would be blood. “Come in, lass. I’ve been expectin’ ye,” said the big man in a thick Scots brogue, flexing his muscles with pride, eager to show his finesse. Tina was quite literally terrified, yet she had so much stiff Scots pride, she would rather die than allow this man to know her total fear of him. “I ha’ all in readiness,” he said, taking up a pair of torturous-looking pincers in hands whose size made her tremble, for she knew with a certainty that they were too large to be capable of gentleness. Tina seemed rooted to the spot, unable to move, until Bothwick encouraged her, “I’m no’ a monster, I’ll no’ hurt ye!” She took a deep breath to steady herself, and his promise made her fear recede a little. She shrugged one pretty shoulder and walked boldly forward. He towered above her, so close she could smell the whisky on his breath. His bare biceps bulged above hairy forearms, clearly displaying his strength, and she knew he could easily overpower her if she resisted. His fingers brushed her lips and he coaxed roughly, “Open for me, there’s a good lass.” An inborn instinct for self-preservation made her shrink from him, backing away slowly and imperceptibly, but with dismay she saw him advance upon her with determination. She broke away from him and retreated hastily, no longer able to bear his touch. The couch was now between them. “Lie doon here fer a minute, an’ it’ll be over an’ done wi’,” he urged, but every instinct told her she would then be completely at his mercy. Tina’s mind seethed with uncharitable thoughts of her family. Her young sister had cast her a look that told her plainly Beth was most thankful she was not the one to suffer such a dreadful fate. Her loutish brothers slapped their thighs, hilarious that for oncefat