Book Title: Highland Hope (The Wild Thistle Trilogy)
Author: Madelyn Hill
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: August 31, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
She is beautiful, strong, and quick to pull a sword. But when he kisses her, all thoughts of the lairdship Aidan MacKerry seeks flee his mind. When the enemy continues to undermine Hope, Aidan is determined to aid her—only he didn’t think he’d lose his heart to the Laird of Wild Thistle Keep. When the enemy reveals Aidan’s secret, he must fight for his right to be laird and prove, despite their differences, he loves Hope.
The enemy refuses to back down and continues to threaten not only Hope, but the security of the entire clan. Only together will they be able to save the clan and save their love.
“You have need of me?” He wasn’t willing to stop watching her, but he wanted to break his fast to ease the rumblings of his stomach.
“Lady Catriona passed away just a few days ago.” As she straightened her spine and met his gaze. There was tension around her eyes, pain. Och, she was grieving. Nay, he’d not soften because the woman lost her mother. “My mother had been my main supporter in leading the clan and I’ve need of help since she is gone.”
Her voice mingled with the dripping water and the sound of his own breath. Aye, there was pain beneath her commanding tone. She took a step back, as if she were trying to remain in control of the situation. He waited for her to continue, interested in her ideas, although the visitor of the night before had given him warning.
Her shoulders straightened. “My father decreed I was to marry at a certain age or not rule. It appears I’m in need of a husband, and he will be you.”
All air left him and his head was awash in ire. He’d been warned, but hearing the words, arrogant and without emotion, forced him into memories Aidan longed to hold at bay.
Woman seeking power, like his mother and his betrothed. Ordering men about as if they were commanders, demanding their will be done.
If she were a man ordering him about, he’d surely have attacked her through the bars.
“You’ll have no control, to be sure,” she continued as she stepped forward and gave a flippant swat of her hand. “I’ve led the clan well and will keep doing so. You’ll be there to soothe the council.”
Soothe the council? Surely, she understood they meant to undermine her? Did everyone think he was a fool? Had no cods?
“No control?” He growled. Fury filled him. “A willing servant? Is that what you want?” he demanded roughly.
Anger knitted her brow as her hands fisted at her waist. “You don’t have much of a choice, do you? Either you rot here in the dungeon, or you agree to my plan.”
Aidan wrapped his fingers around the iron bars, in his mind, they were wrapping around Laird MacAlister’s neck. Maybe it was his normally easygoing nature which led others to believe him weak and caused them to strike against his very manhood. But this woman had gone too far. “I’ve done nothing wrong. You’ve no right to imprison me.”
“Aye,” she conceded with the tip of her head. “But I could take my time releasing you.”
He chuckled humorlessly. Aidan then reached through the bars with his other hand and lifted her chin with the tips of his fingers. “And what of the marriage bed?” he rasped.
She held his gaze as her jaw tightened and flashes of anger flared in her green eyes.
“Am I allowed to share your bed?”
She tore from his hold, then scoffed.
She pointedly ignored the way he wrangled the iron bar as if he could tear them from their moorings. “Nay, we’ll not be husband and wife in the traditional sense. My father may have decreed I wed, but I’ll not sell myself in the process.”
He grunted. “You are daft.” He’d lowered his voice, trying to keep his rage from ebbing out of control. Not husband and wife in the traditional sense. Did she realize there’d have to be heirs? More of the MacAlister line to sit in the laird’s chair? Her plan was poorly created and in the end she’d be hard pressed to keep an even keel along such a plan as they wed and began to rule together. Regardless of what she’s said, he’d not sit by and do nothing as she ruled.
“Laird MacAlister?” a voice called out, one Aidan recognized, one he knew would be coming.
“Aye,” she said with a hint of annoyance as she turned toward the voice.
“’Tis no place for ye, Laird. Let me speak with the prisoner and bring him his food.”
Aidan watched as her spine snapped straight and she visibly bristled at the suggestion. She cocked her head at the voice. “I’ve the right, for now. I’ll keep interrogating the prisoner until I’m satisfied with his answers.”
“As ye wish, m’lady.”
Blast it, the voice had stayed afar and Aidan had never seen his face. Of course he knew it was intentional, a reminder and warning in itself. But he was vexed, nonetheless. Laird MacAlister turn to him, and he nearly laughed at the outrage on her face. It must surely mimic his own. He admired her spirit. And her bravado. She’d asked a stranger to marry. He knew, it had cost her. Mayhap this was the answer . . . her cost would become his fortune.
Mayhap he would agree—for now. Then he’d tip the circumstances to his advantage. Aye. He’d gain her trust, all the while moving his goal forward. For he’d be Laird of Wild Thistle.
As I pledged.
With an arrogant tilt of her chin and a challenge set in her gaze, she said, “What say you, MacKerry? Have we an agreement?”
Her eyes widened, then she shrugged.
There had to be a reason. The clan was filled with men. The laird hadn’t decided to wed until the moment she saw him? Not very likely, she seemed too intelligent for that.
She remained silent for a moment. “The men of the clan see me as laird. Not as a woman.”
He smirked. A beautiful woman like her, not bloody likely. They saw the woman she was along with the laird she was. The combination mayhap too much for most men—a strong, independent woman. “They are afraid of you.”
A flash of irritation lit her green eyes. “Mayhap. Or they do not like me besting them in the practice yard.”
He tipped his head back and laughed. “Aye,” he said as he took note of her complete surprise. “I’ll marry you.” Aidan would keep her thinking he was compliant.
And then, we’ll see how long it is before I’m in charge and in the marriage bed.
A resident of Western New York, she moved from one Rochester to another Rochester to be with the love of her life. They now have 3 children and keep busy cooking, watching their children's sporting events, and of course reading!