RELEASING MARCH 21!
Highland warlord Gabriel Campbell plans to wed Grace MacNab, but is stunned to learn the banns have been challenged on the grounds Grace is a lady by birth. They cannot marry under the king’s law without permission.
The man Grace fears most has come to Caisteal Sith to force her into marriage. And there are others eager to offer for her in exchange for access to the charter the king’s regent has given her, but she’s in love with Gabriel. Though she doubts the depth of Gabriel’s feelings, she’s convinced he’s still the best man to lead her clan and fulfill her heart’s desire.
Can the two stand together to fight tradition and win? Or will their chance at happiness be forever out of reach?
Read An Excerpt:
Gabriel tightened his hold on her and breathed in the clean scent of the soap she used. “On our ride back, my thoughts were of you, Grace. I have never had anyone of my own waiting for me. Ye kept me on my horse when I didna feel I could continue on another step.”
Grace’s fingers combed through the long hair at the base of his neck, and then she drew back, her gray gaze shadowed by uncertainty.
Gabriel pressed a brief, tender kiss to her lips and rested his check against hers. “Lord Alexander has told me of Lord Ramsay’s intent t’ offer for yer hand.” He leaned back to look into her face.
She grasped his hand and held it between both of hers. “He has yet t’ speak of it t’ me, though he stated as much t’ Lord Alexander. ’Tis my hope t’ avoid any moment alone with him that might provide him with time to do so.”
“Why did ye not tell me of yer birth, Grace?”
“In every household I have been a part of, I have been more servant than lady. With no family, no connections, I chose the path I wanted, Gabriel. The one that leads to my happiness. Lord Alexander understood and accepted that.”
Gabriel’s throat thickened with emotion. “I canna give you riches or visits to court.”
“Can you hold me in your arms with true affection, Gabriel?”
He cupped her cheek in his large hand. “Aye, I can. I do. And more, Grace.”
Her cheeks colored. “Then you have already given me more than Lord Ramsay is able to do. ’Twas he who threw me out onto the streets of Edinburgh to die. ’Twas his wife who did the deed, but ’twas at his behest. What do you think he would do to me, should I be forced into such a union?”
“No one will force you to wed him, Grace.”
“If he has petitioned the king, and the king agrees, I will have no choice, Gabriel.”
The fear he read in her face triggered a rush of protective possessiveness. “I winna allow it. You belong t’ me, Grace.”
“We both ken ye canna, nay, winna defy your king. You would have no more choice than I.” She reached for his hands and gripped them. “Lord Alexander has set into place the means t’ free me from this. But I must pretend, when the time comes, t’ give Lord Ramsay’s offer as much thought as I have yours. I dinna wish to. To be in the room with him gives my stomach an ugly turn.” She shuddered.
He would not lose her. He had been foolish not to proclaim his love for her. But to do so now would make the declaration seem less than sincere.
To imagine her in another man’s arms triggered such pain and rage he wanted to pound the man to dust. And to know that she might be in danger, and he could not protect her…
“Derrick said Lord Alexander has posted guards throughout the family wing. If he is showing such caution, he must believe there is some threat. You must take great care, Grace. Dinna give Ramsay or any of his men quarter.”
“I will not. But you must do the same. His chambers are just down the passageway from here. Derrick will stay here until you are stronger. And there will be guards posted outside.”
He silently cursed his weakened state.
“Let me see your arm. I will tend it, and then I must go.” She rose to retrieve the small earthenware pot of water laced with herbs and vinegar Derrick had used on the wound earlier. It had burned like a hot coal, but the wound felt better afterward. She gathered fresh bandages from a small table.
He extended the limb and watched while she gently unwrapped it. The dressing came away easily. The discharge was clearer, and the wound less inflamed, but he would still have to pamper the limb until it healed completely. The scar it left behind would be a reminder of the moment he was injured, and of this one. He leaned back against the pillows to rest, and cursed the fever, for it drained his strength when he needed it most.
“Derrick said you stood again’ him when he wanted to take my arm.”
“I knew you would never forgive us, should we maim you so terribly.” Her throat worked as she swallowed. “I pray I am never forced to make such a decision again.”
He tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear with a fingertip. “I will do my best, a ghràidh.”
She glanced up from the task of wetting a cloth in the briny water. Gabriel steeled himself against the sting when she laid the rag over the injury before quickly cleaning and bandaging it.
Her gray gaze, darkened by the candlelight, focused on his face. “Dinna promise somethin’ ye canna give, Gabriel.”
“Do you think me incapable of such feelings, then?”
“Nay. But with all that has happened… I would ask you t’ be certain of what you want. You are an honorable man. Lord Ramsay is not and will not behave as one. You may find what you feel for me is not worth such a struggle. Not worthy of such a sacrifice.”
It was his own fault she doubted his affection for her. A hollow ache built in the pit of his stomach at the pain he read beneath her careful composure. “Grace…” He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss away her doubts, but the stiffness of her demeanor prevented him from doing so. “I’ve wanted very badly t’ take you to me. To lay claim to every part of you, and show you how much you are wanted, needed. I have wanted to carry you from the castle to my wee hut… and see you there sharing not just my bed, but all that I have, holding a wee babe we have made together t’ your breast. Those are na the visions of a man who doesna hold you in the highest affection.”
Tears glimmered in her eyes. “If we could remain here and share those things, ’twould be my fondest wish, but Lord Alexander said I canna refuse the gift, for it would be an insult to the king. And because the crown has acknowledged my noble birth…we may only wed through special permission from the crown.
“I have refused to sign the charter. ’Twill grant us some time for now, but should Lord Ramsay press the matter, I will be forced t’ sign it. And with my name upon it, the regent will have the power t’ choose my husband. And Lord Ramsay, though he has not broached the subject with me, has made his wishes known t’ Lord Alexander. He wishes to wed me to gain the MacNab holdings.”
How was he to fight this enemy who could win the battle because of his heritage? He had fought beside his king and asked for nothing, but he would now. And what if he still could not win?
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About Teresa Reasor
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Teresa Reasor was born in Southeastern Kentucky, but grew up a Marine Corps brat. The love of reading instilled in her in Kindergarten at Parris Island, South Carolina made books her friends during the many transfers her father's military career entailed.
After twenty-one years as an Art Teacher and ten years as a part time College Instructor, she’s now retired and living her dream as a full time Writer.
Her body of work includes both full-length novels and shorter pieces in many different genres, Military Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Children’s Books.
To find out more about her and her books visit:
Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1j6OYPg