ABOUT THE BOOK
Returning from France to his family’s manor in England, Samuel de Mowbray discovers that his two younger sisters have been stolen away to the Highlands by the Sutherland brothers. Determined to save his sisters from the hands of vicious warriors, he convinces the king to send him north on a mission. While there he discovers not only that his loyalties are beginning to waver, but that a head-strong, feisty lass could destroy everything he believes.
Catriona Buchanan needs to travel north to gain the help of her distant relations in saving her brother and ridding her castle of brutal English knights. Unfortunately, it appears the only way to escape their clutches is by trusting in the very thing she mistrusts the most—an Englishman. Minute by minute, the man who should be her enemy breaks down her defenses. There is something different about him and she can’t help but be captivated by Samuel, and his steamy kisses.
SIR Samuel de Mowbray had not signed on to this jaunt into the Highlands to watch his superior officer violate a young maiden.
The woman embodied beauty. She was nearly tall as a man, but he guessed he had a few inches on her. Dark, sleek hair was pulled tight in a plait down her back. Her skin was pale, made paler by her fear he surmised, but her amber colored eyes shot fire. She wasn’t timid—if anything she was spitting with rage. She had a good way of keeping it tightly leashed, which impressed him greatly.
It had been hard not to wince when Geoffrey slapped her. Samuel had two sisters of his own. Both of which had been stolen out from under his love-struck father’s nose and now resided here in the Highlands somewhere. He was bound and determined to find out exactly where they were, too. He’d rip off their husbands’ limbs and then carry his sisters back to the safety of England. When he’d arrived home after fighting the French to find that his father had gone off on something of a honeymoon with his sisters’ nursemaid and that his sisters had been married off to savage Scots—brothers no less!—he about died of shock.
Getting a position within Geoffrey’s unit had been a bit of a quandary, but his superior officer had finally allowed it when Samuel said he wanted to lay his blade into a Scot or two—and the king had been more than happy to send him into Scotland thinking he might be able to gain access to the Scottish rebellion leaders. Theoretically, joining Geoffrey’s ranks was a step down for Samuel since he’d been at the same level as the bastard when he returned from France.
“Leave her be, ye wicked Sassenach!” shouted the old goat Geoffrey intended to wed the chit to. “God will strike ye down for what ye’ve done, just ye wait and see. Run, Catriona, run!”
So Catriona was her name? Had a hint of magic to it, and seemed to match her fae-like beauty.
“Somebody shut that man up,” Geoffrey said with a roll of his eyes, though he did take a step back.
Relief flashed on her face, but was gone when she looked down to smooth her gown. Something in his chest tightened. The Scots were brutal bastards, worse so than his own people. Watching the woman—Catriona—be so abused by Geoffrey only pained him more in regards to his own sisters. Were they now being beaten by the barbarians who’d stolen them?
One of the knights holding the old man, bashed him on the head with the hilt of his sword knocking him from the present.
Samuel shook his head. Blazes, but he wanted to step in. They were not here to pillage, plunder and rape. They were here to take control of the castle as the king had ordered. The small holding was nothing really on its own, but the several surrounding clan holdings when combined controlled the crossing between the Highlands and Lowlands. Having control of a major part of the border would be beneficial in gaining access and more power in the north.
How could he go about bringing up that point with Geoffrey? The man would not like to be called out in front of his own unit. Would make him look bad. Would be bad for Samuel, too, considering the leering, hungry eyes of the men watching Catriona.
“Mowbray,” Geoffrey growled, startling him from his thoughts. “Take the lady to the library. Mayhap she’ll be more amenable to our plans without interruption from her kin.”
Samuel gave a curt nod, though he’d have to ask Catriona to show him the way. Unknowingly, Geoffrey had given him the perfect opportunity to speak with him without the prying eyes of his men. With hope, he’d be able to convince him to leave the chit alone. ’Haps appeal to his Godly side, mention what a sin it was to abuse the less fortunate and wouldn’t he want to be seen as a merciful leader? But Samuel had his doubts a line like that would sway this brutal man. He seemed to enjoy harming others, especially those who couldn’t or wouldn’t fight back. Men like that were never reasonable.
Stepping forward, Samuel sighed deeply and gently gripped Catriona above the elbow. He kept his touch light, not wanting to frighten her, but by taking hold he was also showing Geoffrey what he wanted to see—the man didn’t need to know just how slight his hold was.
“Show me to the library,” he demanded in a low voice.
Catriona glanced up at him, her fiery gaze connecting with his and sending a jolt through him. Was it possible to be struck by lightning figuratively? Because that was how he felt. And then he was immediately disgusted. He sneered at his moment of femininity, baring his teeth at the chit. He didn’t like that this woman could make him feel things he’d never felt before, and he didn’t even know her.
She didn’t move. But stared up at him, fear pooling in her eyes. Beneath his fingertips she wasn’t warm and she trembled. Geoffrey had scared the warmth from her blood. A fierce need to protect her tugged at his gut.
“The library. Now,” he bit out. For the love of Christ, he couldn’t turn her over to Geoffrey. With skin so smooth, she couldn’t be a day over eighteen summers, and was most likely a virgin, if she even knew the ways of men.
Her lips pressed together, crinkling at the corners as it looked like she would say something. Judging from what he’d seen it wasn’t going to be pleasant, which might only cause Geoffrey to take her to the library himself.
Samuel widened his eyes and gave a barely perceptible shake of his head. Catriona appeared to understand his slight warning and instead of speaking gave a single nod, then took several tentative steps toward a slim archway off the side of the great hall.
“Where exactly is the library?” he asked, not wanting to be surprised by a room full of Highlanders. They’d swept the castle, but Samuel hadn’t been on the team that had discovered the room.
“Just up the stairs,” she murmured, her voice strained.
As they passed through the archway and were out of earshot of the men, Samuel whispered, “Do as I say, and I’ll do my damndest to see he doesn’t hurt you.”