A Highland Captive, a Highland Chronicles Tale, is a romance adventure set in 1298, during the Scottish Wars of Independence, following the battle at Falkirk where the Scots lost to the English…
Cailean MacDubhgaill, a knight from a small western island fighting for the Scottish cause, joins the battle at Falkirk but is wounded when he takes a blow to the thigh by an axe. Sir Eoín de Moray, uncle to his late friend, the former guardian, Andrew, helps him escape the carnage and takes him into a nearby forest, but is killed whilst fighting off pursuers.
Once Cailean has recovered from his injuries with the help of the healer Eithne, he rushes to de Moray’s manor on the northern shores of Loch Ness to convey the news to de Moray’s daughter, Isobel, but he is too late. He finds the manor burnt down, its people displaced, and Isobel abducted. Determined to honour the knight who had saved his life, he tracks Isobel down.
Finding herself taken away from her home against her will, to be married off to an English lord in service to King Edward I, Isobel de Moray ponders her fate when a nighttime raid on the mercenary camp sees her freed – only to fall into the hands of a strong-minded knight. The stranger takes her to his keep on the remote island of Eorsa, to keep her safe.
But Isobel has other ideas…
The Scottish Wars of Independence provide a writer of historical romance with the perfect backdrop: political chaos, murder and mayhem. Add a fiercely independent hero, and a plucky heroine, plus not to forget Scotland’s gorgeous landscapes, and your eventful Scottish historical romance adventure can begin…
“Shhh, don’t speak.” The voice was deep, a drawl not from her northern shores yet unmistakably Scottish.
Who was he to tell her what to do? She wriggled and bit firmly into the hand.
“I said,” the man whispered into her ear, pulling her roughly against him, “not a sound! Or you’ll have the same treatment as your friend Brodie here.” The threat was clear. She had a choice. Taking a deep breath through flaring nostrils, she caught the man’s scent. Forest and earth, the mixture tantalising her senses. A man used to spending much time out of doors. And clearly a man used to being obeyed.
She nodded, hoping he understood the gesture in the faint light. The second shadow lifted her hand and, feeling for her wrist and fingers, swiftly cut through the rope. She gasped.
“I beg your pardon, my lady,” a second broad accent whispered. “I didn’t mean to nick you.”
“Don’t worry about that now, Duncan. You can attend to the lady’s scratches when we’re away.” He turned her face towards him with the tips of his calloused fingers, his warm breath on her chilled skin.
“Now I would be very quiet if I were you, my lady. If those men outside wake, you’ve missed your only chance of escape. Trust me.”
Isobel nodded again, his words echoing in her head.
When he removed his hand from her face, she took a deep breath. “Wait! There is another rope, here,” she whispered, grabbing for his arm and guiding it towards her waist. His hand warm on her chilled stomach, his fingers explored the area. She shivered, delighting in the unusual sensation, then pushed his hand firmly to the offending rope. With a swift cut, he released her and pulled her upright.
“Can you walk?”
“Yes.” She pushed his hands firmly off her middle. There was no need to get too familiar.
The man called Duncan prised open the flap with infinite care, peeking out. Isobel reached for his arm.
“Watch out for Malcolm,” she hissed. “He’s usually watching all night.”
Duncan nodded, then slid from the tent, his raised dirk glinting in the light from the fading embers. Then she crawled through the gap, anxiously looking for any sign of the despised mercenary. He was not amongst the snoring men huddled around the fire.
“He’s not there,” she whispered. Duncan disappeared around the tent. She turned her head to her other rescuer who had squeezed through the flap behind her. Staggering back, she caught her breath. His exceptional height forced her to tilt back her head. His arm shot around her waist again, steadying her. Not that her weak knees wanted to obey.
She had heard tales of tall Highland men, broad in shoulder, dark as a moonless night in a remote glen, and fierce in demeanour, and at this moment she believed them. His eyes gleamed black as jet against the flicker of the fading fire as his gaze met hers. Her hands itched to touch the equally black thickness of his short-cropped hair. This was not a courtier despite his chain mail. This man was as wild as those warriors of lore. The side of his mouth twitched and his hands grabbed her arms. She averted her eyes. Heat shot into her cheeks. Fortunately, he would not see it in the darkness.
What must he think of her!
He lowered his head and for a brief instant she thought he was going to kiss her, his cheek barely touching hers. Instead, he spoke.
“Our horses are half a mile that way.”
(c) Cathie Dunn 2018. All rights reserved.