Is it really Launch Party Time?
That might sound hookie—yes that’s a word, my grandfather
used it all the time. Well it might sound like a hookie question but for an
author it’s a very exciting day when the book releases. I’m just now beginning
the third book in this saga. It’s an interesting long rode to publication and a
whole lot of it is like driving down the state of California by yourself with
no music. Which means you end up talking to yourself, singing to yourself and
making random c comments to the cows, crows and hawks along the way.
Don’t ask me how I know that.
Well it is indeed time to let you all get a peek at my baby,
my creation. The Highlander’s Prize is my newest Highlander novel and it was
fun to write. Sometimes Highlanders are a challenge but this one was fun, in a
mystery game sort of way. The story took multiple twists and kept me on my toes
as I tried to steer it back around to the happy ever after ending I had in
mind. I know, that’s my job but like any job, it can have its moments when I’m
contemplating twisting it into a pretzel.
Oh, sorry, I got distracted there. But hey, pretzels are
yummy. I’ll have mine with salt and actually, pretzels do go with ‘party’, so
pretzels all the way around!
And since this is a party, I’m going to share an exclusive
excerpt with you folks and just maybe a one lucky person will win a copy of The
Cheers and pretzels…pass the mustard!
Visit me on FaceBook!
The Highlander’s Prize-
“We’ll nae rest long, just enough for the horses. Sleep
while ye can.”
He tugged her right into the thicket. She had to raise her
free arm to protect her face from being scratched. Once they reached a thick
tree trunk, he released her.
“Sit or I’ll tie ye again.”
Clarrisa sank to her knees, watching him as he pulled his
sword free. He raised his plaid and sat down, leaning back against the tree.
She gasped when he reached out and grabbed one of her braids.
“Closer, lass, yer hair is nae that long.” There was a
renewed hint of amusement in his tone. She ground her teeth with frustration,
but he didn’t grant her any mercy. He looped her braid around his wrist and
grasped the end inside his fist. A moment later he tucked his arm beneath the
length of his plaid, pulling her closer.
She ended up sitting next to him with only a tiny space
between them. Broen closed his eyes, granting her privacy even if it was an odd
sort. The man had a hold of her hair, for Christ’s sake, something that struck
her as intimate. Only little girls and brides wore their hair loose. She stared
at him for a long moment because she’d always imagined that when a man touched
her hair, he would be her husband. Or lover…
Clarrisa chided herself and ordered her imagination to be
silent. Circumstances were grim enough without her appearing drawn to her
captor. Still, for the moment she was free of his piercing stare. She leaned
back against the tree, longing for her cloak which lay forgotten in the tower
chamber. At least she could pull her knees closer to her chest, which allowed
her toes to take shelter beneath her skirts.
Her thoughts wanted to whirl, but exhaustion was nipping at
her . She closed her eyes, hugging herself for warmth. Her head was uncovered
and the chill of the night made her long for her hat. Silk ribbons were
threaded through her braids like a bride’s, and her dress was made of linen,
too lightweight for the Scottish night.
Still, she preferred the chill to the demands James would
have made. Many would call her foolish, but her body was the only thing she
had, her virtue her single possession. But she would not go so far as to say
she preferred Broen’s company. No, she would not. Yet, she was thankful her
wrists were no longer bound. Her sleep became restful, the knowledge that Broen
was near actually granting her a feeling of security. Better the devil you
She didn’t know Broen, but he’d freed her when it would have
been easier for him to leave her tied. Actions so often spoke more of a man’s
nature than what he proclaimed. Her uncle liked to tell her what her place was,
often imposing duties on her to reinforce his demands. His face faded away as
she turned her face toward the warmth of the man next to her.
For the moment, it was all she needed.
* * *
“I warned ye, Laird.”
Clarrisa jerked awake as the man she was leaning against
erupted into motion. She went rolling across the fallen leaves, gaining a few
scratches along the way.
“Ye’re mad to startle me, Shaw!” Broen snarled. He had his
sword unsheathed and in hand before he’d finished speaking, but Shaw reached
out and grabbed her by the nape of her neck. He dragged her to her feet and
threw her several yards.
“She was pressed to ye like a well satisfied whore.” Shaw
was shaking with rage. “No doubt she thinks to warm yer cock and secure herself
a Highland laird since we’ve ruined her plans to have the king.”
“I plan no such thing!”
“Be silent, Clarrisa.” Broen’s voice was deadly. It shocked
her into shutting her mouth when her pride still stung. The MacNicols laird
kept his sword steady, leveled at his clansman. Broen moved on sure feet,
keeping his knees bent as he changed position so he was standing in front of
her. “Ye’re shaming yer mother, Shaw MacNicols.”
“And ye’re disgracing yer murdered father by allowing this
scheming English jade to rest her head on yer shoulder.”
Clarrisa felt her face flame with a blush, for some time
during the night, she’d ended up leaning against Broen. “It wasn’t planned, the
man had hold of my braid.”
Broen snorted. “Do ye ever do what ye’re told, woman?”
A few of his men chuckled and even Shaw snorted with
enjoyment. Clarrisa felt her temper ignite.
“Oh yes, my lord.” She lowered herself prettily, exactly as
Maud would have approved of. “I obeyed my uncle who sent me to that cursed
tower where your king planned to use me.” She rose and glared at the men
watching her, but mostly at their laird. “Doing what I’m told has brought me to
this place, where there isn’t a trusting soul in sight, so I believe I am done
She was casting out a challenge but didn’t care. The man was
a barbarian; the least she might do was match her behavior to his. She stumbled
out of the thicket, not knowing where she was going, only sure she had to move
because there was so much emotion coursing through her.
She’d slept against him. The knowledge rose in her mind. Her
cheeks continued to flame as the night replayed in her mind like a
well-memorized fireside tale. She’d shifted and ended up against him at some
point. There was a fleeting recollection of her nose warming at last and deep
satisfaction as she huddled close to his body heat. She was going to burn in
hell. Or die of shame where she stood. Maybe expire from pure frustration.
But frustration began to burn her alive as she heard the
MacNicols retainers laughing. She fumed and turned to face them but whirled
back around when she caught sight of them roaring with amusement.
Highlanders. Only Highlanders would be entertained by