Hi Everyone! I wanted to let you know about the fantastic sales on two of my books, as well as HIGHLAND PROMISE being FREE for a limited time! Also, to wish you a (belated) Happy Valentine’s Day!!
But first I must confess…
I'm not actually a big fan of Valentine’s Day—at least not in its artificially manufactured Hallmark card, expensive jewelry, and boxed chocolate kind of way (although any reason for giving me chocolate is a good reason…Mmmm chocolate).
When I think about Valentine’s Day, I rarely think of romance anymore. To me, it's too tied up in the holiday's expectation of a gift or a card. But love doesn’t have to be wrapped in a pretty, red bow to make it special—it can be a few brief, loving words scribbled on a scrap of paper and placed on your keyboard when you're sleeping, or a tight hug when deadline stress is rising, or taking the kids for the afternoon when you really need to be working.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't be thinking about our loved ones and doing something thoughtful for them—we should—maybe not just because it's Valetine's Day and we have to. I don’t want only one day of love, I want all the days.
So, I've never been a huge fan... until I had my kids.
My little monsters (twins) are in grade two this year and they LOVE Valentine’s Day. They get to send cards to all their classmates—girls and boys—and they get to have a special party in their classroom with special Valentine’s Day-themed-treats, and they get to wear red, eat chocolate, and cut out imperfectly shaped hearts.
And come on…who doesn’t like cutting out hearts and eating chocolates? I know I do.
For my kids, the joy of Valentine’s Day is simply the act of giving and receiving love and affection. There’s no pressure to impress or expectations of gifts or feelings of inadequacy…it’s just love…and it’s a joy to behold.
Give. Receive. Love. Affection. Now those are sentiments I can get behind—even if it comes with heart-shaped packaging.
So let me say it again (for reals this time ❤️). HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
Since we’ve been talking about love, affection, and gift-giving, coming up is a favorite scene of mine from HIGHLAND BETRAYAL, book 3 in The Sons Of Gregor MacLeod. Be prepared for a little heat, a few laughs, and a heart-felt sigh at the end!
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Maggie braced her good arm against the stone mantel and tried to lower herself to her knees. About halfway there, her ribs pulled, and she had to let go of the mantel, crying out in pain as she tumbled to the floor.
“Maggie!” Callum yelled, jumping from the bed and racing to her side. He gently helped her into a sitting position. “For the love of Christ, lass. What are you doing?”
“I would think that was obvious, Callum MacLean.”
“You’re lying on the floor, writhing in pain, when you should be in bed, sleeping. How is there anything obvious about that, Maggie MacLean?”
“My daggers,” she said, indicating the four knives scattered on the floor around her. “I was hiding some of them to be safe, but you used up all my spots. So I was checking to see if you’d hidden any in the hearth or under the chair. Men never think to look down low, but if someone has you trapped under them, you willna be able to reach the mantel.”
Callum stared at her, a twitch in his right eyelid and a muscle jumping in his jaw. Apparently, he agreed with the necessity of hiding weapons down low.
He gathered her in his arms, mouth tight as if he was stopping himself from saying something. After carefully lifting her, he walked to the bed and laid her down. Maggie almost groaned in relief, but she didn’t want him to know how much she’d needed his help.
Aye, she was a daft woman.
He sat beside her and clasped her uninjured hand. “Maggie, you doona need to worry about hiding daggers because I’ll—”
“And escape routes,” she interrupted.
“Escape routes. I was going to look for them next.” She held her breath and found she was actually enjoying herself, despite the ache in her ribs and hand. She wondered how long Callum could keep calm, and what she could say next to make his eyelid twitch.
He blew out a loud breath and then said something she could barely hear, cursing most likely.
“I willna convince you to let me protect you, will I?”
“Callum, why would I do that? Aren’t you happy to know that I have the ability to protect you? And someday possibly our bairns? I know I froze at the hot springs, but you said you could work on that with me. And if you do, I promise to work on your aim with you.” She kept her face innocent, knowing he’d catch on to what she’d said, to the two different ways her words could be interpreted.
His gaze jumped to hers, so quick and alert. It made her want to sigh and invite him between her legs, to start practicing right then despite her pain.
He leaned forward and bit her neck in retaliation, then trailed his lips upward to suck her earlobe into his mouth and nip it too. “Aye, we’ll be working on my aim, Maggie. We’d start now if not for your injuries. You’ve already done enough damage to yourself this morning.”
She lifted her good arm to pull him closer, but he clasped her hand and drew it to his mouth for a kiss before rising from the bed and retrieving her daggers. “So you want one hid in the hearth and one under the chair?”
And there she went again, wanting to cry. Because he’d put his own feelings aside and supported hers.
She nodded, unable to get words past her tight throat. Then she forgot about anything else but her husband in front of her as he leaned down on his hands and knees, head in the fireplace, and pointed his barely covered arse toward her.
Her eyes widened, especially when his shift rose up and she saw those heavy stones of his hanging down. An excited gasp escaped her lips.
“Quit staring at my arse, Maggie,” he grumbled.
“Then quit waving it in my direction, you daft man.”
He grunted but continued to work in the fireplace, and she continued to stare, wanting so badly to rise from her sickbed and cup those twin, muscular globes. Then slide her hand down and squeeze the other twin globes between them.
The idea filled her with yearning, her blood drumming in her veins, the softest parts of her swelling as heat and wetness gathered between her legs. She raised her hand to her mouth and bit down on her thumb so she wouldn’t moan aloud. It was most unfair that she was finally married to Callum and she could do nothing to slake her need for him.
Well, she could do that. Her hand slid down her body of its own accord, then stopped when he suddenly backed out of the hearth, minus one dagger, and sat back on his heels. “It’s near the front on the left side. Are you sure you want it inside the hearth? If the fire is burning, the metal will heat and burn your hand when you grab it.”
“I’d rather my hand be burned than be dead. Or you dead.”
He scowled, then grabbed one of the intricately designed chairs and flipped it upside down. After a second, he jammed her second dagger into the wood so it lay flush against the seat.
“Use this one instead, if anything happens—not that it bloody well will. Still, I’ll bring the mason in tomorrow and have him craft some hiding spots on the hearth down below. ’Tis a good idea. I should have thought of it.”
“See?” she said, a smile splitting her face.
He grunted, then scanned the chamber as if taking an inventory of all the hidden weapons and hiding places in the room. “Anything else?” he asked, his back to her.
“Aye, a rope. Long and sturdy enough to climb out the window. We’ll store it under the bed. In fact, have one made for every room above the second floor, just in case.”
His shoulders tensed, but he didn’t say no. “I’ll see what we have in storage. Anything else?” He glowered at her over his shoulder. “And it better not be a crossbow, rope, or pulley.”
She thought about all the things she’d wanted over the years. It was exciting to think that she could just ask for something and it would appear. At Clan MacDonnell, she’d had to keep everything a secret for so long. “I’ve always wanted a net. A big, sturdy one.”
He spun around, a look of incredulity on his face. “Maggie MacLean, you’ve lost your bloody mind. What in heaven would you do with a net?”
“I doona know exactly, but I’m sure I could drop it on someone. Or maybe jump into it if I had need.” He looked like he was going to refuse her, and she said, “’Tis customary to give your wife a gift when you marry, is it not?”
He threw his hands in the air. “And that’s what you want? Not jewels or fine clothes or even land? You want a big net?”
He looked heavenward and muttered under his breath before shaking his head and reaching for his plaid. “You shall have your net, Maggie MacLean. My wedding gift to you. And it will be the biggest bloody net you’ve e’er seen.”
Laird Gavin MacKinnon is a changed man—and not for the better. Ever since his young son, Ewan, disappeared two years ago, Gavin has grown callous and bitter. Scouring the countryside, his search leads him to a mysterious woman who maintains the boy is hers. He decides to take them both and ask questions later.
Deirdre MacIntyre will go with the brooding laird if it will keep her son safe. Gavin has to admit that the beautiful lass has a bond with Ewan, and things aren't adding up. When Deirdre's clan comes to claim her under threat of war, Gavin has a choice to make: fight for her or let her go.
I'm, thrilled to say that HIGHLAND CAPTIVE, featuring Gavin & Deirdre (and Kerr & Isobel!), has received fantastic reviews, including a STARRED Review from Kirkus.
If you haven't read the third book in the series, yet, enter here!!
Alyson McLayne is a mom of twins and an award-winning writer of contemporary, historical, and paranormal romance. She’s also a dog lover and cat servant with a serious stash of dark chocolate. After getting her degree in theater at the University of Alberta, she promptly moved to the West Coast of Canada where she worked in film for several years and met her Prop Master husband.
She and her family reside in Vancouver with their sweet but troublesome chocolate lab puppy-at-heart named Jasper.