In my humble opinion Lynsay Sands is a master storyteller. Her books are full of fun, interesting characters who make you fall in love with them, at the same time you’re laughing about their antics. Having been a huge fan of her Vampire series I was excited and leary to read her new historical romance. I shouldn’t have been. An English Bride in Scotland is one of the best Highlander Hero/English Bride books I’ve read. This book for me is up there with Julie Garwood’s The Bride. So I’m really excited to share a snippet from the book with you.
Ross drove Gilly to his knees with the last blow to his shield, and then lowered his sword and stepped back. This was obviously not a good time to practice warfare, he acknowledged with a grimace. He was likely to kill one of his men if he continued in this mood.
“Is everything all right?” Gilly asked, eyeing him warily as he lowered his shield and got to his feet.
“Aye,” Ross muttered, but shook his head when Gilly reluctantly raised his sword and shield again. “Enough for now.”
Gilly didn’t bother hiding his relief as he relaxed. When Ross turned and started to cross the bailey, Gilly fell into step beside him and commented, “Yer in a fou’ mood for someone newly married to the sweet young lass ye’ve just brought home.”
The words startled a wry laugh from Ross. “Sweet young lass? I thought her being English convinced ye she was Devil’s spawn,” he pointed out dryly and reminded him, “Ye were the one saying I should no’ marry her because she was the second daughter.”
“Aye, well I did no’ ken her then, did I?” Gilly said with a faint smile. “But by the second day o’ the journey home I kenned I was wrong about all that. She’s a good lass. Smart, and curious and…”
“Sweet?” Ross suggested dryly.
“Aye.” He nodded.
Ross sighed. It had not gone without his notice that his wee bride had quickly wrapped his tough as rocks, battle hardened warriors around her little finger during the journey home. Annabel had chattered away like a magpie for the majority of the journey, asking what this or that was, and telling this or that tale. Most of her stories, he’d noted, had to do with animals or women…to the point that he’d actually wondered at one point if her father had not kept her completely segregated from his soldiers and male villagers. Even her father did not feature in any of her stories. Nor had her mother. Though she’d mentioned her sister often enough. “Sister did this” and “sister did that.”
Ross shook his head as he recalled it, and how every tale had held his men enthralled. She had a way of telling a story that made even the most boring event seem an adventure and his men had sat astride their horses or around the fire, watching her with an incredulous fascination that would have made most think these men had never seen a female before.
But he supposed the truth was none of them had ever encountered a female quite like Annabel before. There was an innocence and naivety to her that seemed to ooze from her skin and she was always so bloody cheerful. Even after a day trudging through rain on horseback, and with an undoubtedly sore backside from bouncing about in the saddle, she could still see the bright side of things and manage a smile and story that cheered them. And Annabel hadn’t once acted the lady of the manor on their journey, demanding special treatment. Instead she’d insisted on helping out when they’d made camp each night. The truth was, she’d got in the way more than anything else. If he hadn’t guessed it from her atrocious riding skills, her lack of knowledge when it came to camping would have told them that she’d never been on a proper journey in her life. But she’d tried and that was worth more than gold to his mind, and obviously it had impressed his men as well.
Truthfully, while Ross could claim no responsibility for her disposition, he’d been proud as hell at how she’d conducted herself during the journey. She hadn’t once complained at the discomfort, or the fact that she hadn’t been allowed to pack and bring even one extra gown let alone her lady’s maid and such. She’d simply made the best of everything. She hadn’t even commented on the lack of a tent and the fact that they’d had to bed down around the fire each night with his men. She’d simply snuggled up to him when he’d spooned up behind her and she’d instantly dropped off to sleep as only the innocent and just could.
It was Ross who had lain awake each night, listening to her breathe and wishing he’d brought a tent for them to have some privacy. Idiot that he was, he’d lain there each night, imagining what he could have done had they a tent available to them. He’d imagined stripping her naked, rolling her on her back and finding all those secret places that made women such a joy to be with. He’d imagined making her moan and then weep with pleasure, and then sinking his body into hers and finding his own. These imaginings had not helped him sleep. Only the promise that when they reached MacKay he would get to do all those lovely things to her had eased the ache enough to allow him to eventually find sleep.
However, it had been after midnight when they’d arrived at MacKay. He’d been exhausted, and Annabel even more so. She’d actually dozed off in the saddle hours before that and he’d taken her on his horse so she wouldn’t topple out of her own. By the time they’d arrived, it had been all Ross could do to carry his sleeping bride inside and upstairs to their room. There he’d stripped and set her abed, and then tugged off his plaid and dropped into bed beside her, falling immediately into an exhausted sleep.
Despite that, Ross had woken before her this morning. Annabel had been burrowed under the furs, sleeping so peacefully he hadn’t had the heart to disturb her. So he’d gone in search of his second to get his report on events during his absence. However, he’d had one hell of a time concentrating on the man’s words. His mind had kept wandering upstairs to his sleeping bride until he’d finally excused himself to go up and find her…only to have her remind him that it was Wednesday.
Annabel was about to take the veil to become a nun when her mother suddenly arrives at the Abbey to take her home… so that she can marry the Scottish laird who is betrothed to her runaway sister! She knows nothing about being a wife, nothing about how to run a household, and definitely nothing about the marriage bed!
But from the moment Ross MacKay sets eyes on Annabel, he is taken with his shy sweet bride… and the fact that she’s blessed with lush curves only makes him utter his own prayers of thanks. But when an enemy endangers her life, he’ll move the Highlands themselves to save her. For though Annabel’s not the bride he planned for, she’s the only woman he desires.
From AN ENGLISH BRIDE IN SCOTLAND by Lynsay Sands. Copyright (c) 2013 by Lynsay Sands. Reprinted by permission of Avon/William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.