Copyright Š 2003 by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Excerpt fromWedding For A Knight
Copyright Š 2003 by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review.
Warner Books, Inc.
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Visit our Web site at www.twbookmark.com [http://www.twbookmark.com]
First eBook Edition: December 2008
The MacLean Bane
About the Author
A Preview of Wedding for a Knight
RAVE REVIEWS FOR SUE-ELLEN WELFONDER
BRIDE OF THE BEAST
Larger-than-life characters and a scenic setting. . . . Welfonder pens some steamy scenes.
A wonderful story . . . well told . . . a delightful mix of characters.
BRIDE OF THE BEAST is a thrilling story. . . . It is so sensual at times it gives you goose bumps. . . . Ms. Welfonder spins pure magic with her vibrant characters.
Reader to Reader Reviews
This tale by Ms. Welfonder will leave an indelible mark on readers hearts and minds. Marmaduke is a hero to dream about and youll be as much under his spell as Caterine. . . . Ms. Welfonder secures her place as a writer on the way to stardom.
KNIGHT IN MY BED
Exciting, action-packed . . . a strong tale that thoroughly entertains.
Midwest Book Review
The perfect blend of intrigue, forbidden love, and danger. . . . a story you will want to devour.
Ripe with sexual tension. . . . The fast pace, flawless narration, vivid and vital characters, sharp and witty dialogue, and an interesting and suspense-filled plot all make this book a must-read. Breathtaking!
Steamy . . . sensual. . . . Readers will enjoy this book.
Electrifying . . . provocative . . . lushly descriptive . . . a ripe and willing offering for romance readers who thrill over anything Scottish.
DEVIL IN A KILT
A lovely gem of a book. Wonderful characters and a true sense of place make this a keeper. If you love Scottish tales, youll treasure this one.
Patricia Potter, bestselling author ofAs captivating as a spiders web, and the reader cant get free until the last word. It is easy to get involved in this tense, fast-moving adventure.
The Heart Queen
FOUR AND A HALF STARS! This dynamic debut has plenty of steaming sensuality . . . a dusting of mystery. Youll be glued to the pages by the fresh, vibrant voice and strong emotional intensity. . . . Will catapult Welfonder onto must-read lists.
Also by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Devil In A Kilt
Knight In My Bed
Bride of the Beast
For the love of wild places, the roots in the land, and quiet moments. For ancient yews, old stone, and Highland sunsets, the splendor of golden afternoons.
And for a long-ago Highlandman, Iain of Lochaber, whose lot in life should have been as bright and shining as his noble and valiant heart.
As always with deepest appreciation and eternal gratitude for the intrepid heroines of my real life, my agent and friend, Pattie Steele-Perkins, for always being there, even in the storms; and my editor, Karen Kosztolnyik, who is so great of heart shed make a splendid heroine in any Scottish Medieval. Ladies, I am indebted to you both.
And for my handsome husband, Manfred, my real-life hero, whose patience and support allows me to hide away in my turret and chase my dreams; and, too, for my own wee four-legged champion, my little dog, Em, who loves me despite my long hours at the computer and never fails to brighten my day.
The MacLean Bane
Farther back in time than any living clansman would ever dare to question, two notable characteristics began distinguishing MacLean males, setting them apart from all other men: the fierceness of their heated blood and their ability to love, truly love, only one woman, the latter trait being either a blessing or a curse.
And, willingly or unwillingly, in the early days of summer 1331, on the fair Isle of Doon, the most hot-tempered MacLean of them all was about to challenge tradition.Chapter One
Baldoon Castle, The Isle of Doon, 1331
XACTLY ONE YEAR TO THE DAY since his sweet lady wife breathed her last, Iain MacLeans black temper un leashed the disaster his clan had eer dreaded, and neither the frantic labors of his kinsmen nor the deceptive beauty of the unusually calm night could undo his calamitous act.
The damage was too severe.
His familys private chapel would soon be little more than soot and ash, its much-praised splendor naught but a memory.
Guilt bitter on his tongue, Iain scanned the smoke-clogged great hall for a hapless soul to vent his wrath upon, but his clansmen dashed right past him, hastily filled water buckets clutched in their hands, each one paying him scant, if any, heed.
Iains brows snapped together. He couldnt hasten anywhere. Fury and disbelief twisted through him, turning his legs to lead and rooting him to the spot even as all his darker emotions coiled into a cold knot of self-contempt deep in his gut.
Scarce more than a grim-faced shadow of the carefree man hed once been, he raked shaking fingers through his soot-streaked hair and mentally prepared himself to glower at any poor soul foolhardy enough to glance his way.
Eager to reward any such effrontery with a blaze-eyed glare hot enough to wipe the disapproving mien off a gawkers face, he was sadly impotent against the fine Hebridean gloaming that sought to mock him by spilling its fair light through the halls high-set window slits.
The wide-splayed recesses glowed with a soft, luminous gold, wholly uncaring of the torment whirling inside him . . . or the blasphemy hed committed.
Iain blew out an agitated breath. He preferred stormy, cloud-chased skies, knew well the perfidy, the seductive illusion, of a placid-seeming summers eve.
And naught spoiled the deception of this one save the acrid smoke tainting the air and the cold darkness in his own heart.
That, and the harried shouts of his kinsmen as they fought to extinguish the flames of what, until a short while ago, had been the finest oratory in all the Western Isles.
The pride of the MacLeans . . . destroyed in a heart beat.
Tsk, tsk, tsk. A particularly annoying voice pierced the din. Youd best hope for divine forgiveness, laddie. Gerbert, Baldoons seneschal since time beyond mind, thrust his bristly chin forward, clearly bent on pushing Iain past the bounds of endurance. This nights sacrilege will cast a pall oer every man, woman, and child who bear the name MacLean.
Making no attempt to hide his perturbation, Iain fixed his darkest look on the scrap of a graybeard whod dared disrupt his brooding. If the saints are as all-seeing as a certain white-haired goat eer claims, theyll be wise enough to ken I alone shoulder the blame.
Gerbert matched Iains glare, his rheumy blue eyes narrowed in unrepentant ire.
Aye, the good Lord will be having His finger on you, he prophesied, swatting a knobby-knuckled hand at the thick tendrils of smoke drifting between them.
His finger? Iain scoffed, his vexation mounting. Some would say Hes burdened me with more than a finger.Try having your wife fall prey to a power-hungry uncle, then live with knowing you couldnt save her, that she met her fate on a tidal rock, tied fast by her own tresses, and left to drown.
Iains chest grew so tight he could scarce breathe. Ire pounded through him, the image of Lileas cold and still, seaweed entangled in her unbound hair, stirring his rage with all the fierce intensity MacLean males were said to experience upon recognizing their one true soul mate.
A ridiculous notion if ever there was one.
The only wildly intense emotionshed
eer experienced were those borne of vexation, not mindless passion.
His blood heating, he squared his shoulders and stepped closer to the seneschal, hoping his formidable height and hard-trained body would intimidate the clack-tongued elder, but the ploy failed.
The belligerent old rotter continued to bore holes in him with a decidedly pointed stare.
Iain drew a series of long, deep breaths until the tension beneath his ribs began to lessen. Aye, he conceded at length, raising his voice to ensure the seneschal under stood his every word. Would the pearly-winged saints peer inside me this very moment, theyd find more than a finger weighing heavy on my heart.
Ive known you since before you could say your name, laddie. Gerberts scrawny chest swelled with importance. Tis you, and you alone, heaping burdens on yourself.
Sheer weariness kept Iain from giving a derisive snort. Think you? he asked instead, the cool smoothness of his tone enough to send a less courageous man sprinting for shelter.
Gerbert nodded, his silence speaking worlds.
And what else do you think? Iain pressed, full aware hed regret asking. The graybeards unnerving perception could cut to the quick.
is that youve made your own sorry bed, andGerbert poked at Iains chest with a youd-best listen-to-me fingermayhap if it werent such a cold and empty bed, youd not be stomping about wound so tight you fail to see where youre heading.Fail.
Iain cringed, the very word plunging like an expertly wielded knife straight into his heart.
He knew more about failing than all the men of the Isles and Highlands combined.
A lass in my bed on this of all days? Have you gone addled? He shoved Gerberts thrusting finger from his ribs. Wenching is the last he broke off, indignation closing his throat.
In another life, he would have laughed aloud at the absurdity of the thin-shouldered seneschal even mentioning such things as manly needs and bare-bottomed lasses.
life, Iain MacLean, possessor of the loneliest heart in the Hebrides, had forgotten how to laugh. So he did what he could. He scowled. Light skirts and lust-slaking. Leaning forward, he narrowed his eyes at the old goat. What would you know of such pursuits?
Enough to ken what ails the likes o you. Gerberts face scrunched into an odd mixture of pity and reproach.
Iain stiffened, a vein in his temple beginning to throb. He wanted nary a shred of sympathy. Not from Baldoons cantankerous seneschal, not from any man.
Nor did he need censure.
Or a lass in his bed.Most especially not a lass in his bed.
In the year since his wifes passing, hed become quite adept at stilling his baser urges. He scarce remembered what it was like to have his blood fired, much less feel his loins quicken with need.
He took a deep breath, wincing when the acrid air stung his lungs. One year ago today, Lileas was stranded on the Lady Rock. She drowned there, he elaborated, carefully enunciating each word. That, and naught else, is what ails me.