on October 10th 2016
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Desire tempted them. Honor forbade them. Love ensnared them.
Legendary warrior Lachlan MacLeod has never encountered anything or anyone he could not conquer. But when his younger brother confesses his love for Bridgette MacLean—the only woman Lachlan has ever wanted—Lachlan turns away from the beautiful Scottish lass, vowing to be no more than her friend. Yet his need for Bridgette enslaves him and may well prove to be the one thing he cannot defeat.
Fiercely independent Bridgette longs to be treated as an equal to the men. She always imagined great battles in her future, not great love. Then Lachlan saw her as no one ever had and captured her heart, awakening new cravings inside her without realizing it. But when Lachlan’s younger brother suffers a grave injury while saving her life, she feels unable to deny his plea for her heart. However, it is impossible to give what belongs to another…
Torn between their own desire and their loyalties, Bridgette and Lachlan must find the courage to grasp the passion awaiting them and face the pain their choice will cause. Yet even as they confront their future and love finally seems within their grasp, a fight for the Scottish throne divides the Highland clans and Bridgette becomes a pawn in a political game that threatens to tear her and Lachlan apart forever.
He folded his arms across his chest, where he’d keep them no matter what. “If ye were nae scairt and yer innocence was nae stolen, then why are ye crying?”
She raised her gaze to his, her brows dipping together and a frown coming to her face. “I hardly ken why,” she mumbled. They stood in silence for a short time and then she spoke again. “I suppose ’tis because I never imagined my first kiss—and certainly nae like this. I presumed it would happen only when I married.”
“Why nae till then? Ye’re certainly bonny.” It had always been his habit to speak plainly, but he saw by the widening of her eyes and the parting of her mouth that he likely should have kept his thoughts to himself.
Pink infused her cheeks, but her gaze held his. “Because I am odd. I wish to fight in battles.”
He nodded. Her brother had often lamented Bridgette’s desire to be treated as a man, and giving it thought now, Lachlan could recall her pleading to be trained to use a sword and her brother refusing her. “So,” he said, choosing his words with care, “ye believe that a woman who wishes to fight battles is undesirable to men?”
Her cheeks turned a deeper shade of pink and traveled swiftly to her neck. “Aye.”
“Ye’re desirable,” he assured her, though it was surely foolish for him to do so.
She stared at him as if he’d just sprouted wings, and then a smile twitched at her lips. “Ye’re verra kind,” she murmured and started to look away.
He caught her chin, then cursed himself for breaking his promise not to touch her, yet he did not release her. “I’m nae being kind. I’m being truthful.” God’s bones, his tongue was spouting words his brain knew better than to release.
Her eyes widened again, and her tongue darted out to lick her full upper lip and then lower lip. “I feel foolish,” she blurted, her blush turning the tips of her ears red. “I’d nae dreamed of being kissed, but now that I have been, I’m sore that my first kiss was so awful, and that will be a memory I keep always. And that is why I was blubbering. I dunnae usually cry. ’Tis weak.”
“I vow to ye,” he said, his voice coming out rougher than he’d meant it to. The desire coursing through him was affecting every part of him. “Ye will receive a kiss someday that will destroy the memory of the one just forced upon ye.”
“I dunnae see how. I’ll nae have a great love. I’ll marry because the men will clamor for my hand so as to make an alliance with my brother.”
He stared at her in wonder. She truly had no notion of her loveliness, nor how enticing her spirited behavior.
“I can taste his sourness,” she continued as she started walking ahead, her hips gently swaying and making his desire grow hotter. She let out a disgruntled sigh. “His kiss was rough,” she said with a shiver.
Ah, God above! The thought in his head now was one that he was certain he should ignore, yet how could he let her only memory of being kissed be such a terrible one when God alone knew when she’d make the next memory. He could not. One simple kiss would harm neither of them. One kiss, done well, would show her what she had to look forward to with a good and honorable man.
“Bridgette.” He clenched his jaw on his husky tone and strove harder to beat back the desire that was battering him. He cleared his throat. “Bridgette,” he tried again, pleased with his now-strong tone. “I’d like to kiss ye to give ye a better memory.”
She stopped and turned to him, doubt flickering in her gaze. She was going to need some convincing, which made him want to laugh. His thoughts were normally sinfully wicked for the lasses, and they all responded eagerly; now that his intentions were pure, he was met with resistance. Determination hardened his resolve. He had to sway her. He was certain it would help her.
Bridgette blinked and stared into Lachlan’s green eyes as they held hers. She had often dreamed of battles but never of being kissed. But she had fancied herself in love with Lachlan for near a sennight when she was but eight summers and he had rescued her dog after it had fallen into a ravine. The infatuation had been quickly forgotten when Lachlan’s family had departed from their visit and she had taken it into her head to become a warrior. All her thoughts had been for that, and no man had caused her to ponder anything different—nothing more intimate and female—until now.
She had to admit, now that she was presented with the opportunity to kiss Lachlan, she found herself eager. Lachlan was, after all, a fierce, honorable Scot, whom she had long admired and who also happened to be very pleasing to look upon. Muscle carved every part of his powerful body, but the easy smile he often wore tempered the ferocious picture he presented. Even so, she had doubts that a kiss from him—or any man—could wipe away the memory replaying in her mind.
“I dunnae think—”
Lachlan set a calloused finger gently to Bridgette’s lips, and a slow smile spread across his face. “Let me be the one to do the thinking for a spell.”
She snorted at that, even as her heart pounded. “How many lasses have ye said that to?”
To her dismay, he cocked his head and appeared to be thinking, but then a chuckle rumbled from him. “Nae a one. Ye’re the first lass who’s ever hesitated when I asked to kiss them.”
She smacked him on the chest. “It’s sinful to be so proud, ye ken?”
He caught her small hand with his big one and pressed it to his heart. The thump against her fingertips made them tingle. At least she thought that’s what it was. Her mind felt a tad fuzzy as his open stare bore into her. “I ken it’s sinful,” he said, his voice velvety and strong. “I’ll repent later. Now let me help ye.”
“A kiss kinnae have that much power, Lachlan Mac—”
His mouth covered hers, stealing the last of her protests and all of her doubts.
She eagerly let the words go, consumed by the searing heat of his kiss and the way her own body flamed in response to his demanding mastery. The peculiar pulsing at the juncture of her thighs and the tightening of her insides, which felt much like the string of her bow when she pulled it taut, made her moan and wiggle closer to him. A low growl emanated from him before his hand delved into her hair and he tugged her nearer. His tongue traced her upper and lower lips, then slipped between the two to explore her mouth. She welcomed him, tasting his saltiness and the slick slide of his tongue against hers.
He retreated slightly, and she groaned in disappointment only to be silenced by his lips once again taking hers with a savage intensity that made her blood roar in her ears, sing through her body, and pound in her head. Aching, unrelenting need consumed her as she moved her hands up the hard planes of his chest to cling to his shoulders. Her wounded hand pained her a bit, but she ignored it. Under her fingertips, his muscles bunched and twitched, as if her touch filled him with as much yearning as his did her.
Feeling emboldened, she pressed her chest against his, and the contact of his hard body to her soft one yanked a hiss from her and a guttural cry from him. Her eyes flew open as he shoved her away, panting. They didn’t speak but stood unmoving in the shadows, their short, sharp breaths filling the silence between them. After a time, Lachlan gave her a probing look. “Do ye think ye’ll forget the other kiss now?”
She stared at the rugged yet gentle warrior. The concern swimming in his eyes made her body tremble. The only thing she’d remember about this day was him and the way he had just made her feel, yet she could not say that. The man surely already knew too well how he affected women.
You can follow the Highlander Vows: Entangled Hearts series on Goodreads.
Julie is giving away a signed copy of When a Laird Loves a Lady and bejeweled bookmark.
She is curious…
What is one Highlander tradition that you would love to see written about in a book?