The Laird's Bride — out now
I’m delighted to announce that The Laird’s Bride is now available to be bought, in e-book and paperback. It’s a heartwarming, Regency-era, Scottish marriage of convenience story — quite a mouthful — and I hope you like it. (Buy links after the excerpt.)
A hot-headed vow to marry the first woman he sees, a meeting in a muddy bog, a hasty marriage between strangers, and a bride who demands to be courted — after the wedding.
Here’s an excerpt: Our hero, Cameron, having made an impulsive vow to marry the first woman her sees, is off to Inverness to find himself a bride. With him are his two cousins, now slightly the worse for drink. On the way, they come across a shepherd lad struggling to rescue a ewe and two lambs from a bog. Now, read on . . .
Cameron swore, swung off his horse and waded in. He scooped the lamb out first and set it on its feet beside its twin. Then he hauled the boy out, shoving him close to the bank. “Jimmy! Pull him out.”
Jimmy dismounted, gingerly took the boy’s dirty hands and dragged him onto the solid causeway. Cameron waded back in and tried to fetch the mother sheep. The stupid thing bucked and fought, and in seconds Cameron himself was black with bog mud.
His cousins watched from the bank, passing the flask back and forth, making bets and roaring with laughter.
But Cameron was strong and big and angry. He wrapped his arms around the sheep’s middle and heaved the filthy beast onto the bank, causing his cousins to leap back like fine ladies to avoid the mud. The sheep shook itself, bleated and trotted indignantly away, followed by the lambs.
Cameron’s cousins were laughing fit to burst. He’d fix them. “Help me out.” He held out his hands, but they laughed and backed away.
“We’re no so far gone we’d fall for that old trick,” Jimmy chortled.
“Canny bastards,” Cameron muttered as he climbed out of the bog, black mud dripping from him. “And if there’s no whisky left in that flask, I swear I’ll throw you in anyway.”
Laughing, Jimmy tossed him the flask. Cameron was about to drain it when he saw how the shepherd lad was shivering in the cold. He thrust it toward the boy, saying, “Here, lad, you need this more than me.”
The boy accepted it with a surprised expression and took a quick swig. He shuddered violently as the whisky went down, but managed to gasp out his thanks.
“So, boy,” Cameron said. “What’s your name?”
The shepherd boy gave a quick grin, a cheeky white slash in a muddy face. “Jeannie McLeay, sir, and thank you for getting the sheep out o’ the mud, even if you and your friends did panic the beasts in the first place. My grandad would’ve kilt me if I’d lost her.” She tried to wipe the mud off her face with her sleeve and only smeared it more.
“Jeannie?” Cameron stared. The coat she wore was a man’s coat, too big for her, rolled up at the sleeves and hanging down almost to her ankles, but though it was hard to tell because of the mud, there was a skirt beneath it. The boots she wore were a man’s boots, too big, surely for her feet and the hat crammed on her head was a man’s hat.
“Are ye married, Jeannie?” Jimmy asked, suddenly intent.
She frowned. “No,” she said cautiously.
“And where were ye born?”
“Stop that!” Cameron snapped, realizing what his cousin was up to.
Jimmy gave him an innocent look. “No harm in asking.”
“Drop it, Jimmy,” Cameron told his cousin. He was not going to marry some ragamuffin he’d dragged out of a bog.
“She’s the first one you’ve seen,” Jimmy insisted.
“The first what?” the girl demanded.
“He couldna take her anyway,” Donald argued. “She’s just a wee thing, no’ a grown woman.”
She looked from one to the other. ”Take me where? Nobody’s taking me anywhere.”
“Stow it you two, the whole idea’s ridiculous,” Cameron said. His cousins took no notice. There was a bet on and the contents of the flask were obviously well absorbed.
“How old are you, Jeannie lass?” Jimmy asked.
“Nineteen,” Jeannie McLeay said, eying each man suspiciously. “But as I said, nobody’s taking me anywhere.” She began to edge away.
* * * * *