In battle-torn Scotland, a castle’s mistress awaits her groom, a warrior
she has never met . . .
Lady Gwendolyn Murphy’s fiancé has finally arrived at Latharn Castle,
but she expects no joy in their introduction. Gwendolyn is well aware of
Bróccín MacRaith’s cold reputation. Yet from first glance, she is drawn
to the intimidating stranger. Impossible! How could she be dazzled by
such a callous man?
Little does she know, Bróccín is dead. The man Gwendolyn believes to be
her intended is actually Sir Aiden MacConnell, a member of the Knights
Templar and her enemy, masquerading as the earl to gain access to the
castle. His soul is dedicated to God and war; he has no time for
luxuries of the flesh. But Gwendolyn’s intoxicating beauty, intellect,
and fortitude lures him to want the forbidden.
With the wedding date quickly approaching and the future of Scotland at
stake, Aiden gathers critical intelligence and steels himself for his
departure, vowing to avoid an illicit liaison. But a twist of fate
forces him to choose—move forward with a life built on a lie, or risk
everything for the heart of one woman?
The soft glow of candles exposed Lady Gwendolyn as she stepped into the light. Despite the relative darkness, her hair gleamed with warmth, and her dress fluttered around her womanly curves.
God’s sword, what was she doing here? Cailin and Rónán were to join him at any time. If she’d listened in on their conversation, ‘twould have put all of their lives at risk.
“Why did you nae show yourself when I entered?” he challenged, irritated he hadna noticed her when he’d stepped inside, nor taken a moment to inspect the chamber.
Defiance flashed in her eyes. “I owe you nay explanation for my presence in my chapel.”
She damn well did, a fact they both knew. From their first meeting in the stable she’d held her ground, had exposed her stubbornness, but that didna excuse her impropriety. “Why were you spying on me?” he demanded, thankful ‘twas only prayers she’d overheard.
“I wasna spying.”
He stepped towards her.
Gwendolyn stiffened. “Stay where you are!”
At the nerves in her voice he paused. Never would he cause her harm, except she believed he was Bróccín, a warrior renown as a brutal leader. Regardless of the man’s reputation, he couldna fake that level of cruelty. She was a pawn, a move to play, nay more.
“I willna hurt you,” Aiden assured her.
She didna move.
“You are afraid of me,” he said.
As if poking a badger with a stick, her eyes flared with warning. “I fear nay man.”
Memories of the brutality he’d witnessed over the years in war slammed through his mind. “Then you are a fool.”
“You know naught about me to make such a judgement, but know this, I am far from a weak-kneed lass who you can intimidate.” She angled her jaw. “I agreed to Lord Comyn’s request to wed a man of his choosing, only to ensure my people’s safety, and to protect my home. I assure you, if I had a full contingent of knights to keep my castle secure, our marriage would never take place.”
Her face flushed with anger, and her blonde locks framing narrowed grey eyes, she looked like a defiant fairy, and to Aiden, the lass couldna have been more beautiful. Irritated by the shot of need sliding through him, he focused on his mission. He and his men couldna risk raising suspicion during their brief stay. Neither could he allow her rebellious nature to interfere with their plans.
“Your people and home will be cared for.” By which side was another matter. “As your betrothed, you will obey me. I willna tolerate your defiance.”
“I will be your wife,” she stated, “but never will I capitulate to being an observer when it comes to my people’s needs.”
He shoved aside his growing admiration for the fierce lass, damned yet another innocent was harmed in Lord Comyn’s bid for power. Nor with the stakes so high, could this be helped.
Aiden folded his hands over his chest. “As long as you follow my orders, we shall get along fine.”
“I await the day that you ride off in battle,” she said through clenched teeth.
“As I.” More than she understood.
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