Ashblane's Lady (Harlequin Historical #838) [NOOK Book]

Overview

She was his means of revenge...

Lady Madeleine Randwick was his hostage, and a way to get under her brother's skin. As a player in the murky game of borderland politics, Alexander Ullyot, Laird of Ashblane, should have had no compunction about using her for his own ends. He should ruin her as surely as he wanted to ruin her brother.

And instead...instead he found he was complimenting her. Was it the firelight in her hair, the soft, low tone of ...

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Ashblane's Lady (Harlequin Historical #838)

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Overview

She was his means of revenge...

Lady Madeleine Randwick was his hostage, and a way to get under her brother's skin. As a player in the murky game of borderland politics, Alexander Ullyot, Laird of Ashblane, should have had no compunction about using her for his own ends. He should ruin her as surely as he wanted to ruin her brother.

And instead...instead he found he was complimenting her. Was it the firelight in her hair, the soft, low tone of her voice or her stubborn streak of independence? Alex saw danger ahead. Was he falling for the woman who was his means of revenge...?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459202771
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/21/2011
  • Series: Harlequin Historical Series , #838
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 368,590
  • File size: 777 KB

Meet the Author



Georgette Heyer novels formed Sophia James's reading tastes as a teenager lying in the sun on her grandmother's porch overlooking a wild west-coast beach.

Her writing life, however, started in Bilbao, Spain. After having three wisdom teeth extracted she was given a pile of Mills and Boons—filled with strong painkillers she imagined that she could pen one, too.

Many drafts later she thinks she has the perfect job writing for Harlequin Historical as well as taking art tours to Europe with her husband who is a painter.

Three almost-grown-up children, lots of pets and house renovations that are never quite finished complete the equation.
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Read an Excerpt

Heathwater Castle, northwest England. 30 September, 1358

"There is a grounde called the Debatable Grounde, lying between the Realme of England and Scotland."

"Ian!'

The anguished keening cry of a name travelled on the wind over Heathwater as Laird Alexander Ullyot tore off his jacket and rocked back and forth across the dead body of his clansman.

Lady Madeleine Randwick, watching from the woods, could barely believe such emotion to come from him, for the Chief of the clan of Ullyot, born and bred in the Scottish Highlands and the bastard son of a royal father who had never claimed him, was far better known for his cruelty and callousness.

And she could well understand why. With the rain pouring down in earnest, his face looked hewn from cold hard marble. Not pretty. Not comely. No young man's face this, full of dreams and promises, but a worn and tried visage underscored by danger and seasoned by tragedy. The scar that ran across his right cheek and into the hairline of his dark blond hair could be seen even from this distance, lending him a hardened beauty that took Madeleine's breath away. No healer worth her salt had worked on him, she thought, folding her cloak across the brightness of her hair as his double-handed claymore caught the sun.

Lord, if he saw her!

Crouching lower, she viewed the oozing wounds on his arm and back dispassionately. A deep gash might well poison his blood. With intent, she weighed up her options. If he died, her brother might relax his guard around Heathwater, giving her the chance she needed to escape.

Escape from Noel and Liam and Heathwater. How long had she dreamed of that? Shewas about to turn away when she noticed his shoulders shaking.

He was crying.

The hated Laird of Ullyot, scourge of the borderlands and instigator of a hundred bloody battles, was crying as he brought the fingers of the one he mourned to his lips in a tender last embrace.

Madeleine stayed still, the image of muscle and wartoughened invincibility strangely disconcerting against such grief. She noticed him stiffen as soon as he perceived a sound from further down the valley, the dirt on his hands marking his face as he swiped his eyes and stood, glance chilling and sword drawn.

So this was her enemy close up. This man, whose land ran north of her own along the border of Scotland and joined with the tracts of her brother's domain west of the River Esk.

She sensed his awareness of being watched as he scanned the undergrowth on the hillock behind her, but the arrival of a group of Ullyot men drew his attention away. She could hear his deep voice relaying orders as the bodies of fallen friends were separated from foe and placed on a dray pulled by two horses. She wondered where his own horse was, her curiosity appeased a moment later as he tilted his head and whistled to a steed of the deepest black. With a growing fear, Madeleine burrowed back into the root space and tried to recall all she had ever heard of the clan Ullyot.

Ashblane.

His keep hewn of stone, tall and windowless, the little light allowed in banished by dirtied cattle skin. Terence, her brother's servant, had told her this once just after her mother had died. A cautionary tale, she had guessed, to balance her own lot against that of others, for no one could live more bleakly than Alexander, the powerful and arrogant Chief of Ullyot.

The bodies had been stacked now and angry drifts of conversation reached her fleetingly before the rising wind snatched them away and pulled at the plaid Ullyot had draped across the faces of his fallen. The dirty tartan was stained in red. His arm, she supposed. Or his nose. Or the slash she could see deep across his back as he turned, the marks of battle mingling with the rusty blush of blood.

His men crowded around him as if for comfort. Fleetingly she wondered who would give him comfort, the wayward thought catching her as being so absurd that she had to stifle a laugh. A man like Ullyot would need no comfort, no cosiness nor succour to lighten his way. The Laird had chosen his pathway, after all, and rumour had it that it did not include the support of anyone or anything. Loneliness was his code, and hatred his inspiration.

Glancing up at the sky, she tried to judge the time of day as the party disappeared through the wooded hills leading to the river. She dared not start for Heathwater Castle till the sun was lower, the ridges protecting her only marginally from the scouts and sentries she knew would be posted until the Ullyot party was well out of sight. Resisting the urge to creep forward to tend to any of her brother's men, she stayed still until she could be certain that they truly had gone. Already she could imagine the knells and peels of the chapel bells at Noel's castle, and she dreaded going back. Dreaded seeing the mothers of sons lying fallen, the colour of the Ullyot plaid not shading their faces as the cold and rolling mists settled in from the Scottish Lowlands.

An hour or so later Madeleine deemed it safe to move, and she had almost reached the line of trees where she had instructed her sister"dressed, as always, as her page and who was safer here than at Heathwater"to wait, when a movement caught her attention. One of the Ullyot soldiers appeared out of nowhere and was shouting as he tracked into the glade, sword drawn. A prickling fear enveloped her. Something was wrong. Even from this far she could see that it was wrong.

"Jemmie,' she screamed and raised her hand, surprised to find it whipped behind her back in a punishing grip.

"Keep still, lassie." The voice at her ear was deep and imbued with the tones of a Highland Scot, and her whole world narrowed as she turned.

It was him, Alexander Ullyot, and she had not heard even the whisper of a footstep.

Eyes of the palest silver ran across her from head to foot, narrowing as the nails on her right hand raked down the ragged flesh on his arm.

"Cease,' he cursed and pulled her against him, pulled her into sinew and muscle and war-sculptured bone. Pulled her into warmth and sweat and the tantalising scent of pure male. And for a second everything slowed.

Safety. Strength. Potency. When had she ever touched a man who felt like this? Who looked like this? Her breath fanned out against the wide bare skin at his throat and lust swamped her.

A warrior.

A fighter. A leader who knew his worth in a land that gave no second chances to those who didn't. She wanted to place her cheek against his chest and beg for refuge. She wanted to hold him as a shield against a world she could no longer fathom…did not want to fathom.

"Who the hell are you?"

No angel's voice. The anger grounded her, as did the blood from his shoulder, dark against her arm and powdered into blackness. He would likely kill her if she gave her name. Red dizziness blossomed and the beat of her heart angled into panic.

"Who are you?' he repeated, his hand clamped hard across her shoulders. Maddy's breath caught and thickened and when she tried to turn to see what was happening to Jemmie, the roiling tunnel of blackness stripped her of balance and she tumbled into nothingness.

Madeleine came to in a filthy cell littered with marsh reeds. Jemmie lay beside her, unconscious, the fastenings on her thin wrists mirroring her own; already the rats were grouping. The cote-hardie she had worn was gone and her kirtle had been overlaid with the Ullyot plaid, the squares of blue, red and black dull in this light and barely respectable given the linen on her shift was ripped in a number of places and the ties at her bodice cut. Shock made her tremble; even in the coldness of this day she was sweating. Why were they here? And where was here? Not Ashblane, she mused, for a banner draped across the wall showed the crest of the Armstrongs.

Her movement brought a face to the cell door. A gaptoothed man with long dirty hair peered in through the bars, though he covered his eyes with his hand as soon as he perceived her watching him.

"She's awake." The slippery vowels of Gaelic. She'd never learnt the language past the rudiments and could not catch the gist of the reply from further out.

The sackcloth surprised her as two men strode inside. As they wrapped it firmly around her head, she wondered why they should want to carry her this way and began fighting as soon as her wrists were released. She was rewarded with a harsh smack across her cheek and tears stung her eyes. These men would kill her. Fear throbbed deep as she listened to the passage they took. Up some stairs, she guessed, and into a room warmer than the others. The slight smell of charcoal assailed her nostrils, and also the more astringent aroma of sweat, as the men placed her on her feet.

"Remove the covering." The voice was chilling and she straightened, her eyes blinking in the harsh and sudden lightness.

Laird Alexander Ullyot stood before her, flanked by two men almost as tall as he. He had not bathed since she had seen him last, though now he wore a coarse woollen overjacket. The hard planes of his face in the glow of a banked fire were ominous, as were the leather bindings that anchored his left arm. She knew without being told that they hurt him, for he kept himself strangely still even as he held the attention of all those around him.

"The Armstrong laird names you as Madeleine Randwick? Sister to Baron Noel Falstone of Heathwater? Is this the truth?'

Nodding, her glance fell to his heavy bladed falchion before regaining his face. The surprise she had noticed fleetingly a moment ago had escalated into anger as he strode forward, tipping her chin up and rubbing at the bruise on her cheekbone.

"Who hit her?' "She struggled, Laird, and I had to"'

The man who had taken her from the cell got no further. A backhanded jab from Alexander Ullyot knocked him flat.

"Replace him, Marcus."

One of the men beside him nodded and Maddy felt heartened by the exchange, though Ullyot's next words were not at all comforting.

"You are a prisoner here, Lady Randwick. A hostage to make your brother see sense."

"He will not", "Silence." The quiet order was more disconcerting than an outright shout. She noticed simultaneously the corded veins in his neck and the chips of dark silver in his eyes. She also saw the intricate crest that topped the gold ring on his little finger. The lion of Scotland! Danger spiralled into dizzying fear and she stumbled and would have fallen had he not come forward to steady her. His hand was cold and the hard shape of a dagger strapped in the fold of his sleeve unnerved her further. He felt the need to carry hidden weaponry even in the company of his own men and allies? What laws did he live by?

The answer came easily.

None.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Slow..............................................................

    Surprisingly slow considering it was only191 pages. A good deal of those pages going over and over how guilty they felt over descisions they had made in the past-------even though they had no real alternative at the time. And then the falling in love part which for some reason is always-- RELUCTANTLY. Not a bad story ---just a little slow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 31, 2011

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    Posted June 3, 2011

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    Posted May 31, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2011

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