The Firebrand

The Firebrand

4.1 6
by May McGoldrick
     
 

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Beginning with The Dreamer and continuing with The Enchantress, May McGoldrick's Highland Treasure Trilogy captures the lives and loves of three Scottish sisters. Now, meet Adrianne...The Firebrand...A woman without compromise or inhibitions....

Adrianne Percy was hidden in the Western Isles, safe from her family's enemies - until her sisters sent a notorious pirate

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Overview

Beginning with The Dreamer and continuing with The Enchantress, May McGoldrick's Highland Treasure Trilogy captures the lives and loves of three Scottish sisters. Now, meet Adrianne...The Firebrand...A woman without compromise or inhibitions....

Adrianne Percy was hidden in the Western Isles, safe from her family's enemies - until her sisters sent a notorious pirate to return her to the Highlands. But when she hatches a plan to free her kidnapped mother, it requires her to marry the handsome rogue - and what begins as a simple matter of business quickly flares into an uncontrollable desire...

Editorial Reviews

Kathe Robin
May McGoldrick may ask readers to suspend their disbelief, but they will gladly expand their imaginations to reach the stunning conclusion of this series.
Romantic Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781508441281
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
02/01/2015
Pages:
308
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One


Kisimul Castle, The Isle of Barra
Western Scotland
Five Months Later


The cry of anguish from the wooden cage hanging high above the rocks brought nods of approval from the throng huddled together at the base of the castle wall.

    "And I'm telling you, Wyntoun, she is too obstinate a vixen to die of a wee bit of weather!"

    The gust of the bitter Hebrides wind carried the nun's declaration up the stone walls of the castle to the inhabitant of the swinging cage. The boxlike prison of wood and rope hung suspended from what looked like a ship's bowsprit projecting out from a corner of the main tower of the castle.

    From the confines of the cage, Adrianne Percy peered down at the cold stare of the Abbess of the Chapel of St. Mary. Fighting the bile in her throat and the numbness of her bare fingers clutching the wooden slats, she strained to hear every word.

    "Surely, considering the ice and the rain and all, the woman must have endured enough punishment already ..."

    "The lass has been up there just a few short hours!" the nun snapped accusingly. "Three days! She will remain up there three days—"

    Adrianne shook the cage, drawing up all eyes. "Make it three hundred days, if you like, for this punishment is preferable, by far, to everything else you have meted out to me since arriving on this accursed island."

    The abbess howled upward into the wind. "Any less than three days and I will not even consider giving her leave to beg forforgiveness."

    The young woman shook the cage again. "Beg for forgiveness? Never!"

    "Five days," the abbess shouted.

    "I have done no wrong, and if there is any forgiveness needed, 'twill be granted by me only." Adrianne's voice rose over a gust of wind. "Do you hear? By me!"

    Adrianne felt the satisfaction and despair blend and curl in her chest at the sight of the ancient nun mumbling and making her way carefully over the rocks toward the main entrance of the keep. The abbess only stopped long enough to call out her answer before continuing.

    "Seven days, vixen!"

    "Hell's gate! Just try to keep me here for seven days! For even one day. Virgil, be my guide," she intoned. "I'd raise hell's demons, except that they're probably already wearing an abbess's wimple!"

    Adrianne sniffed at the horrified gasps from the men below the cage. Glancing down, she looked at the newly arrived man—the one the abbess had called by the name of Wyntoun. He was standing apart from the rest with his arms crossed over his chest, and frowning up at her.

    A surge of anger made her want to spit down on him—and on the rest of them. But her present battle lay with the abbess. Fighting her unsettled stomach, queasy from the windblown motion of the cage, Adrianne shifted from one side to the other to watch the nun's departure.

    "You will not be escaping me! This pitiful pile of rock you call a castle is too small. You cannot escape hearing me ... hearing my curses, you—"

    "By the saints, wench!" the burly steward standing near the newcomer called up to her. "If ye do not hold yer rattling tongue, ye'll be hanging up there until ye rot."

    "Nobody called for you to speak, you muddle-headed scullion." She had the satisfaction of seeing a wave wash seawater up between the rocks and soak the man. "In fact, if it weren't for your wagging tongue delivering lies about what I had done, I wouldn't be here." A gust of wind had the cage again shake and swing precariously from the beam. Adrianne sank down on her knees as her stomach heaved from the jerky motion.

    An icy rain had begun to fall in earnest. The wind, picking up as the tide came in, added a bitter chill to the wintry dusk settling over them.

    She could handle the cold, even the soaking of her blanket and clothes with the icy rain. But she couldn't deal with the illness caused by the rough movements of the cage. She despised this weakness. Taking a chestful of cold salty air, she grabbed the large shell and the food that was left in it and pushed herself back to her feet.

    "And I'll not be so easily poisoned, either, you fish-faced pox mongers." She cast the dish and its contents fiercely downward. The food carried outward in the wind, falling on some of the onlookers as the shell itself shattered on the rocks not far from the newcomer's feet.

    "Come. All of you!" The abbess stood in the entryway to the castle. "Leave her."

    At the nun's sharp order the heads of the half-dozen men snapped around, and all but the newcomer climbed over the rocks, filing into the keep behind the diminutive woman.

    Still clutching the slats fiercely in her numb fingers, Adrianne wondered the reason for the man's arrival. She had seen the ship sail into the bay just as they'd been hanging the cage from the tower that morning. She had also seen the boat that had been rowed ashore with this man in it. She was certain that this was the same man, for he was easily a head taller than the others who had been standing on the rocks below. And then, there was his short black hair—the same color as his black attire. Very different than the others who lived on Barra. But as far as the rest of his looks, it was too long a drop to the wet rocks to notice anything else but his fierce glower.

    Watching him silently, Adrianne wondered why he had stayed behind.

    "Do you realize that your perch is higher than the uppermost rigging of most ships? You must not be afraid of the heights," he called out. "Though I know many a man who would swallow his tongue at the threat of being hung in a cage from Kisimul Castle."

    "Well, that says a great deal for the men of Barra!"

    A wave splashed up onto his boots. Lithe as a cat, the tall newcomer moved easily from rock to rock, passing under the cage and stopping on the far side.

    Adrianne shifted her hands on the slats and moved to the other side of the cage, so she could peer down at him.

    "So, what terrible crime did you commit to deserve this grim punishment?"

    She'd committed no crime, but she chose silence as an answer. Since her arrival on Barra, no one had yet believed anything she said, anyhow.

    "You can talk to me. I've already tried to speak on your behalf. I could be a friend."

    She snorted loud enough to make sure he heard.

    "I may not yet be convinced of your wickedness. I only just arrived on the island and—"

    "I saw you sail in," she exploded. "You're a Highlander, and therefore vexatious baggage ... like the rest of them."

    "You have too much mouth for a helpless English damsel."

    So he knew something of her background. "I am anything but helpless, you buffle-headed clackdish."

    "Buffle-headed? You must be confusing me with someone else. But you do appear helpless from where I'm standing. And from all I've heard since stepping foot on Barra, you seem to have committed some unforgivable sin. And an unmentionable one, I might add, since no one appears to want to speak of what exactly you did to rile the most gentle and mild-tempered abbess in the entire Western Isles."

    She looked frantically about the cage to find something else to throw at him. But there was nothing that she would dare give up.

    "To start, my recommendation would be for you to change your manner of speaking with her."

    Temper had already formed hot replies in her throat, but she had to forego her answer as a blast of wind lashed the swaying cage with more icy rain. Her white fingers clutched the slats of wood, as she fought down another lurch in her belly.

    "I've been acquainted with that gentle nun for a good portion of my life, and I'd say there is no man or woman or child living who would lend a hand to anyone bold enough to defy the wishes of that ... well, that saint of a woman."

    "I don't need or wish for help from any of you. I didn't ask for it, and I never will. You are all nothing but spineless, cowering toads, and you deserve what you get at her hands." Frustration forced her to shake the cage. Her voice rising to match the wind. "And despite what you fools want to believe, that woman is a tyrant."

    "Nay! She is a respected and loving leader who is highly regarded by the people of Barra ... and by their master, as well."

    "Humph! I have heard about that one, too. And how convenient! Rather than minding her own corner of Barra by running her paltry abbey, the `good' woman controls the entire island while the master—that, perpetually absent minnow of a nephew—stays away. I think the milksop is afraid to deal with this tyrant's wrath."

    "Minnow? Milksop? Is that the best you can do?"

    "Nay, I can do better!" she retorted sharply. "The `great' MacNeil is a roistering, shard-borne scut! From all I can tell, he's merely a venomous, bunch-backed puttock, a—"

    "Actually, mistress, he's a MacLean. His mother was a MacNeil."

    Adrianne glanced to the side to see the steward standing against the castle wall, watching the exchange.

    "M'lord!" The portly servant cleared his throat, sounding serious. "The abbess ... she wishes to speak with you."

    After giving a departing look at the cage, the Highlander headed across the rocks to the entryway into the castle. Holding the slats of the cage in each fist, she watched him disappear. The chill wind buffeted the cage within inches of the ancient tower wall, and the endless rain finally managed to bring about a wave of desperation. She frowned and gazed down at the arrogant steward who was lingering below—gloating up at her from the safety of the rocks by the castle wall.

    "Who is he?" She had to ask. "That Highlander! That fainthearted puppy who ran as soon as the abbess whistled for him."

    "That `puppy,' ye sharp-tongued vixen, is Sir Wyntoun MacLean, the abbess's nephew and the master of Kisimul Castle." She could see the man's grin even in the dusk. "He's the fiercest warrior ever to command either ship or raiding party. And after what ye said about him. I'd say 'twill be a fortnight before he'll be letting us feed ye, never mind let ye out of that cage of yers. Aye ... a full fortnight, I'd be wagering, ye quarrelsome chit."

    She glared at him until he disappeared into the castle again. The words should have frightened her, but Adrianne felt no remorse over what she had said and done. Five months. For five months she had been practically a prisoner on this island. For five months she had been corrected, condemned, made a fool of, and punished repeatedly for no reason. And it all had come to this moment.

    She looked down at the sharp drop. The sea was boiling up a little farther with each swell of the tide. The salty spray stung her face as the waves now washed over the rocks and battered the wall of the castle.

    Uncoiling one hand from the slats of the cage, Adrianne reached inside the waistband of her skirt beneath the cloak and drew out the small dagger she had hidden there. Reaching above her head, her fingers slid through the wide slats of the cage and took hold of the single thick rope that connected the cage to the beam.

    Aye, it had all come down to this, she thought, cutting away at the rope.

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Meet the Author

May McGoldrick
(a.k.a. Nikoo & Jim McGoldrick)
Nikoo and Jim McGoldrick are storytellers with a checkered past.
From the submarine shipyards of Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, and the clubs of Rodeo Drive, to the forges of Pennsylvania and the electronics manufacturers of Massachusetts, these two have spent their lives gathering material for their novels. Nikoo, a manufacturing engineer, and Jim, who has a Ph.D. in sixteenth-century British literature, wrote their first full-length novel in 1994. Since then, Jim and Nikoo have written twenty-seven novels and a work of nonfiction.
They write under the pseudonyms of May McGoldrick, Jan Coffey, and Nicole Cody.

These prolific and popular authors have been the recipients of numerous awards for their work. They now reside in Watertown, Connecticut.
Please visit their website at www.MayMcGoldrick.com

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Firebrand 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago

In 1535, following the King murdering their father, their mother Nicola Perry exiles her three daughters to different remote parts of Scotland for their safety. Catherine goes to Balvenie where she married her host John Stewart (see THE DREAMER). Laura travels to St. Duthac where she weds her protector William Ross (see THE ENCHANTRESS). The wildest one Adrianne drives the Abbess of Barra in the Western Isles crazy with her defiance.

Eventually, Wyntoun MacLean, master of the Isle, arrives and takes Adrianne away with him when he leaves. His seemingly altruistic motive disguises his effort to obtain the Treasure of Tiberius for the Knights of the Veil. At his father¿s castle, Adrianne and Wyntoun agree to marry in order to rescue her mother, now held hostage, and to attain the treasure without jeopardizing her now married and pregnant siblings. As they work together, Wyntoun and Adrianne fall in love, but any meaningful relationship remains in jeopardy from a traitor and the individual who abducted her mother.

THE FIREBRAND, the conclusion to the Perry siblings Highland trilogy, is an exiting, well-written historical romance filled with suspense and intrigue. The story line is fun as the lead charcaters struggle with an unknown enemy and their growing love for one another. The return of the stars from the previous tales adds to the overall pleasure of the plot. Though the story line requires some acceptance by the audience, May McGoldrick attains her third gold medal with this triumphant novel.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a splendidly done scottish historical romance. I just finished the last book of the trilogy and wished that there were more. How sad that today there are no longer magnificently handsome, passionate, gallant, and chilvarous men such as John the Athol, William Ross and Wyntoun MacLean. This was a beautifully written novel, fast-paced, plots everywhere to keep the reader in suspense. Not to mention the exquisite love scenes that will sure keep your heart-racing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I began reading the second in this series and from there, read all three. I continued to peruse used book stores for other out-of-print books by this husband & wife duo. The stories are page-turners and the use of language and humor is refreshing. The books offer, not only a great escape from everyday life, but also a great transition from heavier reading.
cmb1266 More than 1 year ago
Great story line. Great charactors. Excellent writing.  I recommend reading the trilogy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago