Heat of the Knight

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In 1747 Scotland, treachery looms as battle lines run deep between the proud, struggling clans and the Highland Rangers who torment them. Here a young widow fights to save her honor-and her life.

A HEADSTRONG WIDOW

Since Lisle MacHugh lost her husband in battle, her clan has barely survived. Now, the MacHughs can reverse their ill fortune if they agree to give Lisle's hand in...

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Overview

In 1747 Scotland, treachery looms as battle lines run deep between the proud, struggling clans and the Highland Rangers who torment them. Here a young widow fights to save her honor-and her life.

A HEADSTRONG WIDOW

Since Lisle MacHugh lost her husband in battle, her clan has barely survived. Now, the MacHughs can reverse their ill fortune if they agree to give Lisle's hand in marriage to their greatest enemy: the notorious Black Monteith.

A POWERFUL LAIRD

The wealthy Langston Leed Monteith, aka the Black Monteith, has returned to Scotland after years of banishment. With his father's misdeeds leaving the family name in tatters, no decent lass will marry him. But when Monteith sets eyes upon the fiery Lisle, he knows he must have her...

TWO HEARTS UNITED

Once wed, Lisle resists her fierce attraction to the man she loathes. But she has found her match in Monteith, who introduces her to pleasures she never dreamed possible. When their secrets are revealed, Lisle and Monteith will confront their greatest challenge, testing their union as husband and wife.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821780138
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 11/1/2007
  • Series: Zebra Historical Romance Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.32 (w) x 7.06 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Heat of the Knight


By Jackie Ivie

ZEBRA BOOKS

Copyright © 2007 Jacquelyn Ivie Goforth
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8217-8013-8


Chapter One

AD 1747

He remembered the smell ... the feel; just about everything.

"Jesu'!"

Langston sucked in a breath full of peat, fog-blessed chill, and damp dirt. Shivers of reaction ran all along the six-and- a-half-foot frame he'd matured into, making even his hands tremble on the reins. He let the breath out and smiled wryly before pulling in another, testing the air for the lingering notes from what had sounded like a solitary piper. It must have come with the memory. He shrugged, and then the yelling started.

"Angus MacHugh! You auld fool!"

The woman behind the noise appeared, coming straight at him, shoving her hair from her shoulders with one hand, while the other held up her skirts, and the sky-blue eyes she looked at him with went all the way through him.

That wasn't the reaction he got from most women. It wasn't a response he got from any woman. Langston moved his horse sideways as she passed, swirling the mist with her skirts. She was fantastic enough to be drawn up from his imagination: gorgeous, full-figured, reckless, wild.... He blinked. If he wasn't mistaken, there was a pistol tucked into her waistband, too.

"There you are! You've got to stop!"

She had obviously reached her prey. Langston couldn't decide if he pitied or envied him.

"The rangers are at our steps! And you're the wretch that brought them!"

"But Lisle-"

"Don't 'But Lisle' me! I'll not stand for it! We've got but two shillings left to our name, and they'll want that for fines and such. Like as not, they'll take your pipes, too! They might even take you! You know the penalty. What will I do then? How will the lasses cope?"

"I dinna' mean to start anything. I only-"

"I already know what you wanted. We all want it. It's not going to happen. Scotland's lost, and we're the ones that lost it ... now move! Back to the bog with you. Get your trousers back on and hide that sett a-fore you lose your hand, or worse! Stick to the rocks and doona' let anyone else see you!"

Her voice had softened, belying the harsh words she was using. Langston moved his horse slowly ... going one step closer, then another. They weren't far; they couldn't be, but fog made the ground beneath his horse's hooves look fathoms deep, and the distance was impossible to guess from the sound of their words.

"Hush, Angus! What was that?" Lisle whispered.

Langston had heard it, too, and he pulled on the bridle, lifting his horse's head with the movement. The sound hadn't been him. It was something else. Someone was coming ... someone big.

"Quick! Give me the pipes! Nae, I'll na' hand them over. What do you take me for, a Monteith? I can't just let you get caught with them! That plaide's going to get you in enough trouble. Quick! Hurry home. There's four Highland Rangers sitting in the kitchen, awaiting scones as we speak. They seem to think we can fry them from thin air, and serve them with sunlight for a topping. Stupid, arrogant, thoughtless men. I'll be right behind you. I promise. That's a love. Watch your step, now."

Langston smiled at her description of Captain Robert Barton's troops. They were every bit of all that, but she'd forgotten to add flirtatious. That was why they were stopped at that goddess-woman's step and visiting with the lasses she'd referenced. It wasn't for any scone. It was to receive a smile and a soft word or two from that mouth. Now that he'd just heard them, he wanted to stand in line and receive the same.

Their hooves weren't making much sound, but bridles hadn't the same muffling benefit on the soft moor. Langston backed his horse two steps up the hillside and was swallowed by mist almost the moment he did. It was a troop of Highland Rangers, riding single file and with deadly intent. He could barely make them out, and held his breath as not one looked his way. His ears told him how many there were. He just hoped they hadn't heard what he just had.

"Why ... Mistress MacHugh. Fancy seeing you out and about."

"Captain Barton," she answered with a curt, barely polite tone.

Langston could envision how she'd look. She'd most likely hidden the pipes and pistol. To do anything other was inviting her own penalty.

MacHugh, he thought, letting the lineage run through his mind. There'd been a MacHugh in this glen since the infancy of the world. Theirs was a clan spewing out chieftains; all large, healthy, red-headed, and boisterous-all loyal to the Stuart, even unto death. He didn't know which MacHugh the auburn-haired goddess named Lisle could be. The fact that she'd just been addressed as mistress wasn't possible. It didn't seem conceivable that she was wed. She'd looked too young for such a thing, especially if it was to the elderly-sounding Angus fellow.

He eased his horse closer, turning a rock with a hoof. Langston heard it cascade onto the chipped rock path they'd used, before going over the other side and continuing down the hill. This Angus had chosen a well-placed hilltop to play his pipes. He'd chosen a good foggy morn, too, perfect for cover, and for muffling the skirl of his pipes. He'd been lax in not checking first with the auburn-haired woman, though.

"'Tis a foul morn to be out, Mistress MacHugh."

"I think it's quite lovely," came the instant reply.

"There's nothing lovely about it. There's not even enough span in front of a man's face to see if 'tis lovely or not."

"That's exactly as I like it. Keeps me from seeing certain things ... like vermin. Our hills are being overrun with such."

She was audacious and bold, Langston thought. He wondered if the captain would catch her meaning. With the tight tone of his next question, he knew the man had.

"Have you a reason for being out and about?"

"Is it illegal to take a walk now? I'd not heard that of the Crown's displeasure with us."

"Things change quickly at the king's court, Mistress."

"It's not enough that you take away our right to wear our own setts? Now you're taking away a morning stroll on Scottish soil?"

There was a long silence after her snide remark. Langston was at the back of the battalion. He started circling them. The sun was moving, the air was warming, and the mist was dispersing, making it easier to see the ground, and the amount of soldiers the MacHugh lass was facing. He admired her courage and audacity, even if it was a classic case of Highland bravado and stupidity.

"A stroll about the moors is one thing. The playing of pipes is another entirely. We heard pipes, and such a thing is illegal."

She laughed merrily. Langston's heart twinged with the sound. That was a new experience, and made him catch the reins up, stopping his horse.

"A woman doesn't play pipes, Captain. It would require more hot air than any woman possesses."

"We heard pipes."

"In Scotland's bogs and marshlands, beset by fog, it's easy to hear any number of things, Captain. Why, if you venture near Drumossie Moor, I'll wager you'd hear screams and groans if you're so inclined. Or so it's been said. I haven't tested it. I'm na' brave enough."

"Are you saying there was no piper?"

"I'm saying naught. I'd a bit of a brisk walk under my belt, enjoying the solitude and getting a good dose of fresh, mist-laden air, and for that I get accosted by a Highland regiment? You say you heard a piper? Well, I simply state it couldn't have been me."

The mist was slimming into fingers of opacity that were caressing the scene in front of him. The lass, Lisle, was atop a flat boulder, making her level with the man on horseback that she faced. She had her shoulders back, and her hands were on the belt on her hips. A MacHugh ... she was a MacHugh. Langston ran the information through his mind. There'd been MacHugh clan at Drumossie Moor, where the Battle of Culloden had been fought. There had been scores of them, all decked out in their red, black, and gold plaide ... all dead. They were all dead. Langston groaned softly.

"You saw no one else out here?"

"Dinna' you understand the word solitude, Captain?"

"Very well, actually. It's the gift we give prisoners of the Crown ... when they deserve such, that is."

Langston knew a threat when he heard one. She did, too. He had to give his grudging admiration to her, if she didn't have it already. She was brave. She tossed her hair over her shoulder, looked at the Captain levelly, and smiled. It didn't look to have much merriment to it.

"That is not what I've heard about your prisons," she replied.

"Are you ready to tell us where he went, then?"

"Who?" she asked.

"The piper."

She sighed audibly. "I must not be making sense. I saw nae one out this morn."

"No one?"

She shook her head slightly. "Nae one."

"You're certain?"

"Perhaps you should take your helmet and remove it from your ears, Captain. That way you'd not continually ask questions you've already received the answers to. It might improve your looks, too."

"We heard pipes."

His voice was telling of his nonamusement over her gibe. Langston didn't have to see it, although the sun finally rising over the mountain range behind her was making it easier to do so. It was also turning her hair a brilliant burnished copper sheen.

"Well, I heard naught. Now, allow me to pass. I've bread in my oven, and four daughters to see fed. Not to mention my retainers, my uncle, three frail aunts, and my servants, such as they are."

"Answer me first."

She has four daughters? Langston repeated it to himself in disbelief. Impossible. She looked about sixteen ... maybe seventeen.

"You Scots are forever for the doing, before the thinking. That's the reason, you know."

She didn't act like she wanted to ask it, but her curiosity got the better of her. "The reason for what?" she asked finally.

"Your loss at battle, your loss of a country, and your loss of the right of your men to wear their own ... skirts."

"They're not skirts!" she replied angrily, giving Barton what he wanted.

"Where are the pipes, Mistress?" The captain's voice was jovial.

"I saw nae pipes, nor a body fit enough to play them!"

"Then what was it you were about?"

"She was meeting with me." Langston said it loudly, and moved his horse through the mounted troops. They parted easily. It wasn't due to anything other than surprise and the size of his horse. He didn't bother with the why of it. He always surprised people, and he'd chosen the stallion, Saladin, for just such a reason. She moved her head slightly, and Langston caught a breath as their gazes met. Crystal-clear, sky-blue eyes met his, then dropped to the vicinity of his chest. He tried to tell himself that at least she'd looked at him this time.

"Lord Monteith." Captain Barton announced it.

"Nae," she whispered as she heard the name. He hoped she wasn't bullheaded enough to disclaim him.

"You have a reason for disturbing us?" Langston asked, arriving finally at the boulder. Captain Barton had moved his entire line back more than two horse lengths as he approached. Although it was expected, it was still gratifying.

"The mistress-"

"I already told you. She's meeting with me. We've business."

"Business?" the captain queried.

"Of course. Why else?"

The captain cleared his throat. It was a nervous gesture, confirmed by the accompanying finger he used to pull his collar from his neck. "You conduct business on a foggy morn? Out on the moors? In sight of any number of Scot marksmen?" "I'm dealing with a member of the MacHugh clan, Captain. There's no place better," Langston replied easily. "I'm not exactly welcome at their table at present, and you already know Highlanders wouldn't be about with a weapon to shoot at me. It's as illegal as the playing of our pipes and the wearing of our ... skirts."

His remarks got him a bit of amusement from the ranks, and he sensed them relaxing. The woman was silent. She could be in shock. He knew why. She wouldn't want to be within sighting distance of a member of Clan Monteith, let alone being asked to agree that they were meeting. It was almost amusing.

"This is true, Mistress?" The captain asked it as a matter of course. He didn't really need an answer. Monteith's word was enough. His leanings were known. He was loyal to the English Crown. His lips twisted.

"I-"

They all heard the pistol shot, interrupting her words.

Langston saw her whiten. It was especially noticeable with how wide her eyes went as they met his again. He put out his hand and she took it, surprising him almost as much as how much thigh she was showing as she hitched up her skirt and launched herself onto Saladin's flanks.

"Ride! The bog!" She hissed the words into his ear. At least he thought that was what she hissed. It could have been anything, for the touch of her breath on his neck gave him a feeling he'd rather forgo.

He tightened his knees and Saladin obeyed. If she was impressed, he didn't note that she showed it.

"You shouldn't have given him the pistol," he remarked over his shoulder as they covered the rock-strewn grass, easily outdistancing the troop. It wasn't entirely due to superior horsemanship or horseflesh. It was because the Highland Rangers wouldn't move unless, and until, they were ordered to do so. The captain was woefully late in giving the order, Langston thought.

"You're ... him," she said.

"Oh, I am definitely a him," he answered.

"No, I mean ... you're him," she replied, emphasizing the word this time.

Langston chuckled, and the movement made her hands slip from where they were clasped about him. She refastened them and slid closer, pulling herself more securely to him. He was grateful he'd worn the black, woolen jacket atop a like-colored, knitted tunic. It made it easier to feel her. Actually, he amended to himself, it made it easier to imagine he was feeling her.

"Thank you for clearing that up," he said, tossing the words at her." Now, hush! We've got to find him a-fore they do. It's not going to be easy, either."

"But-you're the Monteith," she answered him.

He grabbed at her entwined hands before she had a chance to act on her knowledge. "Aye. Now hold to me, I'm putting Saladin through his paces. He's very impressive. Watch. Feel."

The Arabian stallion was more than impressive. He was horseflesh with wings. The bog was upon them before another word, and then Langston had to put his attention to speed without breaking one of Saladin's legs. It wasn't easy, and she appeared to know it as they dodged and ducked branches and decay and bits of moss hanging from outstretched tree limbs.

Through it all, the woman clinging to his back moved with him, making herself an extension of the horse, just as he was. Langston gave Saladin his head more often than he controlled it. Not because he wanted to, but because the thought of her breasts shoved against his back, the feel of her fingers clinging to his abdomen, and the idea that her bare thighs were pushing against the backs of his, was starting to interfere with his horsemanship. He'd never thought that possible before.

Mud splashed with each step, coating his boots, and flecking the black leather of his trousers, too. Langston ignored it. The stallion's heaving breaths were transferring to him, making his own chest fill and empty with the expenditure of energy and strength. The woman was doing the same movement at his back, and the thought of that was driving him mildly insane.

"Angus!"

She was pointing, accompanying a voice that he barely heard. Langston shook his head to clear it, and pulled on the reins before they ran over the small, wizened-looking fellow. She was off before he was, and bending over the fellow at Saladin's hooves. If that was her husband, she'd wed poorly, he decided.

"Forgive me, lass. I dropped it."

"Where?"

"In the bog. Over yonder."

"Not that! Where are you hurt?"

"I'm na' hurt."

"But we heard a shot."

"The pistol fell. It discharged. You should na' run about with a loaded weapon like that, lassie. Think of the consequences."

"Angus MacHugh, I'm going to take the entire verse of Saint John and screech it into your ear! Do you hear me?"

"I believe everyone can hear you," Langston replied dryly. "Including the Highland Rangers we just escaped."

"Sweet Lord! What are you doing with the Monteith? Devil spawn! Get back! And take your devil horse with you!" The old man leapt to his feet and spat toward Langston.

He was spry for his age, whatever that might be, Langston thought.

"You ken what this means to us ... to me?" The man called Angus was pointing at the woman, and then at him, and his voice warbled as he asked it.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Heat of the Knight by Jackie Ivie Copyright © 2007 by Jacquelyn Ivie Goforth. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heat of the Knight...not so hot

    Down and out Lisle MacHugh is in yet another quandary. She's lost her husband of an indefined, short-period of time at Culloden; she's raising her ungrateful step-daughters in overall poverty with the remaining clansmen and women of Clan MacHugh, which according basic math, numbers exactly three people excluding herself and step-daughters; and the roof of her castle literally comes crashing in on her. Enter Langstan Leed Monteith, aka the Black Monteith. Langston has lots of gold which Lisle is seriously lacking, a reputation as a traitor in Scotland based upon his absence at Culloden and a healthy dose of attraction to Lisle. Of course, Langstan offers for her. The destitute MacHughs promptly toss her to Monteith as fast as the bag of gold can hit the war-torn stones.

    Lisle is a stubborn, independent and spirited character in the beginning who, once married to Monteith, becomes a stale pin cushion. Her only exhibition of her character after the marriage occurs when she tells Monteith's numerous servants to "get out". The explanations in Lisle's complete change in character is flimsy at best. The pages are heaped with exploits of her trying to figure out what Monteith is doing with his castle, men and money.

    Monteith is a consistent character whose secrets are difficult to discern. However, as the story progresses, little explanation or confirmation is forthcoming, either from him, the other characters nor Lisle's childish attempts at being a spy in her own household.

    The relationship between the main characters developes but never really ripens. The physical scenes between the parties are obtuse and have a rushed, glossed over feel; satisfaction finds the characters but you don't see or feel how they got there. The underlying post-Culloden plot falls flat and is anything but wrapped up in the end. Bonnie Prince Charlie seemingly disappears under Monteith's nose; you don't know where or why he went and how Monteith is connected to him, except to say that he is supporting the New Pretender. Overall, the novel has promise which fails miserably to deliver. I so liked Lisle's character in the beginning and wanted her to keep challenging Monteith; demand answers from him, have fights with him, take possession of the household as she should have and which would have kept in line with her character. I enjoyed Monteith's mystic and was looking forward to the answers and an interesting summation which I am still trying to figure out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2007

    Heat of the Knight

    Lord Langston Monteith was a man despised by all. When the majority of honest hard working Scotsmen had fought and died honorably at Culloden. Lord Monteith had been a world away pirating and getting rich. Then, after the battle, he returned to buy up as much land as possible and indenture the remaining widows and old men. Culloden had been cruel to Lisle MacHugh. It left her a widow, the sole guardian of her step-daughters, and provider to what remained of the MacHugh clan. It was a battle that she couldn¿t possibly win. The evil Lord Monteith had her right where he wanted her. Unfortunately, the despicable man didn¿t want the MacHugh land, he wanted a wife. What¿s more, Lisle finds that the MacHugh clan more than willing to turn on her and sell her out for whatever gold they can get. What choice does she have? Heat of the Knight is a classic story set in the Highlands of Scotland in the mid 1700¿s. Wonderfully written. Passionate and fiery. Touching and inspiring.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    An excellent read.

    An excellent read.

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  • Posted February 3, 2011

    Almost to the End

    Overall this was a great book that had a fun romance story. He was every bit the mysterious man you want and she was the spitfire who told it like it was. But then the whole book fell apart at the last chapter. It ended without any romantic resolution. Before the epilogue she was pissed and in the epilogue things were great. Everything leading up to this was fantastic. It made your heart clench but you didn't wail and cry. The imagery was pretty great too, but again it collapsed on the last chapter. I would suggest reading it but you might was to wait for that next gift card. I am going to have to be very wary of all other books written by this author.

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Could have been better:(

    I bought this book thinking it would entertain me for the afternoon, however it was a disappointment! It start's off with promise but as you get into it, it stalls. The story line jumps all over the place. I had a hard time keeping up with characters. It was poorly wriiten and i do not recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2008

    SO CONFUSING

    was NOT a easy book to stay with, the character keeps repeating herself so much its annoying, very dissapointed, i loved her other book tender is the knight which made me start to read her books

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    Posted June 26, 2011

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    Posted December 28, 2010

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