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The Highland Groom

The Highland Groom

4.5 4
by Sarah Gabriel

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Her time is nearly out . . .

To claim her inheritance, Fiona MacCarran must marry a wealthy Highlander, and soon. Arriving in the misty Highlands as a schoolteacher, she despairs of finding an acceptable groom . . . until she meets Dougal MacGregor. She knows he's just a smuggler, and yet when the handsome laird pulls her into his arms, she forgets about


Her time is nearly out . . .

To claim her inheritance, Fiona MacCarran must marry a wealthy Highlander, and soon. Arriving in the misty Highlands as a schoolteacher, she despairs of finding an acceptable groom . . . until she meets Dougal MacGregor. She knows he's just a smuggler, and yet when the handsome laird pulls her into his arms, she forgets about obligations, the law, and finding that perfect Highland groom.

He must save his clan . . .

Moving his finest whiskey—and fast—is the only way Dougal can protect his people. It should be simple, but nothing is easy with Fiona MacCarran around. He cannot allow himself to be distracted by the sensual schoolmistress. After all, a Highland rebel and a law-abiding lass could never have a future together . . . or could they? Soon they are caught in a battle between honor and desire, with the only victory lying in sweet, sweet surrender.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.20(d)

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The Highland Groom

Chapter One

April 1823
Loch Katrine, Scotland

"Did you hear that?" Patrick MacCarran glanced up the long Highland slope as a gust of wind stirred the tail of his dark frock coat, and sent a few loose pebbles scattering. "I'm sure I heard footsteps over the rocks somewhere above us."

Standing beside her brother, Fiona turned to look around and then up the steep hillside toward the towering mountain, with its limestone cliffs and dark scrub. "Bogles," she said. "Haunts or fairies. Or small stones shifting along the slopes in the wind."

"Or smugglers," he muttered. "Had I known we would climb so far into these hills in search of your rocks, I would have brought a firearm."

"I thought smugglers only came out at night."

"They're men, not bats," Patrick drawled. He walked away, looking around as if he suspected criminals to be hiding behind the boulders and tall trees farther up the hillside.

Fiona turned, looking down the slope toward Loch Katrine, which edged one side of Glen Kinloch, where she intended to stay for a couple of months as a teacher in the small local school. From her vantage point, the smooth surface of the loch was misted over, and fog drifted in patches over the hills that nudged against its shores. Here on the upper end of the long loch, the hills were remote and rugged; where the small glen met the loch, the landscape was beautifully wild. Fiona wanted to linger and explore further, but she knew that Patrick had scant patience left after the lengthy afternoon stroll they had taken.

And he seemed distinctly uneasy. She frowned, watching him. For the lastfew months, her youngest brother had acted as an excise officer at the distant southern end of Loch Katrine; now he seemed alert to trouble everywhere he went. Being a government agent in the Highlands had matured his character quickly, though she was grateful that his true lighthearted nature remained.

"Surely it was the wind, Patrick," she said.

"Or free traders evading customs officers such as myself," he said, inclining his head. "Fiona, are you ready to go back yet?" Sounding hopeful, he picked up her canvas knapsack to carry it.

"Not quite. I've found some excellent trilobites here, and I want to keep looking." A cool updraft lifted the ribbons of her gray bonnet and made the skirt of her gray woolen gown, pale as the mist, dance over her ankles and the tops of her leather boots. Raising a gloved hand powdered with dirt and rock dust—her cheeks and nose were no doubt dusty, too, but she did not mind—Fiona turned to look at the Highland slopes that surrounded them. The hillsides were brown and dreary, their spring greening only just begun, and the air had a wintry nip. Another gust of wind made her shiver slightly, and she glanced around. "This place is so . . . remote."

"Exactly. And that makes it is easier for smugglers to slip cargoes of their whisky through the hills down to the lochs and rivers," he answered. "I have said this before, but I do wish you had not been so eager to stay in this glen for the next few weeks. There are rogues about, I guarantee it."

"I have promised to teach here," she said. "And I intend to fulfill my part of the conditions in Grandmother's will."

"Those clauses may prove the bane of all of us, but for James," Patrick said. "Come back with me—you could be back in Edinburgh by week's end. You know Eldin would lend his barouche if you needed it. Our cousin has always been fond of you, when he seems to dislike most people."

"I do not need his charity or his barouche. I will stay until summer with Mrs. MacIan."

"Mary MacIan can barely see or hear, talks endlessly, and drinks whisky like a man."

Fiona laughed. "It is acceptable for Highland women to take a dram with the men, or even on their own, as she does. I think she is a delightful sort, and quite unique."

"She's no fit companion if you mean to walk the hills around here. Promise me you will not wander about alone. There are rascals about in this godforsaken place."

"As an officer of the government now, you suspect a smuggler at every corner."

"Not without reason," he said quietly. "I am concerned for your welfare."

"As I am for yours," she pointed out. "I know you were bored as a Signet clerk in Edinburgh, and that you were willing to take the risks when you were appointed as a customs officer along Loch Katrine. Sir Walter Scott confided to me, the last time we had supper together with Aunt Rankin before I came north, that the work of pursuing smugglers is stressful and dangerous," she went on. "And so as your older sister, I worry on your behalf."

"But I rather like the adventure of it. I've learned a good deal in my apprenticeship months here. And the region is populated with rogues, remember that." He frowned at her. "In the ten miles or so of Loch Katrine's length, from the southern end up to this more remote area near Glengyle, most families run private stills."

"Anyone can produce whisky, up to five hundred gallons or so; you told me so yourself. When we were small in Perthshire, there was a private distillery on the home farm to supply the estate. Father very much liked the brew they made," she said, glancing away as she made a rare reference to their father, who had passed away years ago, along with their mother, leaving the four children—the twins, Fiona and James, and the younger boys, William and Patrick—in the care of their relatives, as well as the overbearing guardianship of Lady Rankin, their great-aunt, on whose estate Fiona presently lived, just outside Edinburgh.

taxes posed by the Crown."

The Highland Groom. Copyright � by Sarah Gabriel. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sarah Gabriel, a former college instructor, has a Master's degree and most of a Ph.D. in medieval studies. An experienced writer and historian, her fascination for all things Scottish and her love of the romance genre led her to write historical romance. Of Scottish and Irish descent, Sarah has traveled extensively in Scotland and England. She has studied art, healing therapies, music, martial arts, archery, and falconry, and hopes to include all of those interests (and more) in future stories. She lives in Maryland with her husband, three sons, and a Westie.

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Highland Groom 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1823 Fiona MacCarran understands her late grandmother's strange will that she must meet if she is to inherit, but also believes she will not be able to meet the conditions. Her grandma wants schoolteacher Fiona to marry a wealthy Scotsman so that she leave the classroom and paint portraits of fairy.

Fiona is attracted to laird of Kinloch, whose children she teaches. However, she knows Dougal MacGregor may be a hunk but is not remotely affluent; in fact she believes he is a whiskey smuggler avoiding the excise men like her cousin.

Dougal feels drunk with desire for Fiona, but knows he must ignore his feelings. He fears what she can learn about his clan's "fairy whiskey", especially the smuggling activity that could if revealed could endanger his villagers. However, when the locals get in trouble, Fiona joins Dougal rather than her blood kin to help keep them safe.

From almost the beginning readers will see how Fiona thinks differently than her brother Patrick when they rock climb and hear a noise that she says is fairies while he insists it is smugglers. That sets the tone of a whimsical engaging historical romance with a wee bit of the paranormal and some late suspense. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the caring laird sees the beauty through the highland mists and never slows down as they fall in love while she wonders if her hunch is right that he leads a smuggling operation. THE HIGHLAND GROOM is a winner as it asks whether doing the right thing to care for the locals should supersede the law that has wider applications.

Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jjmachshev More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for queuemyreview.com; book release Jan09

Ah, magic in the highlands! Yes, I was happy to read Sarah Gabriel¿s ¿The Highland Groom¿ as soon as I realized it combined two things I love to read about¿magic and men in kilts! Who knows why the thought of men in skirts (yes, I KNOW they aren¿t skirts but rather verra manly garb!) is such a turn-on. And when he¿s a rogue with a hint of fae blood¿well, how can you go wrong?

Fiona is in a fix. In order for Fiona and her brothers to claim their inheritance, she must fulfill her portion of her grandmother¿s will. She must marry a wealthy highland lord and find real fairies to draw for a brother¿s book. Well, she can¿t do either of these things without actually being IN the highlands, so Fiona gladly volunteers to be a schoolteacher for a remote Highland glen. It only takes a few days for Fiona to fall in love with the beauty of her temporary home, even if she does have to keep an eye out for all those whiskey smugglers her brother keeps warning her about. And of course the most handsome, compelling man she meets in her new home just happens to be the local Laird¿and a smuggler!

Dougal is many things¿Laird, smuggler, uncle, brewer. He¿s also determined to regain the clan lands his father was forced to mortgage to keep his people fed during the bad times. The quickest way to do this? Smuggle the fine Highland whiskey his clan has been making and aging for years! So the absolute last thing he should be thinking about is the new schoolteacher¿especially since her brother is currently working as a local customs officer!

What began as a promising plot for a delightful historical romance began to lose coherence about one third of the way through the book. The further I read, the more confused I became. The hero and heroine acted in ways that (for me) defied logic and made absolutely no sense. I can handle instant attraction¿but for a woman of that time to allow those kinds of `liberties¿ so quickly would have been `beyond the pale¿. Additionally, the whole fairy magic piece of the puzzle was never (one again, in my opinion) fully fleshed out. It felt more like something that was forced into the plot and could have been totally left out without too much of an impact. Again and again, there were conversations and actions by main and secondary characters that I just didn¿t see the reasons for¿and that always bugs me.

For the preceding reasons, ¿The Highland Groom¿ just wasn¿t a good read for me. While I have no problems overlooking an occasional plot stutter, repeat offenses begin to irritate me exponentially. So I¿ll just have to consider this particular Sarah Gabriel story one I won¿t be sorry to finish.