From the Publisher
"Talented Forester has constructed a highly entertaining debut romantic comedy of miscommunications and misunderstandings. " - Publishers Weekly
"A sweet story." - Night Owl Romance
"The Highlander's Sword will keep you on the edge of your seat and unable to stop turning the page until the very end." - Romance Junkies
"A surprisingly radiant gem from a debut author." - Yankee Romance Reviewers
"I completely enjoyed the clever events... well-written and interesting. " - Fresh Fiction
"You get the romance, the tension, and a story you'll enjoy from beginning to end. " - The Long and Short of It
"The budding romance between Aila and MacLaren is beyond sweet and seeing them not only get to know each other more but also themselves was fun to read." - The Book Lush
"A lighthearted page-turner. I had a hard time putting the book down. " - Anna's Book Blog
"A great new addition to the romance genre." - My Overstuffed Bookshelf
"Romance, humor and a Highland mystery all rolled into one. I'm looking forward to reading more from Amanda Forester. " - Wendy's Minding Spot
Against the backdrop of 14th-century Scotland, the talented Forester has constructed a highly entertaining debut romantic comedy of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Highlander Sir Padyn MacLaren stopped trusting women after his French fiancée betrayed him to the English, but when he agrees to marry Lady Aila Graham and guard her clan and Dundaff Castle, he discovers that some women have true honor. Strong-willed Aila has spent her whole life preparing to be a nun, but she gives it up to protect her clan. As Aila and MacLaren humorously struggle to find a time and place to consummate their marriage, they learn to trust each other, uncover a traitor, and discover the joys of love. Though the long-awaited sex scene doesn’t justify the buildup, entertaining secondary characters and plenty of intrigue keep the reader cheering all the way. (Mar.)
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from the Prologue
Gascony, France, 1346
If they caught him, he would hang. Or perhaps, he mused with the detached calm born of shock, he would be eviscerated first, then hung. Best not to find out. Sir Padyn MacLaren ran through a throng of shocked ladies-in-waiting to the tower stairs before his fiancée screamed in fury. Or rather his ex-fiancée, since the lovely Countess Marguerite had just made it clear she intended to marry Gerard de Marsan. The same de Marsan who had tried to slit MacLaren's throat and now lay on the floor-dead. Soldiers from the floor below rushed up the stairs to their lady's aid. MacLaren wiped the blood from his eyes. The slash down his face was bleeding something fierce, but he gave it no mind. He needed to get past the guards, or his bloodied face would be the least of his troubles.
"Hurry!" MacLaren said to the first man up the stairs. "Gerard de Marsan has attacked the countess.
To her, quick! I will fetch the surgeon." The guards ran past him, and he dashed out the inner gate before the alarm sounded and soldiers poured from their barracks. MacLaren raced toward the outer gate, but the portcullis crashed down before him. Turning toward the stone staircase that led to the wall walk, he ran to a young guard who looked at him, unsure.
"Who attacks us?" MacLaren asked the young man, who stammered in response.
"Go ask your captain. I'll keep watch." MacLaren ran past the guard up the stairs to the battlement.
Without stopping to think or break his stride, he ran through the battlements over the embrasure and into the air. For a moment he was suspended in time, free without the ground beneath him, then he plunged down the sheer drop to the moat below. The shock of cold water and muck robbed him of breath, and he struggled to the other side. MacLaren scrambled up the embankment and crawled into the brush, bolts flying toward him from the castle walls. Rushing through the thicket to the road, he pulled a surprised merchant from his horse and rode for cover.
MacLaren raced from Montois castle without looking back. Along the road, a dusty figure of a knight rode toward him. MacLaren drew his sword and charged. The knight reined in and threw up his visor. It was Chaumont, his second in command.
"Marguerite has betrayed us to the English,"
Chaumont called. "She told me that herself," growled MacLaren, pointing to his cut face. "We need to get to camp and warn the men, or they will all be put to the sword."
Chaumont nodded. "I got word of her betrayal shortly after you rode for Montois and commanded the men to pull back to Agen."
"Ye've done well." MacLaren exhaled.
"Indeed I have. Nice of you to notice."
The thundering riders approaching cut short their conversation. They abandoned the road in favor of an overland route through dense forested terrain in which they hoped to lose the pursuing soldiers. They traveled many hours into the night, until they finally felt safe enough to stop by the shores of a small black lake.
"You need tending, my friend," said Chaumont.
"Have ye a needle?" MacLaren asked grimly. MacLaren stood without flinching while Chaumont stitched the gash on his face. MacLaren focused on the dark water before him, unbidden memories of the day's events washing over him. He had faced the English to protect Marguerite before they could reach her castle at Montois. The hard-fought victory had been won, but his closest kin had been lost.
"Patrick died for nothing." MacLaren's voice shook as he struggled with the words. "What an utter fool I was, trusting that deceitful wench. I should be dead on that field, not him." MacLaren clenched his jaw, holding back emotion. "There is nothing left for me here. 'Tis time I take my men and go back where I belong."
"What is it like, this land of your birth?" asked Chaumont, finishing his work.
MacLaren closed his eyes, remembering.
"Balquidder. 'Tis a wild place, full of wind and rain.
It can be a hard life at times, but I'm never more alive than when I'm in the Highlands." He turned to the young French knight. "Your friendship is the only thing I will regret to leave behind."
Chaumont looked at him intently. "Take me with you."
"Your place is here."
Chaumont shook his head. "If you had not given me a chance, I would still be some rich man's squire, polishing his armor and servicing his wife. I have served you in times of war, and I will serve you still, if you will have me."
"It would be an honor." MacLaren clasped his hand to the Frenchman's shoulder. They embraced the way men do, slapping each other hard on the back.
"Urgh!" Chaumont made a face. "You smell like the devil's arse."
"I swam through the moat to escape the castle. Now I know exactly where the garderobes empty into." MacLaren turned back to look over the lake.
"That water was like Marguerite, a beautiful exterior, but underneath, naught but a filthy sewer."
The words were barely out of his mouth before he was pushed hard and he fell gracelessly into the cold clean lake. He came up sputtering, only to hear the Frenchman's laughter. MacLaren bathed in the cold water and emerged the better for it. He pulled himself swiftly up the bank and tossed Chaumont into the water for good measure. It was time to go home.
"Step along now," MacLaren called to his soggy companion. "Come to the Highlands, my friend, and we shall feast like heroes."