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It Begins As A Ploy. . .
When Raelynd Schellden and her sister are caught in the stables with the notorious McTiernay twins, her father sees not scandal, but opportunity. The future of his clan is uncertain, and a ...
It Begins As A Ploy. . .
When Raelynd Schellden and her sister are caught in the stables with the notorious McTiernay twins, her father sees not scandal, but opportunity. The future of his clan is uncertain, and a double engagement-even under false pretenses-will lend security to his people and protect his beloved daughters from power-mad fools.
And Becomes A Pleasure
But Raelynd's designated intended interests her far less than his quietly powerful brother Crevan, a man born to lead. Though bound by honor and committed to his sworn duty, Crevan cannot resist a taste of Raelynd's crimson lips when offered-and then another and another-until the unlikely couple is entangled in both a public deception and each other's hearts. . .
Praise for Michele Sinclair
"Once again Sinclair demonstrates her ability to touch readers' minds and hearts, keeping them enthralled." -Romantic Times on Desiring the Highlander
"Sensual and humorous, a winning combination that everyone can enjoy." -Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author on The Highlander's Bride
Raelynd studied her target one last time and bolstered her resolve, remembering her sister's fateful questions nearly two months ago. Really? Only one time? Meriel's shock had been genuine. It, however, paled compared to Raelynd's own upon discovering the level of knowledge her supposedly shy and timid sister had of men. You really should try it, Lyndee. It passes the time and if he knows what he's doing, it can be pleasurable and ... Raelynd had stopped listening. Pleasurable? Kissing! The one time she had endured the diversion, it had not been by choice and it had been far from pleasant, let alone enjoyable. She could imagine only one man who might prove to be the exception.
Five years ago, she had encountered him by chance and only for a few minutes, not realizing it would be four more years before she would have another opportunity. But earlier this year he and his brother had agreed to spend several months helping her father train new recruits in an effort to recuperate from some severe losses in battle. Unfortunately, the opportunities she had been hoping for arose with the wrong brother.
Crevan had spent much of the summer months in the training fields, but altogether too often, he found reasons to be closer to Caireoch Castle, regularly retreating in the Great Hall where she preferred to direct servants and give out instructions. The man had found an endless number of things to fault her with, and never failed to lecture her in the most irritating, overbearing, and condescending way. His brother Craig was the opposite. Though she had tried time and again to stumble across his company in a seemingly accidental way, the man had somehow kept his distance, preferring to eat and sleep outside with the men or accepting shelter and hospitality from one of the married soldiers.
Today, Raelynd was determined for that to change. Not only was she tired of waiting and impatient to learn the secrets her sister possessed, Craig was planning to leave next morning.
Harvest had arrived and with it the McTiernays' assistance to her father ended. Tomorrow both brothers would be gone. That made the timing perfect to test Meriel's proclamation. Based on his notorious stance against committed relationships, she was sure Craig would have no sudden intentions of proposing even if Meriel was correct and the kiss was found to be enjoyable by both of them. Besides, everyone knew the McTiernay brothers were good at everything—good fighters, excellent strategists, and undeniably good looking, so they had to be experienced with women. So, if she was going to do the unthinkable and kiss a man, it was going to be with one of the most desirable men available.
Swallowing, Raelynd moved until she was noticeably in front of the crowd and prayed her idea would work. Infatuated young soldiers had chased after her since she could remember and she was an expert at getting them to keep their distance. Trying to get their attention, however, was something altogether foreign.
Craig could feel the strain in his shoulders as he pushed even farther to lean back. He gave a final twist and then threw, letting the spear slide through his fingertips just a moment too late, shortening its arc and intended distance. "Mo Chreach," he muttered under his breath as he saw it fall just short of Hamish's pike.
He held up a hand to the cheering crowd who had come to witness the impromptu games Laird Schellden was holding to celebrate this year's bountiful harvest. Walking up to the long pike, Craig yanked it out of the ground with frustration. Just as he had been releasing his grip, a distinct head of semidark blond hair knelt down to pick something up, practically begging his eyes to stare at her cleavage.
Winding up for a second throw, Craig paused, twisted, and again the same figure dressed in bright blue moved into his line of sight. Her pale hand was dabbing a small white cloth along perfect breasts, as if to cool them from the nonexistent heat. If he didn't know better, he would guess Raelynd Schellden intended for him to miss. Hesitating for just another moment, Craig threw the heavy weapon into the air, this time uncaring of its distance.
As expected, the spear fell significantly short of its target. The crowd snickered and Craig knew it paled to the torment he would undoubtedly receive from his brothers for blundering an event he should have easily won. But he didn't care. Brotherly harassment was a small sacrifice to discover if Lady Schellden's lips were as soft and welcoming as they had looked from a distance. Even better, there would be no expectations afterward.
Everyone knew how the Schellden twins felt about marriage—completely disinterested. They were independent spirits who refused to be pinned down. At twenty-six years of age, Craig not only understood the feeling, but admired it. Freedom was one of life's gifts he was not ready to give up. Not even for a blond beauty.
Ignoring the cackles, Craig headed away from the fields and the boisterous crowd toward the nearly vacated castle grounds. As he suspected, a wisp of blue turned and followed him as he walked by. He smiled. He had not misunderstood.
Not more than ten steps inside Caireoch's nearly abandoned bailey, Craig deftly swiveled behind a wagon and grabbed Raelynd's wrist as he ducked into the shadows. He peered into her hazel eyes, verifying his assumptions were still accurate. Curiosity, anticipation, and willingness shined back at him.
"Kiss me, Craig McTiernay," Raelynd whispered.
"Aye, Raelynd. I intend to."
Raelynd pulled back slightly at the mention of her given name. "Call me Lyndee."
Craig chuckled. He remembered hearing her father grumble something about her trying to change her name. Fact was her parents had believed they would never have children. To be blessed with twins had been a miracle. Knowing a son would never follow, Raelynd had been named for her father, Rae Schellden. Thankfully, she looked nothing like him. Pretty, with long dark gold hair and a willowy frame like her mother, she possessed only her father's sparkling green and gold flecked eyes that dared anyone to stop her from seeking what she wanted in life. And Raelynd had decided she wanted him. Luckily, his time in service to her father had ended that morning, freeing him to enjoy the invitation.
"I think I'll just kiss you instead," he softly murmured into her ear.
As his heated breath caressed her ear, Raelynd felt a shiver run down her spine. This, she thought, this is what I have been waiting for.
His fingers closed around the back of her head and he leisurely brought his mouth down to hers. Raelynd's breath caught in her throat. His lips were warm, soft and surprisingly agreeable. Perhaps Meriel was right.
Raelynd felt his lips move against her own and she mirrored the action, waiting for the burst of emotion that was supposed to accompany the experience.
Inwardly she sighed with disappointment. At least it wasn't completely unpleasant.
Craig's arms were strong and large and rather than making her feel confined and pinned in, they were somewhat comforting. Perhaps Meriel was right. It wasn't such a bad way to pass the time.
Then his mouth released hers so he could move down and nibble at her bottom lip. It occurred to her that Craig might actually want her to open her mouth. Just before a wave of panic hit her, someone nearby shouted across the bailey. Cool air immediately replaced the spot where Craig's lips had been.
He peered around the back of the wagon and said, "Come on. I know somewhere that should provide us several hours of privacy."
Before Raelynd could either agree or disagree, her hand was clasped in his and she was scurrying behind him, keeping out of sight until they reached the stables. Before anyone saw them together, he had opened and closed the doors, closeting them inside.
Just as Craig had predicted, the stables were empty. "How did you know no one would be here?"
Craig grinned. "The race," he replied.
Like all the McTiernays, he had thick dark brown hair, which he wore too short to tie back but long enough to reveal the natural wave it possessed. His eyes were a rich blue that twinkled when he was happy. Large and strong, he was incredibly good looking.
Raelynd scuffed one foot on the ground, trying not to act nervous. Everyone was at the race. Even the stable masters and their young helpers had left to assist with the horses and their owners. Her black mare was practically the only horse left in the stables. "I wanted to ride in it."
"The race? You?"
"Um, I've seen your sister ride. Not a good idea."
Raelynd suppressed a huff. At least Craig had not said that she was a girl and therefore unable to possess the necessary skills to ride. "I am not my sister. Meriel doesn't like to ride. She thinks it's dirty and uncomfortable."
Unexpectedly Craig grabbed her waist and twirled her around in the air. "She's right."
Just as Raelynd was about to argue, he let go, plopping her onto a bed of clean hay. He fell down beside her and pulled her body close to his and resumed kissing her lips. He began to deepen the kiss and this time she resisted.
"It's all right. I promise I won't let it go too far, Lyndee. I am not about to do anything that will force us into something we both don't want."
Raelynd ordered her body to relax. She had wanted to kiss Craig and she was finally able to more than achieve that goal. Unfortunately, it was not until now that she realized she really did not know how. "I'm glad about that. I just—" But before she could finish, several pieces of hay fell down onto her face and into her mouth, causing her to sputter. Looking up, she saw her nemesis staring down at her.
"Either get busy or be quiet," came the velvety command.
Crevan McTiernay! Of all the people, it would have to be him, here, in the stables, spying on them. For the past couple of months, whenever she had sought out Craig, she would find Crevan instead. It seemed that he practically lived in the Great Hall for he was always there whenever she came in, ready to scold, correct, and patronize whenever and however possible. Even at night, he would come to dinner and spend hours debating her skills in running the castle until all others had left the room. The themes to his speeches were all the same—that she had great potential, but it was a shame that she chose not to use it.
Well, right now, here in the stables, kissing Craig, was the one time she absolutely did not want his opinion. She already knew she was lousy at the pastime, but it was also the one thing she had done Crevan had yet to insult. And that was only because it was the single area of her life of which he had no knowledge ... and never would.
Raelynd removed a piece of straw from her hair and glared up at him. "Why? Are we interrupting your endeavors to practice wrestling?" she taunted, referencing Crevan's poor performance in the sport earlier that day during the games.
"Be careful, Raelynd."
That was the last insult. Only this morning, he had been telling her that her attempt to get everyone to call her Lyndee was juvenile and he refused to participate in it. She had argued that her given name was too masculine. Ignoring her logic altogether, he had told her to resign her scheming for his brother and go pretend to be Lady of Caireoch by scolding some undeserving servant.
"Why should I be careful?" she goaded.
"Because it was me for whom he failed that particular wrestling match," came an altogether too familiar feminine voice.
"Meriel!" Raelynd shouted, jumping to her feet to peer over the stable wall. She ignored Craig, who was now leaning back on the hay listening and enjoying himself as the argument unfolded. It was rare to hear Crevan talk, let alone raise his voice and quarrel. And practically unheard of for his brother to do so with a woman.
"What?" Meriel asked ingenuously as she stared up innocently, blinking her eyes. Her face was identical to Raelynd's, so much so that if they wanted to they could change roles and deceive almost everyone. But at any normal given moment, their personalities were so unique and equally strong, they were unmistakably distinct individuals. "We were doing nothing you weren't planning on doing."
A chuckle from behind Raelynd filled the air as Craig's voice floated upward. "Well, you must not have been having as much fun as we were just starting to have; otherwise, you would have been too busy to interrupt us. You a little out of practice there, brother?"
Arching a triumphant eyebrow, Raelynd crossed her arms and grinned at Crevan. He returned the mischievous smile and bestowed a low bow. During which, he seized a large amount of straw in his hand, stood up, and with one adroit move, threw it in her direction.
Raelynd squealed and Craig, also getting a face full of hay, joined her as she dashed around the stall to return the favor. Seconds later, the four of them were racing around the stables as wads of straw went flying through the air. Anger was replaced by laughter as all four tossed and shoved hay onto and into any opening presented. Crevan was a mess. Raelynd was a disaster, and neither could remember having a better time in recent memory.
Rae Schellden stared down at the nearly empty courtyard, his hazel eyes focused on the closed stable doors. He stroked his short white beard, which matched the rest of his—at one time black—hair. The last of the games were taking place now out in the fields and the horse race would begin at any moment if it had not already started. He should be out there, encouraging the participants and celebrating with the victors, but he had a serious problem. One that he had been struggling to resolve until just a few minutes ago when the solution fell into his lap.
"I got another message from the king."
Conor, the only other person in the Great Hall, said nothing. The eldest of the McTiernays and laird to their formidable clan, he was Schellden's greatest ally and in many ways, a close friend despite their age difference. Conor was intelligent, decisive, and rarely offered advice without thought and some basis of reasoning. As a result, Rae trusted the young laird's counsel.
"My nephew, Cyric, is on his way north and will be here either tomorrow or the day after."
"You have little time then," Conor finally said, impassively stating facts they both knew.
"Then you agree with my plan."
Conor pulled out a chair and sat down with a noncommittal shrug. "I find it hard to comment. You are meddling in people's lives."
Schellden shook his head, but continued his gaze at the stable doors. "Not meddling."
"But for a good purpose."
Conor shifted in his chair and stretched out his legs. "Only if it all turns out as you hope."
Schellden finally turned around to lock eyes with the one man who knew the details of the plan and the reasons behind them. "But do you think it is possible?"
"Possible?" Conor repeated, crossing his arms behind his head. "Aye, your plan is possible. But is it probable? You are one of the best strategists I know, Schellden, but this is no battlefield. We are talking about people and two of them are my brothers. Both happen to be quite perceptive to being manipulated."
"And your wife?"
Conor threw his head back and laughed. "Aye, Laurel could be a challenge. I have no idea how she will respond to this plan of yours but I know that she will react in some unpredictable way."
"But will she cooperate?"
Excerpted from Tempting The Highlander by Michele Sinclair Copyright © 2011 by C. Michele Peach. Excerpted by permission of ZEBRA BOOKS. 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.
Stayed up really really late to read it and finished it early this morning. Loved every minute of this and hope there will be more
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 30, 2011
Posted August 31, 2011
In 1315 twin brothers reserved Crevan and extroverted Craig McTiernay kiss twin sisters in your face Raelynd and dainty Meriel Schellden. Powerful clan leader Laird Schellden catches the two pairs. However, instead of outrage over the affront to his family, the cagy politician sees an opportunity to protect their clan from scam artists. He orders the quartet to pretend they have twin betrothals that would end in one month.
Raelynd is the most volatile against the concept, but appreciates that her partner is outgoing Craig as she cannot stand his mousy twin. On the trek however, Raelynd begins to appreciate the strong reserved Crevan; he shares her attraction but is bound to her sibling. When Raelynd learns his secret that makes him seem wimpy, she realizes she loves her sister's pretend betrothed.
The latest McTiernay medieval Highlander romance (see Desiring a Highlander) is a family affair as a comedy of errors make for a delightful historical. The two sets of twins are fully developed with diverse personalities. As the best laid plans of mice and McTiernay brothers go astray, fans will wonder if the other twins can just remain friends.
2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 26, 2013
A Good Read - Not as much action or love making as the other 3 books in the series. Like other reviewer's I didn't like Laurel in this book. There is no love showing between she and Conor as in the other books. She is becoming a witch with a "B", and a know it all. But I did like the interaction between all the couples. I didn't think there were a lot of secondary character's, if you read the previous books. I liked the Epilogue, but wished the twins father Rae, put in his 2 cents since everyone else did. It is a quick read - 255 pages, a lot of eternal conflict - no wars were fought accept within. I do think it would help to read the books in order. (ljb)
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2013
Posted September 18, 2011
Posted September 8, 2011
Awesome story lines, loved how they overlapped and all the twists & turns to get to the final outcome. Can't wait to see what she has in store for Conor & Clyde!
1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 30, 2014
Posted February 15, 2014
Reviewed by Bri
Book provided by the publisher for review
Review originally posted at Romancing the Book
I’ve read the previous three books in this series. My favorite was the first. That in itself is what is hurting the rest of the series. I find myself constantly comparing every other book.
This one had four main characters a set of twins, Crevan and Craig, McTierney. These guys are great. Different from most alphas by far and both presenting the opposite of what they are. Truly complex characters.
Then the sisters Raekynd and Meriel Schellden. These gals are spoiled. But also not what they appear. While I expected romance and there is certainly some there. This book is more about the growth of characters and the plot against their clans.
Sinclair really took a risk and jumped away from her formula. However, it was a formula that works. I applaud her for her efforts. But will not be rereading this one.
Posted July 29, 2013
I would really really like to see a book where Laurels overly perfect self didn't come in and save the day. I truly dislike that character and as bad as she was in her own story the othercharacters should have their own without her interference. Its unnecessary and annoying and honestly the story should have a plot that unfolds without her. She has literally been a key in every story line and that's just lazy writing. Time to give some other less irritating more real characters some love!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2013
I love this book and the others. But i cznt wait for meriel and craigs book if it ever comes out. Too bad their denying themselves that they live each other and just friends. But overall great!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2012
Read this title if you don't want to read the other titles in the series since the authour sums up all the characters from the first three books, and if you don't like a lot of angst in your romance. Just have patience because the story isn't very deep and the plot takes an unnecessary amount of time to resolve itself. The ending left me wanting more, but this isn't that type of book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2012
Posted April 23, 2013
Didn't like it at all, I bought (To Wed a Highlander- brother to Crevan) and it was just great, well written, and the story just captured you. And I was thinking that this one (Tempting the Highlander) would be the same, but no. It wasn't even close. The story was sooooo slow. There was no tempting! Crevan wanted Raelynd but he wouldnt fight for her, he was willing to give her up because his twin wanted to be Lord of the keep. And when he did "have" her, he still was giving her up. ugh just frustrating. I had such high hope that this one was going to be just as good as the other one. Not worth buying.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 16, 2012
I was really amused by the story line with the twist and turns and the humor and plot of this one book. Good job. I have started reading this arthurs books and have grown to her books.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2012
Posted February 26, 2012
I did not get attached to Raelynd like I did the other main characters in her other books. Some of the characters seemed to have less depth than they normally do. It was like too much was being packed into the book for its length and too many characters stories to explain taking away from the main story. I wished there were more of the book involving Crevan and Raelynd. I would not have liked Laurel at all if it had not been for the other books in the series, even though I knew what she was doing and why. She seemed like a different person, and much more self righteous than she did in the other books. I really liked Crevan, I am tired of the one brother being used the same way in the books. He decides the woman isn't as dumb as he thinks and then helps make his brothers jealous, every time it's the same. The only thing that really irritated me though was the constant "she licked her lips" every female character did this constantly and it got to be really annoying to me.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 13, 2012
Posted January 21, 2012
Posted January 13, 2012
I've enjoyed all the other McTiernay books, but this one was just okay for me. There were too many secondary characters for a 255 page book. I wanted to read more about Crevan and Raelynd, wanted to read more of their story and have them interact much more than they did. This book had the potential to be good, but with all the secondary characters and choppy plotlines, it just felt muddled and slapped together. I hope the next McTiernay book is better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.