The Knight's Temptress

The Knight's Temptress

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by Amanda Scott
     
 

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DARING ESCAPE

Sir Ian Colquhoun has never feared danger. So when Lady Lachina MacFarlan is captured by a ruthless enemy, mounting a daring rescue seems only natural for the courageous knight. But once he has Lina safe in his arms, he sees that the prim young girl from his youth has grown into an alluring woman of extraordinary gifts. When circumstances

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Overview

DARING ESCAPE

Sir Ian Colquhoun has never feared danger. So when Lady Lachina MacFarlan is captured by a ruthless enemy, mounting a daring rescue seems only natural for the courageous knight. But once he has Lina safe in his arms, he sees that the prim young girl from his youth has grown into an alluring woman of extraordinary gifts. When circumstances force him to take her as his wife, the stakes-for her life and their growing love-rise even higher.

DANGEROUS DESIRE

Grateful for Ian's bravery, though wary of his recklessness, Lina agrees to his unexpected proposal. As the two begin to know each other as husband and wife, Lina realizes that she desires more than a passionate protector. But when evil threatens both her family and the knight she has come to love, the lady must take the greatest chance of all . . .

Editorial Reviews

Harriet Klausner
Rave for first book in Scottish Knights Trilogy: "Amanda Scott proves once again she is the Highland Master when it comes to a thrilling tale starring Scottish Knights."
romancejunkies.com
"Blue-ribbon Rating - 4 ! Deliciously sexy....Highland Master is a rare treat of a read."
-Jane Bowers - Romance Reviews Today
"Ms. Scott is able to make settings and history come to life...For a read brightened by suspense, wit, and love, Tamed by a Laird is a great choice."
-Kathe Robin - Historical Romance Reviews
On Seduced by a Rogue: "Top Pick! Scott's wonderful book is...populated by characters who jump off the pages and grab your attention....Tautly written, passionate romance."
Robert Walch - The Salinas Californian
On Highland Master: "[Scott] uses her knowledge of Scottish history to weave an engrossing and sexy story about Highland life in the 1400s."
-Romance Reviews Magazine - romancereviewsmag.com
On Seduced by a Rogue: "Another excellent novel from Amanda Scott, who just keeps producing one fine story after another..."
Allen Pierleoni - The Sacramento Bee
On Seduced by a Rogue:

"The historical romance writer adds this title to her impressive bibliography, delivering another trademark tale of strong-willed women and warrior-clans in 14th -century Scotland."

Romance Reviews
On Tempted by a Warrior:

"4 Checks! ...Terrific story. Loved the tension between Fiona and Dickon...Plenty of ...suspense throughout. Another wonderful Scottish tale with lots to recommend to all."

Romance Reviews Magazine
For Highland Master:

"Marvelous Scottish tale of a time in history when various plays for power were held....a piece of history as well as a great tale. Amanda Scott does it again with another fascinating part of Scottish history."

Romance Reviews Magazine on HIGHLAND HERO
"Amanda Scott has done it again - provided us with an exciting, adventurous tale set in Scotland."
Harriet Klausner on HIGHLAND HERO
"As always in an Amanda Scott historical the inclusion of real persona and facts enhances the romance; while treachery and betrayal are a normal part of the court."
RT Book Reviews on HIGHLAND LOVER
"4 1/2 stars, Top Pick! The last of the Scottish Knights trilogy is Scott's reward to her fans. The exquisite, yet subtle portrayal of her characters, coupled with their budding romance, hastens the reader's emotional involvement with the novel. Excellent melding of historical events and people into the sensuous love story greatly enhances an excellent read. "
From the Publisher
"4 1/2 stars, Top Pick! The last of the Scottish Knights trilogy is Scott's reward to her fans. The exquisite, yet subtle portrayal of her characters, coupled with their budding romance, hastens the reader's emotional involvement with the novel. Excellent melding of historical events and people into the sensuous love story greatly enhances an excellent read. "—RT Book Reviews on HIGHLAND LOVER"

Infusing her characters with passion, courage, and often a wry sense of humor, Scott (Highland Hero) brings all the violence, splendor, and wicked machinations of medieval Scotland (and England when necessary) to vivid life in a thrilling story that makes good use of historical events and characters. Guaranteed to please."—Library Journal on HIGHLAND LOVER"

As always in an Amanda Scott historical the inclusion of real persona and facts enhances the romance; while treachery and betrayal are a normal part of the court."—Harriet Klausner on HIGHLAND HERO"

Amanda Scott has done it again - provided us with an exciting, adventurous tale set in Scotland."—Romance Reviews Magazine on HIGHLAND HERO

Rave for Highland Master:"

Great with sensual scenes, Scott excapes the cliche of a masterful male taming a 'wildcat' woman; instead, Fin and Catriona learn to communicate and compromise in this solid roomantic adventure....Scott...deftly handles period dialogue and attitudes."—Publishers Weekly

For Highland Master:"

Marvelous Scottish tale of a time in history when various plays for power were held....a piece of history as well as a great tale. Amanda Scott does it again with another fascinating part of Scottish history."—Romance Reviews Magazine

Rave for first book in Scottish Knights Trilogy: "Amanda Scott proves once again she is the Highland Master when it comes to a thrilling tale starring Scottish Knights."—Harriet Klausner

On Highland Master: "[Scott] uses her knowledge of Scottish history to weave an engrossing and sexy story about Highland life in the 1400s."—Robert Walch, The Salinas Californian"

Blue-ribbon Rating - 4 ! Deliciously sexy....Highland Master is a rare treat of a read."—romancejunkies.com"

Amanda Scott has an uncanny knack of picking up her readers and plunking them down right in the middle of her storyworld. The physical settings, the tenor of the times, the characters, the language, and the political and family tensions, all present an unmatched air of authenticity to her work...Highland Master is an eminently satisfying read."—Romance Reviews Today

On Tempted by a Warrior:"

4 Checks! ...Terrific story. Loved the tension between Fiona and Dickon...Plenty of ...suspense throughout. Another wonderful Scottish tale with lots to recommend to all."—Romance Reviews

On Seduced by a Rogue:"

The historical romance writer adds this title to her impressive bibliography, delivering another trademark tale of strong-willed women and warrior-clans in 14th -century Scotland."—Allen Pierleoni, The Sacramento Bee, www.sacbee.com

On Seduced by a Rogue: "Another excellent novel from Amanda Scott, who just keeps producing one fine story after another..."—-Romance Reviews Magazine, romancereviewsmag.com

On Seduced by a Rogue: "Top Pick! Scott's wonderful book is...populated by characters who jump off the pages and grab your attention....Tautly written, passionate romance."—-Kathe Robin, Historical Romance Reviews, rtbookreviews.com"

Ms. Scott is able to make settings and history come to life...For a read brightened by suspense, wit, and love, Tamed by a Laird is a great choice."—-Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today

On Tamed by a Laird: "Noted for her exceptionally well-written and well-researched Scottish historicals, Scott breathes vivid, colorful life into 14th-century Scotland with strong, well-motivated characters, a passionate love story, and enough political intrigue to keep the action lively."—-Kristin Ramsdell, Library Journal Reviews

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781455514342
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
08/27/2013
Series:
Lairds of the Loch Series, #2
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
405,620
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Knight's Temptress


By Amanda Scott

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Amanda Scott
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4555-1434-2



CHAPTER 1

Glen Fruin, near Loch Lomond, August 1


Lizzie, no! Come back!"

Dismayed to see her young companion spur the bay gelding she rode to a gallop and disappear around a turn shortly before the steep, downhill Glen Fruin path met the one along Loch Lomond's southwestern shore, eighteen-year-old Lachina MacFarlan gritted her teeth, warned herself to keep calm, and urged her dun- colored horse to a faster pace.

A voice above and behind her on the glen path shouted, "Lady Lina, wait!"

Glancing back at the gillie who followed her, Lina did not reply or slow her mount. Nor did she spare more than a fleeting thought for the reaction her good- brother, Sir Magnus Galbraith-MacFarlan, would have when he heard—as he would—that his little sister had broken her word ... again.

Although Sir Magnus was the largest man Lina knew—or had ever seen, for that matter—she did not fear his wrath. For one thing, he and his wife—her elder sister, Andrena—were visiting Magnus's eldest sister and her husband in Ayrshire. For another, she knew that Magnus would easily deduce that the blame for this mischief lay entirely with the irrepressible Lizzie.

Reaching the shore path, Lina scarcely noted the sparkling blue loch spread before her. Deftly turning the dun gelding southward, she felt relief mixed with exasperation when she saw Lizzie again.

The slim, fourteen-year-old scapegrace rode as if she were part of the horse.

Lina was a competent horsewoman, but Lizzie was spectacular, especially riding astride in her mossy-green cloak with the mass of her long, curly red hair billowing behind her in a cloud of light red and sunny highlights—confined only by a narrow white ribbon at her nape.

Lina's honey-gold hair lay smoothly coiled against the back of her head under a white veil held in place with an inch-wide band that she had embroidered with pink roses. Her hooded cloak was of soft gray wool that her sister Muriella had spun from their own lambs' wool. Lina had woven the spun yarn into fabric herself.

It was a fine summer morning. Clouds drifted above and the air was cool, thanks to a breeze blowing off of Ben Lomond. The mountain loomed northeast of them, still wearing its snowcap. The breeze rippled the water of the loch.

Earlier, in the glen, had Lizzie not been ahead of her and eager to reach the loch, Lina might have paused to remove her cloak. Now, in the chilly breeze, she was glad she had not.

Lizzie had agreed that they would ride from Bannachra Tower, an ancient Galbraith holding half a mile behind them, only as far as the loch. That she had turned south told Lina that she had intended to do so all along.

The ever-present, self-critical voice in Lina's head suggested that she ought to have known Lizzie was up to mischief. She had seen enough in past days to know the lengths to which the younger girl would go to get her way. She knew, too, that Lizzie must have heard her shout, but Lizzie neither paused nor looked back.

Hoping no one else would hear her, Lina shouted, "Lizzie, stop now!"

Lizzie pounded on, making Lina wish Mag were with them. He would ...

But it was useless to speculate about what anyone who was miles away might do. Moreover, had Mag or the Laird of Galbraith been with them, Lizzie would never have dared to break her agreement.

Lina pressed her lips together. No use to repine about that, either. Repining would not stop Lizzie. Had she been Lina's younger sister, Muriella, Lina would have reined in and waited for her to come to her senses.

But the only traits Lizzie and Murie shared were occasional lapses of judgment and an oft-spoken desire, common to many people of their age, to enjoy more freedom than they had and to make their own decisions.

Murie could also take the bit between her teeth, but she would not dash into unknown territory as Lizzie was doing—territory unknown to Lina, at all events. Lizzie was a mystery to her in other ways, too. Although Mag and Andrena had been married for nearly six months, Lachina had known Lizzie for only six days.

"Lady Lina, dinna ride any farther! Ye mun turn back!"

Realizing that while she had been lost in thought, the gillie had caught up with her, she looked over her shoulder and said, "I think Lady Elizabeth wants to see if Duchess Isabella has returned to Inchmurrin, Peter. Galbraith told us that the King had given her permission to come home."

"We'd ha' heard summat more if the duchess was there, m'lady."

"Aye, perhaps. But we cannot turn back and just abandon her ladyship."

"But the pair o' ye mustna ride south!" Peter exclaimed. "There be danger there. The rebels! The laird gave strict orders, too. Ye ken fine that he did."

She did know about the Laird of Galbraith's orders. She had heard him issue them, and so had Lizzie. But he had issued many orders before his departure the previous day in response to a summons from the Colquhouns of Dunglass.

That stronghold, Lina knew, lay ten miles south of Loch Lomond on the river Clyde, not far from Dumbarton, the royal castle that the rebels had seized.

She knew the Colquhouns, because their lands along the Loch of the Long Boats abutted the southern boundary of Tùr Meiloach, her father's estate.

Suppressing a sigh, she said, "We must catch up with her, Peter." Leaning forward, she urged her horse to a faster pace. Thickets of shrubbery and scattered copses of trees dotted the loch shore and the hillside above it. The track they followed disappeared into dense woodland ahead.

Surely, Lizzie would not ...

"That hibbertie-skippertie lass be a-heading right into them woods, m'lady!"

"I see her, Peter," Lina shouted back. "Just ride! And mind your tongue when you speak of the lady Elizabeth!"

" 'Tis what Sir Mag calls her," Peter said. "I ken fine that I should not. But—"

Evidently realizing he had said more than was wise, he fell silent.

Lina saw then that Lizzie was slowing her horse. Perhaps she had come to her senses. Even as the thought presented itself, Lina felt a strong sense of unease.

The woods ahead seemed ominously to darken.

"Was that not a grand gallop, Lina?" Lizzie called out as Lina and Peter drew near and slowed their mounts.

"What you want, my sweet, is a taste of your brother Mag's temper," Lina said, reining in but keeping her eyes on the woods. Her unease was increasing. "Whatever were you thinking to ride off ahead of us like that?"

Lizzie shot a glance at Peter. Then she looked back at Lina with one eyebrow raised before saying, "Even Mag would not scold me in front of a gillie."

"You chose the setting," Lina said. "You might have considered the fact that, since I'm four years older than you, your lord father will likely blame me for this."

"He will not. Nor will Mag. If they were here, they would scold, to be sure. But they are not here. And, by the time they come home, anyone else who may learn of it will have forgotten. So, you need not fratch with me, Lina. I want only to see if the Duchess of Albany is in residence yet."

"We can see Inchmurrin's towers from here, Liz. No banner flies there, let alone a ducal one. Forbye, we are defying your father's orders. Do you think he will not hear about that?"

Lizzie shrugged. "Peter is your gillie. He won't carry tales about me to my father. Will you, Peter?" she added, flashing her lovely smile at him.

"It won't matter who tells him," Lina said.

"No one will. And we are nearing Balloch now. Since the duchess inherited all of her late father's properties and Balloch Castle is one of them ..."

"The King is unlikely to let her keep all of Lennox's properties," Lina said, trying to ignore her growing sense of urgency and at least sound patient. "Recall that Balloch was a royal estate before the first Duke of Albany gave it to Lennox when Isabella married Albany's son, Murdoch. We must turn back, Lizzie," she added.

"But I've never seen a duchess," Lizzie protested. "Nor have I—"

"Listen, m'lady!" Peter interjected.

Lina heard then what he had heard and wished that she had her sister Andrena's keen ability to sense when others were near her.

"Horsemen," she said, looking at Peter.

He nodded. "Armed ones," he added. "Ye can hear weapons clanking."

"Mayhap they are royal men-at-arms, escorting the duchess," Lizzie said.

"Or rebel forces in such number that they fear no one," Lina replied. She felt in her bones that soldiers were more likely than the duchess.

"It could as easily be my father, returning from Dunglass," Lizzie said.

"I hope it is," Lina declared. "You'll be well served if he finds us here, aye?"

Lizzie grimaced.

Peter said, "We mun turn back. If we set our horses tae a gallop—"

"They will give chase," Lina said flatly. "We cannot outrun them, Peter. Our horses are not fresh. Theirs may be."

"We are noblewomen," Lizzie said, tossing her head. "They won't harm us."

Lina nearly contradicted her. But she decided that she would be wiser to let Lizzie believe what she wanted to believe.

Meeting Peter's worried gaze, Lina said, "Ride into that copse yonder above us, Peter. They won't hear just one horseman on that grassy slope. But they would hear three. Nay, do not waste time arguing," she added when he opened his mouth. "They've not yet seen us, and that copse is dense enough to conceal you and your horse. Also, whoever they are, they are unlikely to interfere with us."

"But, m'lady—"

"Go," Lina said. "If they are enemies, you may be our only hope of rescue."

Without another word, Peter wrenched his horse's head toward the hillside and spurred hard. He disappeared into the trees just as Lina caught sight of the first mounted riders through the woodland foliage ahead.

"Don't you dare look toward that copse again, Lizzie Galbraith," she said fiercely, trying to think. "They fly a Stewart banner. But it is not a royal one."

"Oh, Lina, what have I done?" Biting her lip, Lizzie watched the path ahead.

Minutes later, rebel men-at-arms surrounded them.

Dunglass Castle, that afternoon

"We must plan the attack on Dumbarton for well after midnight when they'll least expect it," eighteen-year-old Adam Colquhoun said eagerly to his older brother when they had finished their midday meal. "We can secure the royal burgh, Ian. But I don't know how we'll get an army up that rock to win back the castle. It's two hundred feet high with only that one devilish steep road on the north side."

Sir Ian shook his head but smiled at Adam, whose dark hair, light-blue eyes, and lanky body mirrored his own. Their younger brother, Eric, fostering with cousins in Leith, had fair hair like their sisters. "We'll think of a way," Ian said. "In fact, I've carried out some of my best gambits in broad daylight," he added, shifting his gaze from Adam to the two older men seated with them at the high table.

The rest of Dunglass Castle's cavernous great hall was empty.

"Broad daylight!" Adam exclaimed. "But—"

"Hush now, lad," the Laird of Colquhoun interjected. "Ye've put your finger on the most vexing obstacle to retaking Dumbarton from that nest of villains. But Ian is the man his grace ordered to reclaim the royal burgh and castle and return them to the Crown. Let him have his say."

Smiling at his father, Ian said, "I do expect to draw considerably on your wisdom, sir. And Sir Arthur's," he added, looking at the Laird of Galbraith.

Galbraith acknowledged his words with a dignified nod.

"Sithee, the enemy will be much stronger than we are," Ian went on. "So we must avoid head-on battle. Also, we don't know who amongst the Loch Lomond lairds will be with us and who will not, whatever any of them may tell us."

Galbraith said, "I own, lad, I'm of a mixed mind about this venture. Ye ken fine that my son Patrick has long served James Mòr Stewart and stands now with him against the King. And Rory, my heir, serves the Duchess of Albany. She has even more reason than James Mòr to loathe the King. After all, he beheaded not only her husband and two of her three sons but also her eighty-year-old father."

"True, sir," Ian said. "But Lennox and James Mòr did betray Jamie. And you also have one son who is loyal to him. I'm hoping that, even if you cannot actively support us, you will do nowt to prevent our success."

"My view is still that the King of Scots is chief of chiefs," Galbraith said. "So I can make ye that promise. Forbye, I'm thinking your sire may have qualms about this undertaking, Ian. He aye puts peace above all else, does he not?"

Shifting his gaze to Colquhoun, he added with a slight smile, "What say ye, Humphrey? Art willing to wage war to help reclaim Dumbarton for Jamie Stewart?"

Colquhoun shrugged. "I'm much less willing to let James Mòr Stewart seize control of the river that flows by this castle, not to mention the entire Firth of Clyde," he said. "He would then control the route from here to Glasgow. And to the sea."

"He has apparently made no such attempt yet," Galbraith pointed out.

"Only because he lacks men skilled enough to manage Dumbarton's boats in battle against others," Colquhoun said. "Forbye, such boatmen as they do have are nearly all lads who served under our own Gregor Colquhoun. They swore fealty to James Mòr only to save their hides after he murdered Gregor and seized the castle."

"Also true," Ian said grimly. "The first thing I'll do after reclaiming Dumbarton is hang any man who served my cousin Gregor whilst he was captain of the guard there but who refuses to aid me now."

"And I'll help you do it," declared a deep voice from the rear of the hall.

Recognizing the voice as that of Galbraith's youngest and largest son, Ian leaped to his feet, exclaiming, "Maggy! You're back!"

"As you see," the big man said as he strode across the hall toward them.


They had been riding hither and yon, and Lady Lachina's stomach was growling. Neither she nor Lizzie had eaten since breaking their fast that morning.

Their captors, numbering nearly a score and riding two-by-two before and behind them, apparently had their own food and water with them. Lina had seen several of them pull out bread, salted meat, or a flask as they rode.

Casting an oblique look at Lizzie, Lina saw that she was exerting herself to look calm. She had been silent for nearly half an hour after prattling nonstop before then without caring who might hear her. She had complained about the dastardly nature of their capture, the likelihood of her father's violent reaction, and what—in vivid detail—Galbraith would do to punish the men when he caught them.

Lizzie's expression froze then, her gaze fixed somewhere ahead of her.

Shifting her own gaze accordingly, Lina saw that the troop's leader was looking over his shoulder at them.

Just then he winked.

His audacity stopped Lina's breath in her throat. She looked at Lizzie.

The younger girl, blushing deeply, looked down at her horse's mane.

Having seen how flirtatious Lizzie could be, Lina said evenly, "Don't encourage such conduct from any of these men, Liz. They are not our friends."

"I know," Lizzie muttered, still staring at her horse's mane. She looked at Lina. "He is very handsome, though, is he not?"

Honesty forbade denial. The leader was a good-looking man perhaps eight or a dozen years older than they were. He wore no hat or helmet and had tied back his dark hair with a string, so one could easily see his strong jaw line, firm chin, and well-formed lips. Lina noted, too, that his nose was admirably straight, his thick-lashed eyes set deep and well apart. Nevertheless, he gave her chills.

"Lizzie," she said sternly, "one does not flirt with a man who has taken one prisoner. These men must be some of the rebels who seized Dumbarton."

Lizzie shrugged. "What if they are?" she asked. "Is not my brother Patrick also one of those rebels? He has served James Mòr for years, after all. That is why I told these men who I am when they accosted us."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Knight's Temptress by Amanda Scott. Copyright © 2013 Amanda Scott. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
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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