The captivating sequel to 2006's Surrender continues the tale of the MacKinnon clan, Scots forced to fight for the British in the 18th-century French and Indian Wars. The French score a major coup when they capture notorious ranger Morgan MacKinnon, best known for destroying an Abenaki village after learning that the tribe's warriors were scalping women and children. Brigadier de Bourlamaque plans on handing MacKinnon over to the Abenaki, who promise to torture him mercilessly, unless he betrays his comrades. MacKinnon despairs, but Bourlamaque's ward, Amalie Chauvenet, captures his heart and persuades him to spy for the French against the English. Clare's detailed attention to the history of alliances forged and battles fought near Fort Ticonderoga adds authenticity, and the characters evolve and change with a realism that readers will love. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Untamed (MacKinnon's Rangers Series #2)by Pamela Clare
When he awakens sweet passion in a convent-bred French lass, Morgan MacKinnon finds himself cursing the war that's forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging himself to the woman he loves.See more details below
When he awakens sweet passion in a convent-bred French lass, Morgan MacKinnon finds himself cursing the war that's forced him to choose between upholding his honor and pledging himself to the woman he loves.
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By Pamela Clare
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Chapter One Ticonderoga New York Frontier April 19, 1759
Major Morgan MacKinnon lay on his belly, looking down from the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain to the French fort at Ticonderoga below. He held up his brother Iain's spying glass-nay, it was now his spying glass-and watched as French soldiers unloaded kegs of gunpowder from the hold of a small ship. Clearly, Bourlamaque was preparing to defend the fort again. But if Morgan and his Rangers succeeded in their mission tonight, that powder would never see the inside of a French musket.
Connor stretched out beside him and spoke in a whisper. "I cannae look down upon this place without thinkin' of that bastard Abercrombie and the good men we lost."
Morgan lowered the spying glass and met his younger brother's gaze. "Nor can I, but we didnae come here to grieve."
"Nay." Connor's gaze hardened. "We've come for vengeance."
Amalie picked at her dinner, her appetite lost to talk of war. She did her best to listen politely, no matter how dismayed she felt at the thought of another British attack. Monsieur de Bourlamaque was commander of a garrison in the midst of conflict. It was right that he and his trusted officers should discuss the war as they dined. She did not wish to distract them with childish sentiments, nor was she so selfish that she required diversion. And if, at times, she wished her guardian would ask to hear her thoughts ...
Her father was the only person who'd ever done that, and he was gone.
And so Amalie passed the meal in silence, much as she'd done at the abbey.
"We must not let last summer's victory lull us into becoming overconfident." Bourlamaque dabbed his lips with a white linen serviette. His blue uniform, with its decorations and the red sash, set him apart from his officers, who wore gray. "Amherst is not a fool like Abercrombie. He would never have attacked without artillery."
Lieutenant Rillieux leaned back in his chair, his face a wide grin. Alone of the younger officers, who favored their natural hair, he wore a powdered wig, the white a marked contrast to his olive skin and dark brows. "Let him do his worst."
Amalie stifled a gasp. How could he tempt fate in such a way when it could mean the deaths of his own men? He'd do far better to pray for peace!
But Lieutenant Rillieux didn't seem to realize he'd said something thoughtless. "We shall drive Amherst back into the forest just as we did his predecessor. My men are ready."
"Were they ready when MacKinnon and his men attacked that last supply train?" Bourlamaque raised an eyebrow in clear disapproval. "We lost a fortune in rifled muskets-not to mention several cases of my favorite wine. No matter how well you prepare, the Rangers seem to stay one step ahead of you."
Amalie's belly knotted, as it did anytime she heard mention of MacKinnon's Rangers. They seemed to be everywhere and nowhere, these men who had killed her father. Although Papa had reassured her that there was no such thing as chi bai, she'd begun to wonder if her cousins were right. Perhaps the Rangers weren't men after all.
Lieutenant Rillieux's nostrils flared, and he bowed his head in apology. "My regrets once more for your loss, monsieur. The MacKinnon brothers are formidable adversaries, but we will break them."
"Let us hope so. Perhaps now that the eldest MacKinnon has been released from service, the Rangers will fall under poor leadership."
"I doubt that, monsieur. Morgan MacKinnon is every bit the woodsman, marksman, and leader that Iain MacKinnon was. It would be foolish to underestimate him. But arrangements have been made. As I said, my men are ready."
Amalie wasn't ready. She hadn't forgotten last summer's battle and feared the prospect of renewed bloodshed. Her grief for her father was still keen, her dreams filled with musket fire and the cries of dying men.
If only this accursed war would end! Life would be free to blossom again in New France. Sails would fill the harbors, bringing not soldiers but men and women who wanted to build homes and raise families here.
And what will you do, Amalie? Where will you go when the war is won?
Bourlamaque, who was now her guardian, believed that it was past time for her either to take vows and serve Christ or marry and serve a husband.
"I would see you safely settled," he often reminded her. "It is my duty to your father."
But Amalie had no desire to return to the dreary life of the abbey. It seemed to her that she'd drawn her first real breath when, after sixteen years, she'd left its walls. There she'd felt listless, as if some part of her were trapped in slumber. Here at Fort Carillon, in her father's company, she'd been truly happy. She'd felt alive.
She supposed she ought to marry, and yet in her grief she had not the heart for it. Bourlamaque assured her that a husband and children were the answer to her sorrow, and she knew he believed a swift marriage would be best for her. Still, she had hoped to make a love match like her parents. She wanted a husband who cherished her and whom she cherished in return, a man who, like her father, would value her opinions more than her obedience, who would see her as more than a helpmeet and the mother of his children, who would truly see her.
Certainly Lieutenant Rillieux, while possessed of many admirable qualities, was not such a man. After her father's death, he had begun to show an interest in her, pressing his suit with her guardian despite her insistence that she did not wish to be his wife. He did not seem to understand that his disregard for her opinions was the very proof she needed that they would not make a suitable match. And so she had pleaded bereavement, feigning confusion over which path to take-that of a novice or that of a wife-and Bourlamaque had relented in his efforts to find her a husband.
Yet she knew her reprieve wouldn't last. Neither Monsieur le Marquis de Montcalm nor Monsieur de Bourlamaque wished her to remain at Fort Carillon any longer than was necessary, insisting that the frontier was no place for a woman without a husband. If it hadn't been for MacKinnon's Rangers, whose lurking presence made the forest around Fort Carillon perilous, Bourlamaque would have sent her back to Trois Rivières when Montcalm had traveled north to Montréal. But the destruction of several supply trains and the loss of almost thirty soldiers to the horrid Scotsmen had convinced him that she was safer for the moment staying at the fort.
What will you do if the British prevail and the war is lost, Amalie?
She could not journey to France, for she knew no one there. Nor would she seek out her mother's kin, whose customs and language were strange to her. From two different worlds, she seemed to belong in neither.
The thought doused the last spark of her appetite. She was just setting her silverware aside when she heard it.
The sharp retort of musket fire.
Then the front door flew open and a young sergeant dashed inside, a look of excitement on his face. He stopped when he saw Bourlamaque and saluted smartly. "It is MacKinnon's Rangers, monsieur! We have them!"
Morgan knew it was a trap the moment the first powder keg failed to explode.
He'd waited until it was dark. Then with Connor and their Muhheconneok allies to guard the retreat, he'd crept along the riverbank with a small force of Rangers to fire upon the kegs and ignite them. But, though he knew for certain he'd hit his mark and the others theirs, not a single keg had gone up. Now the French were alerted to their presence, and with no explosions or fire to distract them, they would come after the Rangers with their full strength.
"Fall back!" Even as he shouted the command, the French opened fire-but not only from the walls. At least twenty infantrymen stood on the deck of the ship moored behind them, muskets aimed at the pier below. 'Twas like shooting ducks on a pond.
Morgan and his men were trapped in a crossfire.
"To the river!" He drew his pistol, felt a ball whiz past his cheek, and crouched down to make himself a smaller target, peering through the darkness to account for his men.
Killy. McHugh. Brendan. Forbes.
All running back to the riverbank.
Where was Dougie?
Then the forest behind them erupted with musket fire as the combined forces of the Rangers and the Muhheconneok-almost two hundred men-returned fire. They staggered their fire, giving the enemy no chance to breathe, sowing panic among the French, particularly those on the ship, who seemed to realize all at once that they were far outside the fort's walls.
That's the way, boys!
Morgan took cover behind a battered hogshead, aimed his rifle at one of the soldiers on the ship, and fired, watching out of the corner of his eye as, one by one, his men reached the riverbank and dropped out of sight, Killy cursing all the way.
"Bastard sons of whores!"
But where was Dougie?
And then he saw.
Dougie lay on his back near the stack of kegs, reloading his rifle, a strip of white tied around his thigh. "Go on! Go!"
But Morgan wasn't about to leave without him. He'd led his men into this trap. He would bloody well get them out-all of them.
He glanced toward the riverbank, saw McHugh, Killy, Brendan, and Forbes nose their rifles over the top of the bank and take aim,ready to cover him. He hurled his rifle, his claidheamh mòr, and his tumpline pack to Killy and got ready to run.
And then it came-the Muhheconneok war cry. It rose out of the forest, primal and raw, terrifying the French, turning their attention away from the pier and giving Morgan the chance he needed.
Blood thrumming, he drew in a breath, dashed out from behind the hogshead, and ran a jagged path toward Dougie, barely feeling the ball that burned a path across his forearm or the one that creased his hip.
"A fine time to get shot, this is!"
But Dougie was ready for him, crouching on one knee, his injured leg stretched out beside him. "You're daft, MacKinnon!"
Morgan dropped down, took Dougie onto his back, and forced himself to his feet. "Och, you're heavy as an ox! And you stink!"
His gaze fixed on the riverbank a hundred feet away, Morgan ran, Dougie's added weight pounding through the straining muscles of his thighs to the soles of his moccasins, his heart slamming in his chest.
"You run like a lass!" Dougie shouted in his ear. "Can you no' go faster?"
But Morgan didn't have the breath to do more than curse. "Mac-dìolain!" Whoreson!
Sixty feet. Fifty. Forty.
A roar of cannon erupted behind him, the French firing their twelve-pounders at the forest just as they had last summer, trying to turn the shelter of the trees into a charnel pit. Jeers coming from the trees told him the balls had fallen short of the mark-this time.
Thirty feet. Twenty. Ten.
Morgan sucked breath into his aching lungs, drove himself forward, hurling both of them over the edge. They tumbled, arse over elbow, down the embankment to the sand below. No sooner had they landed than McHugh and Forbes took Dougie between them and hurried him along the river toward the forest beyond.
Young Brendan clasped Morgan's forearm, helped him back to his feet, then hurried after McHugh and Forbes, already reloading.
Killy held out Morgan's rifle and his pack, a smile on his scarred Irish face. "You bloody daft Scot."
Another blast of cannon.
Morgan slipped the tumpline over his head, tucked his sword into place, grabbed his rifle, and then began to reload, shouting over the din. "Help McHugh and Forbes! I'll cover our backs in case those bastards on the ship try to follow!"
"Aye." Killy turned and was gone.
Morgan got into position, peeked over the edge of the riverbank, picked a target on the darkened deck of the ship, and fired. Reloading quickly, he kept up a rapid fire, glancing over to watch his men's progress until they disappeared among the trees. Then, feeling a rush of relief, he cast one last glance at the fort walls-and felt something strike him in the right shoulder.
Instantly, his right arm went numb, falling useless to his side. Something warm and wet trickled down his chest.
He'd been shot.
It was then the pain struck, forcing the breath from his lungs, driving him to his knees.
He heard a shout of victory and looked up to see a French soldier high in the ship's rigging, musket raised over his head.
So this is how it ends.
The thought ran through Morgan's mind, detached from any fear.
But no' just yet.
Unable to load and fire his heavy rifle with one hand, he dropped it to the sand, withdrew his pistol, aimed, and fired, ending the soldier's celebration. But other soldiers had climbed into the rigging to see what their comrade's cheering was about, and before Morgan could take cover, several fired.
A ball ripped through his right thigh, the shock of it like fire and ice.
And Morgan knew it was over. He fell onto his side, forced himself onto his belly, and tried to crawl for cover, gritting his teeth against the pain.
He recognized Connor's voice and saw his brother emerge from the forest at a run, Killy, Forbes, and McHugh behind him.
"No, Connor! Stop!" From somewhere nearby Morgan heard the tromp of hundreds of boots and knew the gates of the fort had been thrown open. Were the French planning a counterattack? "I am lost already! Get the men out of here!"
Even in the dark, he could see the anguish and horror on his brother's face as Connor realized he would not be able to reach him in time to keep him from the swarming French.
His strength all but spent, Morgan met Connor's tormented gaze, his chest swelling with regret, grief, love.
Gathering all his breath, Morgan shouted. "Beannachd leat!"
Blessings go with you, brother!
And dinnae mourn me overlong. Tell little Iain-
But Morgan never finished the thought.
The last thing he heard before darkness claimed him was Connor's anguished cry.
Excerpted from Untamed by Pamela Clare Copyright © 2008 by Pamela White. Excerpted by permission.
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