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Dangerous Highlander (Dark Sword Series #1)

Dangerous Highlander (Dark Sword Series #1)

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by Donna Grant

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Dangerous Highlander is the first novel of Dark Sword—a breathtaking historical and paranormal romance series from Donna Grant. The bold and passionate Lucan MacLeod—one of three brothers cursed by dark magic for eternity—is driven by desire for the one woman he dare not let himself possess…

He is magnificently strong—and


Dangerous Highlander is the first novel of Dark Sword—a breathtaking historical and paranormal romance series from Donna Grant. The bold and passionate Lucan MacLeod—one of three brothers cursed by dark magic for eternity—is driven by desire for the one woman he dare not let himself possess…

He is magnificently strong—and dangerously seductive. One of the fiercest of his clan, Lucan MacLeod is a legend among warriors, inspiring fear in man and woman alike. For three hundred years, he has locked himself away from the world, hiding the vengeful god imprisoned in his soul. But then, a young lass caught in a raging storm awakens his deepest impulses…and darkest desires.
Cara doesn't believe the rumors about the MacLeod castle—until the majestic Highland warrior appears like a fiery vision in the storm, pulling her into his powerful arms, and into his world of magic and Druids. An epic war between good and evil is brewing. And Lucan must battle his all-consuming attraction for Cara—or surrender to the flames of a reckless, impossible love that threatens to destroy them both…

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"Sensual, dark and enchanting . . . sure to leave [fans] craving more!" ---Lara Adrian

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St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Dark Sword , #1
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Dangerous Highlander

By Donna Grant

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2010 Donna Grant
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-8875-9


West Highlands of Scotland Spring 1603

"Ye've gone daft, ye have."

Cara adjusted the basket on her arm. The brisk wind from the sea pulled tendrils from her braid to fly haphazardly into her eyes. She tucked them behind her ear and smiled at Angus. He had only one tooth left in his mouth, and what little hair he had stood on end, waving about in the vicious sea wind. "I'll be fine, Angus. The best mushrooms in all of Scotland are within walking distance."

"Ye stay away from that castle, lass. 'Tis full of ghosts it be. And monsters." He shook a gnarled finger at her, his white, fluffy brows furrowed deep in his wrinkled forehead.

He needn't remind her. Everyone in clan MacClure knew of MacLeod Castle. For centuries the stories of how the entire MacLeod clan had been massacred had been passed down from generation to generation. Tales of ghosts that roamed the land and castle were also told to frighten young children.

But it did more than scare the bairns. Even adults swore they saw movement in the shadows of MacLeod Castle.

No one dared venture near the old ruins for fear of being eaten alive. It didn't help that strange, furious sounds, almost like howls, could be heard emanating from the ancient fortress in the dead of night.

Cara inhaled deeply and turned her head to look at the castle. It stood dark and foreboding against the ominous clouds coming their way. Grass, bright green in the warming weather, surrounded the stones that protruded from the landscape while the dark blue sea set a fantastic backdrop to the castle. The castle itself had two connected towers that had at one time served as the gate house. The gate had burned in the slaughter, leaving nothing left.

The castle wall that was easily twelve feet thick still stood, its stones blackened by the fire, with many of the sawtoothed merlons and crenels broken and crumbling. There were six round towers that stretched to the sky, leaving only one with the ceiling intact.

Cara had wanted to look inside the bailey and castle but had never been brave enough. Her fear of the dark, and the creatures that lurked in it, kept her out of the stronghold.

"They are simply stones turned to rubble," she said to Angus. "There are no ghosts. Nor monsters."

Angus moved to stand beside her. "There are monsters, Cara. Heed me words, lass. Ye go near the ruins, we'll never see ye again."

"I promise I won't go in the castle, but I must get near it to get the mushrooms. Sister Abigail needs them for her herbs."

"Then let the good Sister go herself. She's not one of us. Ye are, Cara. Ye know the tales of the MacLeods."

"That's right, Angus. I do." She didn't bother denouncing her MacClure ties. She was a Sinclair, though no one knew it. It was just one of her secrets she kept from the clan that had taken her in when she was a small child wandering the forest.

Nay, she wasn't a MacClure, but she didn't correct Angus, one of her only friends. It felt good to belong to something, even if it was just in her mind. Not even the nuns who had raised her made her feel as if she truly belonged. They had loved her, in their own way, but it wasn't the same thing as a parent's love.

Not that she blamed any of the MacClures for not opening their homes to her. When the nuns had found her, she had gone days without food. She had been filthy, barefoot, and still so in shock at her parents' deaths that she refused to speak. She doubted anyone wanted to know that her parents had sacrificed themselves to save her, their only child.

Like most Highlanders, the MacClures were a superstitious lot and feared Cara and what had driven her from her home. It was that same superstition that kept everyone away from the ruins of the castle that stood on the cliffs. With one last look at Angus and his furrowed brow, she lifted her skirts and turned to start toward the ancient ruins, ignoring the tingle of apprehension that ran along her spine.

His words were soon drowned out by the breeze and the cries of birds. Cara kept a watchful eye on the sinister clouds moving toward her. If she was lucky, she would be back inside the nunnery before the first drop landed.

She set out, enjoying the spring wind and the call of the razorbills that made their homes in the cliffs. Ever since the spring equinox and her eighteenth year, strange things had begun to happen to her. She would feel a sort of ... tingling ... in her fingers. The need to touch something overwhelmed her. Yet she feared that sensation, so she kept her hands to herself and tried her best to ignore the need that called to her. Being more different than she already was would not endure her to the MacClures — or the nuns.

The village of the MacClures had been built but a short distance from the old community of MacLeod Castle. After the massacre, it hadn't taken the other clans long to divide up the lands of the MacLeods, and the MacClures were one of the first.

It was a sad story, and every time she looked at the castle she couldn't help but wonder what had actually happened. The MacLeods had been a great clan, feared and respected, and had been destroyed in a single night. Yet no one had claimed responsibility for the annihilation.

A shiver ran through her as she recalled the animalistic howls and screams she sometimes heard at night. She told the children at the nunnery it was simply the wind racing across the sea and moving between the ruins. But deep inside, she knew the truth.

There was something alive in the castle.

The closer she got to the old castle, the more the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end. She turned her back on the ruins, scolding herself for letting her fear take hold. There was nothing to worry about now. It was daylight. Only the dark of night brought out her true fear.

She briefly closed her eyes and tamped her growing fright down. A gasp escaped her lips when the necklace she always kept hidden warmed against her skin.

She pulled the necklace out of her gown and stared at the vial and the silver knot work that wound around it. The necklace had been her mother's, and the last thing she had given Cara before she died.

Cara dropped the necklace and pulled in a shaky breath. Her mother had bade her to keep it with her always, protecting the vial. Cara couldn't think about the night her parents died. It brought too much guilt, too much anger, to know that the people who had loved her, cared for her, had surrendered their lives so she might live.

She glanced down to see the mushrooms she was supposed to pick. No one knew why they grew only along the path to the castle, and few braved the ghosts to harvest them. Some claimed it was magic that brought the mushrooms, and though Cara would never admit it to anyone, she thought it very well could be magic. She had volunteered to go this time because Sister Abigail needed them for little Mary's fever.

Cara loved helping the nuns with the children. It satisfied a piece of her heart that knew she would never have a child of her own. Her decision to become a nun had been a sound one. Yet there were times she felt ... incomplete. It always happened when she saw a couple about the village. She wondered what the touch of a man would feel like, what it would be like to bring her own child into the world and look into the loving eyes of her husband.

Stop it, Cara.

Aye, she needed to stop. Keeping her mind on that track would only bring her melancholy for what could never be and rage over her parents' deaths.

She began to pick the mushrooms and enjoyed the time alone that she rarely got at the nunnery. Her mind wandered, as it often did, while she plucked the shrooms from the ground.

It wasn't until her basket was nearly full and a large cloud blocked out the sun that she looked up, startled to find she was closer to the ruins than she had planned to go. She had been so intent on the mushrooms and her daydreaming that she hadn't paid attention to where she had walked. Or how long she had been out.

But now that she was at the castle, she was intrigued by it, forgetting the approaching storm. Even after three hundred years the scars from the battle and fire could still be seen in the stones.

Cara's heart hurt for everyone who had died. No one had ever discovered why the clan had been killed. Whoever had attacked had spared no one, not even a babe. The entire MacLeod clan had been wiped away in a single night.

She shuddered as if she could hear the screams and the sound of flames surrounding her. It was all in her mind, she knew, but that didn't stop the terror from taking hold. Her blood turned to ice, and fear clawed at her, begging her to run.

Yet she couldn't move.

Cara blinked and forced her gaze away from the castle to calm her racing heart as her necklace heated once more. It was so hot that she took it off and held the leather strap by two fingers. She had never feared the necklace before and rarely taken it off since her mother had placed it around her neck. However, there was something decidedly odd about it now, had been since the equinox. It looked the same, but she knew what she had felt.

The wind suddenly picked up and swirled around Cara. She gasped for breath and dropped the basket in an effort to pull the hair out of her eyes.

"Nay!" she screamed when her mother's necklace was ripped from her hands.

Cara followed the precious link to her parents as it bounced over the rocky landscape to land near the edge of the cliff.

With her heart in her throat and her hands tingling with that strange sensation again, Cara hurried to the necklace as the first fat drop of rain landed on her arm. The wind suddenly dropped in temperature. Cara glanced up to see the storm had grown larger than she had anticipated. With the breeze beginning to howl, she inched closer to the necklace.

A bolt of lightning zigzagged across the sky a heartbeat before the clouds opened up and the downpour soaked her. After several days of constant rain, the ground was already soggy and unable to hold any more water.

Cara got down on her hands and knees, uncaring of the mud that soaked her skirts, and scooted closer to the necklace. Tears coursed down her face.

Please, God, please. Don't let me lose the necklace.

She should never have taken it off, never have feared the very thing that her mother had kept close to her heart. An image of Cara's parents flashed in her mind, driving home yet again how lonely she was, how alone in the world she always would be.

"I'm not leaving without the necklace!" she screamed into the wind. Her mother had entrusted the vial to Cara's care, begging her to keep watch over it. She wouldn't let her mother down. Not now, not ever.

* * *

Lucan MacLeod stared out over the landscape he had loved since the first moment he had realized what it was as a lad. He leaned his forearm against the edge of the narrow window in his chamber in the castle that faced the south and gave him a view of the cliffs and the sea.

He never grew tired of the beauty of the Highlands, the rolling waves of the sea before it crashed into the cliffs. There was something amazing about the smell of the sea mixed with the heather and thistle. This land calmed the raging anger inside him as nothing else could.

It was the Highlands. His Highlands. And he loved it.

What he didn't love was being trapped, and that's essentially what had happened ever since he and his brothers had returned to their home over two hundred years ago.

That was their life now. And he hated it.

How many times had Lucan raged at the inability to leave the castle? How many times had he sat in his chamber as the fury over what had happened to him and his brothers consumed him? How many times had he begged God for a way to make it all go away, to free him from the dark torment that threatened his very soul?

But God wasn't listening. No one was.

They were fated to hide away from the world, watching as time changed everything around them. While they endured. Alone. Forever alone.

He briefly closed his eyes and remembered what it was like before their lives had been ripped apart. It was a lifetime ago that he had stood at that very window watching the clan, hearing the children's laughter over the roar of the waves. That time seemed like a dream now, a dream that faded with each day that passed, each beat of his heart.

As the son of the laird, Lucan had never wanted for anything. Whether it was food and drink or female company. Women had always sought him out, and he readily accepted them.

He had taken their touch, their smiles, and their bodies for granted. Now all he wanted was to feel a woman beneath him. He had forgotten what it was like to have the soft curves of a woman's flesh against him, to have her wet heat surround him as he thrust inside her.

There were times his need had been so great that he had thought of leaving the castle and finding a wench. All it took was one look at his brothers and he would remember why they had locked themselves away, why they didn't allow themselves to be seen.

Lucan and his brothers were dangerous. Not to themselves, but to everyone else. There was great evil out there, and it wanted to use them.

Over two hundred years of confinement in the castle. But what else was there? They couldn't be seen, not as they were, the monsters they had become. As the middle son, he had always been there to make peace for his brothers. A rock, solid and steady, to keep them all together, his mother had called him. He didn't allow himself to think what was becoming of him and his soul.

Fallon had taken the role as heir to the clan seriously. Everything he did, everything he thought about, was for their clan. He hadn't known what to do with himself when there was no clan, and with the beast constantly hammering for control and no way to reverse what had happened, he had turned to the wine.

As for Quinn, they had nearly lost him to the beast. Lucan snorted. Beast seemed such an understated name. There was no monster inside them. It was a primeval god banished to the pits of Hell. Apodatoo, the god of revenge, was housed within each of the MacLeod brothers. A god so ancient, there were no records or tellings of him. And he was far worse than any beast.

Whenever this despondent mood struck Lucan, as it often did when it rained, he took himself off to his chamber away from his brothers. They had their own worries. They didn't need to see him grappling with his inner demons. He could wallow in his self-pity the rest of the day if he allowed himself. But he wouldn't. His brothers needed him.

He took a deep breath and had started to turn away from the window when something caught his eye. Lucan's gaze narrowed as he spotted a breathtaking vision. It was a woman, a very young, shapely woman who had dared to come close enough to the castle that he could see the comeliness of her heart-shaped face. He wished he could see the color of her eyes, but it was enough that he saw her full lips that begged to be kissed and her high cheekbones that turned pink in the wind.

And the thick, dark braid that hung down her back to her waist. What he wouldn't do to see that hair unbound and falling about her shoulders. He fisted his hands and he imagined running his fingers through the tresses.

Her gown was plain and worn, but that didn't disguise her small waist and rounded breasts. She moved with the freedom of one who enjoyed being outdoors, of one who reveled in the beauty around her. The gentle curving of her lips as she looked out at the sea tugged at something inside him. As if she wanted the freedom to fly on the wind currents.

She picked the mushrooms with care, her fingers tender as she placed them in the basket. When she had stared at the castle, she had looked as if it pained her, as if she had known what had taken place.

Something inside him shifted, cried out for him to learn about the woman. The more he watched her, the more she intrigued him.

No one dared come this close to the castle, much less look at it with such curiosity. If he had known such a beauty was near, Lucan might have left the castle in search of her.

He ignored the wind that rushed past him, and squinted through the driving rain to watch as she suddenly cried out and chased something toward the edge of the cliff. Thunder boomed and lightning lit up the darkening sky. Already they had had so much rain.

"What are you doing?" his younger brother, Quinn, asked as he walked into the chamber and moved to stand beside Lucan. Quinn looked out the window. "God's blood. Is she daft?"


Excerpted from Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant. Copyright © 2010 Donna Grant. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.


Meet the Author

Donna Grant has been praised for her "totally addictive" and "unique and sensual" stories. She's the author of more than twenty novels spanning multiple genres of romance - Scottish Medieval, dark fantasy, time travel, paranormal, and erotic. Grant's newest series, Dark Sword, promises to be her most addictive yet. Don't miss this intoxicating series with Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders that are dark, dangerous, and delicious.
She lives in Texas with her husband, two children, a dog, and three cats where she's weathered five hurricanes in the last three years.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her “totally addictive” and “unique and sensual” stories. She’s written more than thirty novels spanning multiple genres of romance including the bestselling Dark King stories, Dark Craving, Night’s Awakening, and Dawn’s Desire. Her acclaimed series, Dark Warriors, feature a thrilling combination of Druids, primeval gods, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children, a dog, and four cats in Texas.

"Dark, sexy, magical. When I want to indulge in a sizzling fantasy adventure, I read Donna Grant."

--Allison Brennan, New York Times Bestselling Author

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Dangerous Highlander (Dark Sword Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 248 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Roman legions overwhelm Britannia including the Highlands. The Celtic tribes turn to the Druids for help. The Drough Druids use the dark magic of human sacrifice enabling them to free ancient evil gods from hell who repels the Romans. Afterward the Druids are unable to send the gods back to hell so they trap them inside of Warriors who are unaware what has become part of their heritage from generation to generation. Three centuries ago the powerful MacLeod clan is destroyed in a single night. No one claimed credit for the massacre. However, three brothers who were away, Quinn, Lucan and Fallon searched for the source. Instead they became prisoners of the culprit, Deirdre the Drough, who thirsts for power to dominate the earth through the release of the evil gods, but eventually they escaped. In 1603, Cara the orphan picks mushrooms near Castle MacLeod when her mother's heirloom falls off her neck and she falls off a cliff during a nasty storm. Lucan who, with his siblings, resides in the castle saves her life. When Deidre sends her wyrren and Warriors to capture Cara and the heirloom called Demon's Kiss, the MacLeod siblings save her from the monsters who killed everyone else in the village. As Lucan and Cara fall in love, Deirdre continues to send her beasts after them as she needs the woman, the heirloom, and the brothers to complete her quest. This is a super historical romantic fantasy that grips readers from the onset and never slows down yet introduces the underlying premise, a strong support cast (the good, the bad and the monsters) and a terrific lead couple inside of vividly described realm. Fans will appreciate Donna Grant's great opening Dark Sword while looking forward to the adventures in love and supernatural war starring the drunken widower Fallen the Laird of no clan and raging Quinn whose anger remains stratospheric. Harriet Klausner
ErinORiordan More than 1 year ago
I don't usually give five stars to romance novels, but by chapter three I was completely hooked on this series. The three MacLeod brothers--eldest Fallon, middle brother Lucan, and youngest Quinn--are simply irresistible. It's not just that they're gorgeous Scottish Highlanders, either. Thanks to the workings of ancient Druid magic, originally used to fend off the Romans, the three brothers share an ancient god trapped inside them. A madwoman seeks to capture them because of this, and because of their secret, their clan was slaughtered. For three hundred years, the immortal brothers lived alone in the ruins of their castle with only their vengeful god for company. When an innocent young nun-in-training, Cara, ventures near their forbidden hold, she senses there's something magical about the place, but she never expects to fall in love with one of the brothers. This book was the perfect blend of romance and sword and sorcery, with moments of action but also a great heart, great chemistry, and an unforgettable band of brothers.
Raonaid More than 1 year ago
Dangerous Highlander is Donna Grant’s introduction novel in her Dark Sword series. The premise about druids being in the book/story was the ultimate decision for me picking up this book and reading it. Highlanders close second. For a person who has been fascinating and obsessed with druids (fifteen years) I was lured to the story, curious to see Donna’s take on them. And I will admit the twist she took with the druids met with approval (from me). She’s also melded beautifully paranormal elements with historical, something I have not seen too often in books. It is either historical or paranormal, not the two genres blended together as one. Donna also created the most unforgettable villain – one that makes a reader despise her, rooting for the good guys to vanquish her. She sets the pace for the Dark Sword books, explaining the roles the druid played, the reason they did what they did to selected few before introducing the waif Cara – who holds unbeknownst to her a valuable secret and Lucan – one of the three Macleod brothers. Neither expected to fall in love, nor did Cara expect there was more to her that met the eye.
scouty54 More than 1 year ago
Donna Grant's Dark Sword Series started out with an A+ Bang with this book. It was different, but then again, the paranormal Scotland Highlander Warrior was new to me. Basically I read this book because I love romance stories set in Scotland. Lucan is a great character, and a great hero, and the heroine Cara, is a strong female character. Thank goodness she isn't another weepy, help me Big Guy-type of girl. There were lots of action scenes as I guess paranormal genre seem to have, but they were easy to read and quite exciting. Lucan and his 2 brothers were not hidden monsters as I thought from the title, just have powers they can call upon. I highly recommend this book, and I have started reading the second book in the series, Forbidden Highlander, that already seems to be better than the first one, and the Dangerous Highlander was a great book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just stumbled on this book and it turned out to be a really good book. I am looking forward to the next in the series to see how it turns out. It drew me in from the very beginning and kept me going till the end. It is a very good read and an interesting twist on Druidhs and Historical romance/paranormal fiction. You will not be dissapointed in it!
kayq More than 1 year ago
The plot was exciting as well as the characters. This was a fast read as it captured the attention with the thrills and excitement provided. I would completely recommend this to anyone that enjoys the paranormal. The imagination in this read is really great.
Rhoduh55 More than 1 year ago
Love this historical romantic fantasy. The sex scene are a little too much and too often but the overall storyline is very compelling. I bought the next 2 books in the series and read them both the same day!
robinky More than 1 year ago
If you love highlanders you will love this book. A highlander who has been cursed who finds the love of a lifetime. This is a great book, a great series wrote by a wonderful author.
JA_Bal More than 1 year ago
I'll admit that this story is a little original and unusual in it's supernatural nature. But that doesn't make it any less interesting. Instead of vampires or werewolves, Grant employs a god-like spirit from ancient times - brought into existence by the druids. Of course once these powerful spirits are brought here, they cannot be sent back. What seemed like a way to hide them deep inside warriors is only a temporary solution when the secret ends up in the wrong hangs. The Macleods will be the first to deal with it, but not the last. It wasn't just the hot romance that brought me into this one. I find myself having to know what is going to happen to each of the brothers - or to the friends they find. They have a unique problem and immortality to deal with. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historic/paranormal romances.
jeannietone More than 1 year ago
When starting a new series i like to start from #1 so i decided to try this series. Haven't read a highlander series in a while. I totally loved the characters and the historical aspects of this book loved the twist on the druids. I am going to get the book copy... Yep definate buy. Jeanette Platt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didnt know what this was about when i bought this story. Its just not my interest. If you like sci-fi, occult, monsters.....this is well written
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Good story line
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BookwormBridgetteBlogger More than 1 year ago
*******WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS******* This was the 9th Donna Grant book I had begun reading with high hopes as the others had me in a spell the entire time I was reading, I just couldn't put it down!! I loved learning about the MacLeods and seeing Lucan so protective was this awesome feeling, however, throughout this story I could not help but be drawn more to Fallon. The sad lonely heart that was him made me feel like he would be an awesome story... Don't get me wrong, Lucan's story did not disappoint me in any way... I was on my toes when ~*~SPOILER~*~[Cara fell from the cliff, and then again when she was running away, I am so glad Galen was a good guy. I cried when I thought she was going to leave him and disappear... So happy Lucan found her!! I was even more in shock to learn that she was a druid! I figured something was up when the necklace heated and moved, but to find out her mother was a drough... makes me wonder if maybe the drough were not all horrible, but just used different types of magic... idk, ] either way... this story was a great one, beginning to end so romantic and each part well thought and written so that the words just flowed from the page into my head!
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Denise23b More than 1 year ago
A great start to a book series. Did not want to put it down. As soon as I finished, I picked up book two, Forbidden Highlander. I did not know what kind of genre I liked until I picked up a Donna Grant book about six months ago.
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