When passion flares between two enemies...the Highland ignite!
Two hotheaded Highlanders, the offspring of feuding lairds, are tricked by the King's Regent into a desperate choice: marry or die. Bhaic MacPherson is more disposed to lead his clan into battle than stay married to the daughter of his enemy. But perhaps the intensity of his feelings has more to do with desire than hostility.
Ailis Robertson wanted a husband, not a savage—but when her family was faced with a deadly ultimatum, she had no choice. The union of a MacPherson and a Robertson could end three generations of hostilities between the two families, but can bitter rivals truly become lovers?
Praise for The Highlander's Bride Trouble:
"Marvelous...Wine's novel reaches the very core of Scottish romance...rapid pace, wonderful prose, and deeply emotional scenes." —RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick
"An absolute delight! Scottish Medieval fans are sure to be in awe." —My Book Addiction and More
"Totally lovely... A must-read for anyone who enjoys Highlander romance." —The Romance Reviews
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By Mary Wine
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2016 Mary Wine
All rights reserved.
"Ye're as headstrong as yer mother was."
Ailis stretched up to kiss her father on the cheek before flashing his captain a smile of victory. Her father rolled his eyes then offered her a hand to help her up onto the back of her mare. The horse tossed its mane as Ailis took the reins in a steady grip.
Laird Liam Robertson's beard was gray and thin, but he still held himself proudly as two hundred of his men assembled to ride out with him. Behind them, Robertson Castle basked in the golden light of morning. The hills were green, and the sound of rushing water filled the air — the rivers were full with melting snow. It was too soon for heather or flowers, but Ailis could smell the changing season in the air. She lifted her face and let the sun warm her nose for the first time in weeks. She was tired of having to huddle close to the hearth to chase the cold from her flesh or pull her wrap up to avoid the frigid wind.
"I was invited," Ailis reminded her father.
"So ye were, but I do no' like the man — even if he is the king's regent — telling me how to direct me own daughter. His business should be with me. No' a woman."
Her father puffed out his chest in a display of authority, but she could see the acquiescence in his eyes. He may not have agreed with the new regent, but he did like to grant her requests when there was no solid reason to deny her.
It made it so easy to love him. She smiled, and he groaned, his Highlander pride requiring some form of bluster to make sure everyone knew he'd at least argued against complying completely with the summons.
"Maybe the man will take the tale of how fetching ye are back to court. It's time ye wed," the laird continued.
"Of course it is, Father," Ailis agreed demurely.
Her father pointed at the twinkle in her eyes. "Just like yer mother," he accused, then climbed onto the back of his horse. "I had to court her for two seasons before she agreed to me suit." He held up two time-weathered fingers. "Two! As if I had naught better to do with me time."
The Robertson retainers making ready to ride laughed with their laird.
The men were looking forward to the journey. They wanted to stretch their legs too. Highlanders might enjoy telling stories by the fireside, but their true love was creating those tales. They jested with one another as their kilts swayed with their motions. The horses shook their heads, adjusting to their bridles and stamping impatiently on the cobblestones in the inner yard. Ailis's mother had insisted on the cobblestones, to keep the mud out of the castle. Ailis had heard the Grants were going to lay stone during the summer because it worked so well.
She lifted her chin and inhaled the scent of new greenery. The last thing she had on her mind was a husband. Ailis was almost sure her father agreed with her, but as a daughter of the laird, it was her duty to think of alliances. So her sire would make the expected comments from time to time. The truth was he didn't want her to go anywhere, and the stack of offers sitting in his study remained untouched. No regent needed to carry tales about her back to court. Offers had been arriving since she'd turned fifteen. But in the last two years, her father hadn't opened a single one, only asked her if he should.
That was a blessing — one many girls didn't enjoy. She looked at the men making ready to ride out with her father, searching among their hard bodies for anything that might stir a longing inside her for marriage.
All she felt was a sense of approval for their forms.
Well, at least she was not repulsed by men. She just wasn't overly interested in them. So marriage could wait another season.
But going out for a springtime ride to meet the Earl of Morton at the abbey sounded fine. She adored her childhood home, but the winter had been long, and she wanted to walk and feel the sun on her skin.
She would be very happy to return when their meeting was concluded.
* * *
Laird Shamus MacPherson wasn't one to admit that his hair was thinning. But he had taken to wearing a thick wool bonnet, even when sitting at his desk in his study while a fire crackled behind him in the hearth. Bhaic MacPherson watched his father read the message in front of him and growl at it.
"I'll go see the new regent meself," Shamus decided.
Bhaic didn't interrupt. Shamus MacPherson was busy poking the Earl of Morton's summons where it lay on the table. "Bloody waste of time. How like a lowlander regent to think everyone has time to squander on foolish ceremonies, such as riding down from the Highlands to reaffirm the peace. As if I do nae know who me king is!"
"I'll be riding with ye, Father," Bhaic told his sire and laird.
Shamus looked at him and frowned. "I refuse to let that man waste yer time as well. It will fall on yer shoulders soon enough, this duty to ignore what truly needs doing in favor of riding off to meet with whatever man has managed to bribe enough fellow councillors to gain the position of regent. It is nae as if we've had a king that lasted any too long."
"At least we have a king, and no' his mother."
"Bhaic MacPherson —"
Bhaic answered his father in a firm tone. "Do nae scold me for saying what everyone is thinking. I'm a Highlander, nae some lowland Scot more concerned with appearances than maintaining his honor."
His father nodded, pride lighting his eyes. "Ye are right there, me lad. Right as rain in the summer." Shamus stood up, tugging his doublet down. "Mary Stuart may have been a queen of Scotland, but it's a king we really need. So we will have to put up with regents until young James is old enough to manage. I'll do me duty and ride out to meet his regent, and judge his mood. Maybe this one will last until the boy is grown."
"I would nae count too much upon that," Bhaic warned his father. "The earl is the fourth regent, and the king is only seven years old." He stood and shook out his shoulders. "So I'll be going along to meet this regent. I want a look at him meself."
"Very well, no doubt that's wise," his father said as he came around the table and walked toward the doors that opened into the great hall. Two MacPherson retainers stood guard, reaching up to pull on their bonnets when their laird appeared. Shamus started down the aisle toward the doors with a determined pace, the maids they passed all lowering themselves before returning to the duty of clearing away the remains of the morning meal. The great hall was still full of long tables and benches that welcomed all the inhabitants of the castle at mealtimes.
"Yes, it's wise of ye to ride along with me to meet this regent," Shamus continued for the benefit of those listening. "Ye are making sure ye are seen, so there will be no question who will become the next laird of the MacPhersons."
"There never was a question of that, Father, and it is nae why I am riding out with ye," Bhaic stated. "It's because ye are me laird, no' just me sire."
His father turned and winked. "But, me boy, I fully enjoyed begetting ye!" There were a few muffled chuckles from the retainers close enough to hear. Shamus's eyes twinkled with merriment as he finished making his way to the huge double doors of the outer wall.
The yard beyond the open doors of the keep was full of horses already. MacPherson retainers were busy making ready to ride out with their laird. Many of the lowland Scots had taken to wearing britches instead of kilts, but the MacPherson men wore their colors proudly.
Bhaic grinned. The lowland Scots called him a savage, but he enjoyed knowing they feared him. His colors were a constant reminder that he was part of something more than just his own family. No man wore the colors of the MacPherson without earning the right by conducting himself with honor. There was no greater shame to a Highlander than being stripped of his kilt.
The lowland Scots were welcome to their britches. Let their regent see the MacPhersons in their kilts.
He was a MacPherson and a Highlander. Let them worry about his mood.
* * *
The Earl of Morton was a rough man.
He'd seen his share of the harder side of life. That fact accounted for the task he was embarking on today. He'd dressed for the occasion, wearing a thick leather over-doublet to protect against smaller blades.
He lifted one gauntlet-clad hand and pointed at the forest surrounding the abbey. "Make sure our men are posted along that line of trees. I want musket and pike there — these Highlanders must know they are surrounded, or we'll have a bloodbath."
"Might have that anyway," his captain remarked. "They are Highlanders. Not likely to bend."
"Today, they are going to put being Scotsmen above their clan loyalties."
The captain didn't correct his noble lord, but he surely didn't agree with the man. Highlanders were different. Only a man living inside a palace would be so naive about that.
* * *
Ailis leaned low over the neck of her mare when the abbey came into view. The older portion, which had been built a century before, was crumbling. She tucked in her heels and let the horse have its freedom. The animal raced down the hill, across the meadow, and through the remaining arches of the old medieval church.
"Ailis!" her father scolded, still up on the hillside where the forest thinned.
She lifted her arm and waved to him, then slid from the saddle with a happy smile on her lips.
The tone of her father's voice had changed. It sent a chill down her spine, and she turned to look back. His retainers were surging down the hillside, their teeth bared and their kilts flapping with the motion of their horses. They were riding hard, but there was no way to reach her before the men waiting behind her made their move.
She jumped back, making a grab for her horse, but one of them had already taken the animal's reins, which left her facing six men. She pulled a small dagger from where she'd tucked it in the top of her sleeve.
They converged on her. She got off only one jab before she was trapped. She struggled against the hold on her arms, straining to break free, but she knew it was hopeless. She'd ridden straight into a trap — and her kin were honor bound to try and rescue her.
Ye are such a fool!
Berating herself didn't change the fact that there were hard fingers digging into her flesh. Or that she could smell the scent of horses and gunpowder on her captors. The sun shone cheerfully, and the grass was growing, but she felt the cold kiss of steel against her throat.
It seemed surreal, like a dream spun in her ear by a fae while she napped on the grass in the afternoon of a long summer day.
But the men holding her were real. Their breeches frightened her the most because it meant they were not Highlanders. She strained against their hold, snarling as she tried to break free.
"Stay back if you do not want her blood spilled!" the one holding her said.
Her heart was pounding, and sweat trickled down the side of her face from her struggle, but the blade against her throat was too terrifying to fight against. She could feel how sharp it was, feel it already slicing into the surface of her tender skin.
"Hold!" her father yelled. The first of his retainers had made it to the arches. They jumped from their saddles and had their swords drawn before her father's voice halted their impulse to rescue her. They froze, pure, raw fury in their eyes.
Guilt fell on her like a stone. It was crushing, burning its way through her as she witnessed the distress she'd caused by being impulsive. There would be blood spilled, and it was her fault for leaving her escort behind.
She'd known the cost of such recklessness since she was eight years old and had made the mistake of wandering during a spring festival. The memory normally chilled her blood; today, it was already near freezing.
"The earl is waiting for you, Laird Robertson," her captor said.
"I will nae be meeting with a man who sends his men to put a blade to me daughter's throat!" her father declared.
"Your daughter is in no danger."
Ailis shifted her gaze to find the newcomer. He stood over to one side, flanked by a dozen men with black-powder guns all aimed at her father and kin.
"I do nae agree with ye, boy," her father retorted. "Tell yer men to get their hands off me child. I thought it was only the bloody MacPhersons we had to worry about."
"How very interesting to hear you say that name." The man gestured to the men holding her, and they marched her toward him. "I am the Earl of Morton, Regent for James VI of Scotland." He studied her for a long moment before looking past her to her father. "Let us go inside to discuss this."
Ailis didn't have any choice. She was muscled through the garden that fed the inhabitants of the abbey and into the kitchens.
The bruising grips on her arms didn't bother her half as much as the knowledge that her kin were being drawn after her. Better her throat had been slit in the garden.
For now, she was the bait.
"Do nae —" She turned her head and screamed, but the man holding her clamped his hand over her mouth, smothering her warning.
Aye, she'd rather be dead than watch her father's men coming after her.
She deserved death for being so foolish.
But she very much feared that she was going to be forced to live through the consequences of her actions.
* * *
"Bloody Robertsons," a MacPherson retainer snarled.
"At least we do nae hide behind skirts," a Robertson growled back.
Ailis looked over to see the other side of the church filled with the tartan of her father's enemy, the MacPherson. More men stood guard over them with long muskets. The MacPhersons looked as furious as her kin did. But they were outnumbered by the earl's men, who surrounded the entire abbey, more of them posted in the alcoves above to ensure they had a clear shot at their prisoners.
"Regent or nae, ye're a bloody coward." Her father's voice bounced around the inside the abbey. It was built of dark stone, making it seem like a cave. The stained glass windows served only to darken the sanctuary even further. The earl's men removed the blade from her throat and marched her up the aisle to the front pew.
"What I am is a man set on a course of action," the earl said as he stood at the front of the church. There wasn't a hint of remorse in his expression. Two priests stood at the altar, their fingers moving on the prayer beads hanging from their belts.
"Only a coward uses a man's daughter," her father protested.
"Or a man who is ready to crawl out of the barbaric traditions you Highlanders cling to," the earl answered. "I needed your attention, and now I have it."
"I'll nae leave behind me honor in favor of a man who hides behind a woman," one of the MacPhersons argued. He stood up, boldly offering his chest to the gunners.
"Instead, you would all continue to fight over something that happened more than three generations ago?" the earl asked.
Ailis found herself biting her lower lip. It was the truth, and she was slightly shamed when she was forced to hear it spoken aloud. Three generations was a long time — there was no denying it.
"It's none of yer concern," the MacPherson insisted. He was a large man, with midnight-black hair. Unlike a number of his clansmen, his face was scraped clean. Attached to the side of his bonnet were three feathers, two of them pointing straight up. It was Laird Shamus MacPherson's son, Bhaic, which accounted for his boldness. He would be the next Laird MacPherson. The feathers confirmed that he was the clan Tanis. It was more than blood that put him in line for the lairdship; the rest of the clan's leaders had voted him into the position.
"Join Mistress Ailis in the front pew," the earl ordered.
Bhaic smiled, showing off even white teeth, and crossed his arms over his chest. He had his shirtsleeves pulled up, granting her a view of his muscular arms. A touch of heat stroked her cheeks, and she looked back at the earl.
"Shoot me where I stand," Bhaic taunted. "If ye've got the balls to."
"Mind yer mouth, MacPherson, me daughter is present."
Bhaic shrugged. "I am nae the fool who brought a woman along."
"The Regent is the one who insisted me daughter come along!" her father protested. "For a man who thinks we Highlanders are stuck in the Middle Ages, Lord Morton, ye are the one acting like a savage. I never thought to question the terms of yer message as if ye were some sort of English scum."
Excerpted from Highland Spitfire by Mary Wine. Copyright © 2016 Mary Wine. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thought this book was excellent. I finished it in one day because I was captivated by the tension between the two main characters. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
The book was fine, butbhe main character kept gagging for all of her reactions. She saw soldiers and gagged. She saw his ex mistress and gagged etc. It was just a weird reaction that took away from the scene. Otherwise it was ok, but not her best.
Another great one from Ms. Wine. Funny and charming. Loved it.
This book started strong but got pretty boring halfway through where certain things felt rushed but other things unexplored. Book is under 200 pages, so probably would of been better if longer. Hated the issue of consummating the marriage, they were interrupted like five times and it became the main focus of the book. Took away from the story.
Great story and we'll developed.
Another fantastic highland romance from Mary Wine! HIGHLAND SPITFIRE pits the MacPhersons against the Robertson clans and to stop the endless feuding, the Queens Regent has ordered a marriage alliance between the two warring clans. Ailis Robertson is quick to agree in order to save her father from the hanging that will follow if she does not. Bhaic MacPherson reluctantly agrees much for the same reason. Despite fierce opposition to her presence in the MacPherson castle, Ailis holds her head high and does her absolute best to make this alliance work. She works without complaint and refuses to show fear in the face of the "enemy." She's definitely the "highland spitfire" as the title suggests. Bhaic is a fearsome warrior with a patient, loving heart beneath his tough exterior. He is patient with Ailis and understanding of the foreign situation she finds herself in. Bhaic is incredibly protective of those he loves and a typical brawny, brutish highlander, but he wants a willing wife, not a miserable one so he is willing to put aside his ways to woo his wife. Together and after several trials, Ailis and Bhaic feel intense passion for each other. Ailis is a little scared of the large warrior and Bhaic is unexpectedly overwhelmed at the thought of losing her, but nothing can stop the love that develops between these two enemies-to-lovers. The world-building in this novel is phenomenal and the heat is off the charts! Mary Wine always does a fantastic job of drawing her readers into a deep, historical story that ensures a scintillating love story. Plot Twist Reviews [dot] Com I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
What a great start to a new series!! A next in line highland laird and a "spitfire" daughter from a feuding clan. With a clash like this one, and an accomplished author like Mary Wine, I just knew it is going to be a book that I could not put down until the last page. "Highland Spitfire" had great flow with developing characters and backstory in the telling of the fighting between clans. Bhaic MacPherson and Ailis Robertston were a wonderful pairing and I look forward to reading the next in the series. If you love scottish highlander books, this one is highly recommended. Thank You to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Casablanca for gifting me with an ARC of "Highland Spitfire" and only asking for an honest review. 4.5 Stars!
Absolutely love Mary Wine's books! Love her character interaction and wit. Can't wait to read Marcus' story!
It was hard to believe this book was written by Mary Wine. It very obviously was not written in her style. The story did not flow well at all. It skipped from one thought to a completely different one, from one feeling to a completely different one, from one passage to another until you weren't sure if you'd skipped a page. The love scenes were nothing like Mary Wine and instead of captivating you and pulling you in, they just left you wanting to hurry through them. In fact I hurried to the end of the book and wanted to just be done with it. It felt like the author did as well. In general, the characters were not likeable and the author seemed schizophrenic with their personalities. If this author keeps writing for Ms. Wine, you can be assured I won't be purchasing anymore of her books.
This is book one in the Highland Weddings series. The MacPhersons and the Robertsons, two warring clans, are called for a meeting with the Queen's Regent. He is determined to stop the fighting between the clans with a marriage: the son of the McPherson and the daughter of the Robertson. They are married immediately, but are soon living apart with their own families, both determined to get an annulment. But a meeting at a local fair changes all that. They agree to try and make their marriage work. But can these two people, who have grown up being taught to hate one another, make a real marriage after they were forced together? I really enjoyed this story!! I liked that Wine had them spend the time right after their marriage separated from one another. If gave them both time to get use to the idea of being married to the enemy and to decide what would be best for their clans. I really liked Ailis was willing to do anything to save her clan. Once she stepped up, then it kinda forced Bhaic to to do the same. Once they decided to make a go of their marriage, Ailis did everything in her power to fit into her new life and new clan. Her new clan didn't make is easy on her but she persisted. Love a strong heroine!! I'm excited to see what Wine has in store for us with the next book in the series. I'm not certain when it will be out, but it is definitely on my to read list! Thanks go out to Sourcebooks via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Highland Spitfire by Mary Wine Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Publication Date: February 2, 2016 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley ***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers*** Summary (from Goodreads): In the throes of fierce clan wars, the Queen's Regent tricks the children of two feuding lairds into a desperate choice: marry or die. The union—however reluctant—of a MacPherson and a Robertson could end three generations of hostilities between the two families. Ailis Robertson wanted a husband, not a savage. But she is overwhelmed by the intense passion she feels for Bhaic—who is likewise taken aback by the agony he experiences when he thinks of losing Ailis. Is it possible for fierce enemies to become ardent lovers? What I Liked: First thing - I absolutely love that cover! I know the cover is a separate thing from the actual story, but I love it when a cover is beautiful AND the story is amazing! Seriously, that is a cover worth having on your shelves, and a story worth reading. Double the win! The Earl of Morton threatens two of the feuding clans of the Highlands: ensure peace between the clans, or there will be a bloodbath. Ailis Robertson, daughter of the Robertson clan leader, and Bhiac MacPherson, son and heir of the MacPherson clan leader, agree to marry, to save the bloodshed. Neither wants the marriage, and Ailis doesn't want to live on MacPherson lands. While the passion and chemistry between the pair boils over, will they be able to put aside their old ways of thinking, and be happy together? I am a huge fan of Highlanders, Highlands, Scottish romance, etc., but I don't read nearly enough of them. I'm also a huge fan of marriage of convenience romance books. So I knew this book would be right up my alley. The gorgeous cover did not hurt one bit! Talk about authenticity and world-building - the setting of this book was well written and well researched! Also it was different and lovely to see the Scottish accents so clearly spoken in this book. I got used to it after a while and I really liked this! From the start, I liked Ailis. I've struggled a bit with the female protagonists of the recent historical romance novels that I've read, but I had no trouble liking Ailis. She's tough and fierce, but not to the point where it's anachronistic. She knows when to defer to her father, and when the Queen's Regent orders her to marry Bhiac MacPherson, she hates it but does it to minimize bloodshed. Ailis has no desire to leave her clan, nor does she want to consummate the marriage. Ailis is truly the spitfire we expect from the book's title, but she is also sweet and naively innocent, which Bhiac adores. Bhiac is a Highland warrior through and through. Ailis saw him as a savage at first - tall, thickly muscular, commanding, protective, every each the heir and Tanis of the MacPherson clan. Bhiac is one of the most honorable male protagonists I've "met", despite being a brutish, brawny Highland prince (of a sort). He feels just as trapped as Ailis, and he never tries to force her to do anything, or exert his husband rights on her. He isn't forceful, though he does expect some behaviors from her. He is more interested in wooing her, in having a willing wife, than a submissive and miserable wife. I love Bhiac! Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Feuds in the highlands can make the Hatfields and McCoys look like playground spats. And the MacPhersons and Robertsons have been feuding for generations with no apparent end in sight. With threats to Scotland coming from all sides, the last thing the Queen needs or wants is bitter infighting. Dispatching her regent with a simple order: bring the clans together with a wedding… and we are off. Ailis Robertson is feisty, loyal and fierce, determined to have a life that both suits the clan and perhaps brings her some personal happiness. She wants to marry and find love, but with a man, not a savage being from a clan she’s been taught to hate and fear all of her life. Bhaic MacPherson is a feared warrior in battle, a loyal clansman and at heart, truly kind. Not loving the idea of a forced marriage, he finds Ailis admirable and courageous. He’s going to make the best of the situation to respect his clan’s decree, he just didn’t expect to fall in love with the enemy. Mary Wine uses emotions we can all relate to: a desire for acceptance, a fear of the unknown, a determination to make the best of a situation you aren’t particularly thrilled with because the choice is untenable. Combine this with a tentative getting to know you phase that is spurred onward by an obvious physical attraction, finding these two slowly unveiling themselves and allowing their attraction to grow. Both Bhaic and Ailis are determined, honest and courageous: understanding that the future of Scotland relies on the cooperation of the clans and they are willing, eventually, to do their part. The characters are the highlight in this story: moving us through an obviously difficult and tense situation for both of them, while displaying their own personalities as the story progresses. With so many issues playing into their relationship, it does take a while for them to come to realize that despite being thrown together rather ungraciously and without choice, they are wonderfully well suited and truly do enjoy one another: disproving years of untruths and distrust that fueled the strife between the clans. A wonderful start to a new series, I’m ready for the next! I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Mary Wine knows her way around a highland feud and demonstrates this with her fabulous writing skills in the first book of her Highland Weddings series, Highland Spitfire. Watching her characters resentment from being forced into marriage to each other turn into love was a delight. The hero and heroine’s strength and ability in confronting adversity in all forms and fronts kept the pace of this book quick and exciting. Hot tempers and fiery attraction created an unavoidable, breathtaking surrender to love in true Mary Wine style! *I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*