Kidnap in the Highlands!
The morn of her wedding, Arabella Cameron is filled with dread. But if marrying a man she doesn't love will end the feud between the Cameron and Mackintosh clans, she will do her duty. That is until outlaw Brodie Mackintosh arrives in her bedchamber and steals her away to the mountains!
Brodie knows Arabella has every reason to hate him, but a forbidden kiss soon makes these sworn enemies question everything. And when Arabella's intended reclaims her, Brodie must fight with all his strength to make her his once more!
A Highland Feuding
Rival clans, forbidden love
About the Author
When USA TODAY bestselling author Terri Brisbin is not being a glamorous romance author or in a deadline-writing-binge-o'-mania, she's a wife, mom, GRANDMOM and dental hygienist in the southern NJ area. A three-time RWA RITA® finalist, Terri has had more than 45 historical and paranormal romance novels, novellas and short stories published since 1998. You can visit her website: www.terribrisbin.com to learn more about her.
Read an Excerpt
Arabella Cameron understood how the layer of ice on a frozen lake felt. The smile she held on her face as another Mackintosh offered a poem about her beauty would crack soon, just as that brittle ice did when hit by a stone. She did not hold out much hope that she could keep smiling as the words reached a new level of ridiculous praise. The tip of her nose tingled and the worry over her face cracking disappeared when presented with the larger concern of laughing.
Drawing in a slow breath, she blinked several times, hoping the danger of being impertinent or disrespectful would pass soon. As she raised her eyes, Arabella was horrified to meet the dark and brooding gaze of Brodie Mackintosh. Seated at the end of the table to her right, the older of the two men who were possible heirs to The Mackintosh stared back at her, not flinching and not looking away. In the short time since they'd met, she did not ever remember him smiling.
Nothing in his mahogany-brown eyes gave her any indication of how he felt about these men regaling their clans with tales of her beauty and graciousness. Or how he felt about her. Or the possibility that they might, within a few months, be man and wife. Distracted by his intense stare, she had not noticed the poem had ended or that the room silenced in anticipation of her reaction.
Until he turned his glance away and angled his head towards Towards the Mackintosh bard who had stopped speaking and now looked expectantly at her, awaiting her reaction to his words. Arabella nodded and clapped her hands.
'I am honoured by your kind words ' She could not remember his name.
'Dougal was not being kind, Lady Arabella,' Caelan Mackintosh interrupted. Seated to her left, he met her gaze and winked, knowing she'd forgotten the bard's name. 'He was speaking the truth as we all see it to be.' She turned back to the man who'd spoken and nodded.
'Still, I am honoured by your praise, Dougal. And I thank you for composing and sharing it with our clans.'
The bard bowed and returned to his seat amidst the cheering of those gathered for this feast. Caelan leaned in closer and whispered so that others did not hear.
'You have bewitched all of the Mackintoshes with your beauty and grace, Arabella. The Camerons could have won this feud long ago if they'd used you as their secret weapon.' He touched her hand, a slight caress, and then lifted his cup to his mouth, all the while his gaze never straying from hers. 'You have bewitched me.'
She'd heard these words before. She'd been praised for her beauty, a gift from the Almighty that had nothing to do with her own accomplishments, all of her life. But watching Caelan's piercing blue eyes deepen as he spoke now made her want to feel something for them. She wanted to believe them.
He offered her his cup, turning it so that her lips would touch the place where his had been. Arabella allowed this gesture, this small intimacy, from the man she might marry. The corners of his mouth curved into an enticing smile as she drank the wine. The heat that spread throughout her was not from the strong wine but from the way Caelan watched as she swallowed and licked her lip where a drop yet remained. He leaned closer as though he would dare a kiss, here, now, and she held her breath, waiting.
The crashing sound of metal hitting the stone floor startled her and she turned towards the interruption. Brodie leaned over and picked up his heavy cup and placed it back on the table. Whether done a-purpose or by accident, it had ruined the moment between her and Caelan. And any hopes of rekindling it were dashed when her father spoke.
'Yer aunt awaits ye there, Arabella. Seek yer chambers.'
Although she might have challenged her father were they in their own keep and with only her clan present, she would never do so here and now. Not with so much depending on her being an obedient, dutiful daughter whose only task was to save their clan from continuing slaughter and destruction.
Forming that hated smile back on to her features, she rose and curtsied to her father and to The Mackintosh, before walking around the table and down the steps. Her aunt Devorgilla stood there, watching her every move. No doubt, there would be instructions this night about her behaviour and appearance. Arabella nodded and smiled at anyone who spoke or whispered her name as she passed and her gra-ciousness, after so many hours of being forced to it, tired her.
With a servant leading the way with a torch, she followed through the corridor and up the stairs to the chamber assigned to her for her stay here. Once there, she waited for only a moment to pass after the door closed before collapsing on the bed, allowing her face to relax from the hours of tortuous smiling. Pressing her palms against her cheeks, she knew what would come next.
'You sat too close to the one and ignored the other, Arabella.' Even with her eyes closed, she could tell from the changing direction of the high-pitched voice that her aunt was pacing around the edge of the bed. 'You must not be seen to favour one over the other.'
'Aye, Aunt Devorgilla,' she said without opening her eyes.
'You were not paying attention during that last poem. You must not show disrespect to the Mackintosh's bard or his harpist or his'
'I understand, Aunt Devorgilla,' she said before her aunt went on. 'And my mother would be terribly shamed by my lack of manners at the feast and by not paying enough heed to your warnings ' Those words and more poured out of her and from the silence, Arabella knew she was not the only shocked person in the room.
'Child,' her aunt whispered. 'Your mother would be proud of you. Proud that you are carrying out the duty you were born to fulfil.' Her aunt's voice grew deep with emotion and Arabella raised her head to look at her mother's youngest sister. 'She would be proud that you are doing your duty when it would be easier not to. When it means you must live the rest of your life among our enemies.'
'Aunt Gillie,' she said. The tears would not be held back now. 'I am so sorry. I did not mean to act the wilful child to you. I value your advice, I truly do. I am exhausted and will be ready to face this on the morrow.'
'Here now, child,' her aunt said, stepping behind her. 'Let me help you ready for bed.'
'Nay. I can call for Ailean to help me.' Her younger cousin served as her companion and her maid when needed.
'Hush now,' her aunt said, unlacing her ties and loosening the gown and tunic she wore. Soon Arabella stood in only her shift. When her aunt began to unravel the long braid of her hair, she sighed. 'Sit,' her aunt directed.
First, her aunt slid her fingers into the woven tresses and then she used a brush to ease out the snarls and knots. Each moment eased the tension within Arabella and allowed the exhaustion to creep closer to controlling her. Her eyes drooped closed and her body began to relax. All her worries drifted away with each long stroke of the brush through her hair.
'What are the plans on the morrow?' Forced to think of her future and the uncertainty of it, Arabella sighed again.
'A ride with Caelan in the morn and one with Brodie after the noon meal. Worry not, Aunt Gillie, Ailean will accompany me at all times when we leave the keep.'
'I do not worry over your safety, child. I worry over your heart.' The brush stopped and her aunt stepped away. Arabella turned to face her and found a sadness in her eyes she'd not seen before. 'Do not let your heart be engaged with either of these Mackintoshes until their elders decide on which will be tanist here. It will only lead to heartbreak and pain in the years to come.'
'Aunt Gillie, what?' This was something unexpected. Something surprising and clearly with more of a story than she'd heard about.
'No matter, Arabella,' her aunt interrupted before she could complete her question. 'I think I am more tired than I thought. I will seek my bed now.'
Without another word, her aunt placed the brush on the small table there, turned and left the chamber. Granted, the warning was one she'd heard before, but her aunt's words about heartbreak hinted at something more personal. She would pursue this on the morrow, but a soft knock foretold of Ailean's arrival. Arabella soon lay in the quiet darkness and pondered the differences between the two Mackintosh cousins and her future as the wife of one or the other.
Her aunt's counsel did not take into account how she truly felt about the one thing that would not changeno matter which she married, she was giving herself to her enemy. She would become part of the clan that had massacred her family over the past several generations and bear children to it. There were hopes that this feud would now end with her marriage to the next Mackintosh chief.
No matter, Arabella would be marrying her enemy very soon.
Brodie held out the cup to one of the women serving at table and watched as she filled it. Nodding his thanks, he continued to observe every Cameron in their hall. They came under a flag of truce and accepted the hospitality offered, but Brodie did not trust a one of them.
As he glanced from Cameron warrior to Cameron warrior, he knew that some of them had killed Mackintoshes during their past skirmishes and battles. And some of the older ones did not want this truce or the coming treaty at all. Reasons not to trust them.
Not even the golden-tressed heiress of their clan did he trust. The chamber where the feast to welcome her had been held began to empty now that Lady Arabella Cameron had retired for the evening. Glancing around the hall, he met the gaze of each of the men he'd positioned wherever the Camerons sat.
Let their bard and hers pay homage to her beauty. Let his cousin fall all over himself flirting with the lass. Brodie saw to his duty of securing the safety of his clan while others played the courtier or ignored the dangers. When each of his men nodded their reply, he turned his attention to his uncle and cousin and their guests.
Content to observe and not get involved in the discussions, Brodie noticed the way The Cameron and his eldest son, Malcolm, sat and spoke and the way they watched him, too. It confirmed his belief that there was wariness on the part of both families. And possibly treachery, at which the Camerons excelled. His uncle stood and everyone at the table did, as wella signal that the feast was over.
Brodie put his cup down and walked to his uncle's side as the Camerons followed their escort to the chambers assigned to them in the north tower. Keeping them together, in several chambers in the one tower, made it easier to keep a watch on them. And to keep them isolated in case of trouble. He smiled at that.
'You will escort the Cameron lass after the noon meal,' his uncle said, gaining his full attention now.
'Nay, Uncle. I have to see to' Brodie began to explain.
'You will escort the lass, Brodie. That is your duty on the morrow.'
They'd already argued this point many times before the Camerons arrived on their lands for this visit. Brodie thought it premature for any of this, while the elders sided with his uncle. They thought it a way to assess the two cousins before making their choice.
After facing whatever tests the elders had planned, one cousin would be proclaimed tanist and heir to the chieftain of the Clan Mackintosh. With no other living male relative eligible, either he or Caelan would govern the Chattan Confederation after his uncle died. One of them would be selected by the elders to control the people and the lands and wealth of their clan.
He owed much to Lachlan for raising him after the death of his parents. The laird had taught him the skills he needed to live and to lead. So, even if he disagreed with his uncle, he would do as he asked, or ordered.
Now, his uncle had added courting the Cameron lass to the list of accomplishments required for the one deemed worthy to lead the clan. Glancing up, he saw his uncle's determined eyes and the look of merriment and victory in his cousin's.
Oh, aye, Caelan had a way with women, his soft words and caresses wooed many to him and his bed. Practised in collecting and discarding any willing woman, his cousin would use all his experience to soften the Cameron lass's heart. Brodie held no hopes that the woman who would, who could, be the means of ending the generations-long feud between their families would be anything but attracted to his cousin.
'Aye, Uncle.' Brodie would rather be attending to training the new guards or organising the defences of their borders than in this useless bit of courting. But, from the glare of his uncle's expression and the way he crossed his arms over his massive chest, Brodie knew he would be spending time with the lass, Arabella.
'Try not to put her to sleep,' Caelan taunted as he walked away.
As much as Brodie wanted to argue or come back at his cousin with some witty or even caustic reply, he could think of none. He was not known for his wit or sense of humour. He was also not known for his easy manner with women. Brodie let out his breath and strode through the hall into the corridor.
What he did do well was protect his clan and their holdings from the constant incursions by their enemies. He'd wanted an end to this feud for a very long time, even before his parents were murdered in an ambush in the hills around Loch Arkaig. With every new fight or battle that led to losing more of his family, his desire to find a way to peace between the Mackintoshes and Camerons had grown. And if it could be ended without destroying all of them, well, that was even better. He preferred peace through negotiation, but he would take it in any way they could obtain it.
Even if it meant he married the lass who wore a false smile like it was her second skin.
So, in spite of his suspicions and the cynicism he now carried with him as a constant companion, he would follow his uncle's orders and see to taking her on a tour of some kind. Then he would focus his attentions where they matteredon being the one chosen to lead the clan next.
And, if that included marrying one of their enemies, so be it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Stolen by the Highlander is the first in Terri Brisbin’s A Highland Feuding series. It’s a Scottish historical with warring clans, murder, trickery, kidnapping, a beautiful woman, a hero, a villain – and some pretty steamy scenes woven into what is a sweet and delightful love story. Because it’s “Scotland in the past” and perfectly acceptable for the times, in order to end a centuries long feud between the Camerons and the Mackintoshes, Arabella Cameron has been promised in marriage to one of the two Mackintosh cousins, Brodie or Caelan, whichever one becomes chieftain of the clan. But suddenly Arabella’s brother is murdered and Brodie is blamed. Arabella will now be Caelan’s bride. Not so fast! Brodie knows Caelan is up to no good and ending the feud is not really what he has in mind. And when Brodie kidnaps Arabella the morning of her wedding the excitement begins. The characters are larger than life but still well-developed and with depth. The writing is solid and it is easy to insert yourself into the world of the Camerons and the Mackintoshes. Arabella and Brodie have a smoldering attraction that soon bursts into flame, but also a growing awareness of something possibly deeper that is satisfyingly romantic to watch. Stolen by the Highlander is a great start to a new series, with a nice little teaser for the next one. Thanks to author Terri Brisbin and narrator Jill Tanner for a very enjoyable trip to the Scottish Highlands via a copy of this book on CD.
This is a good, well written story. I enjoyed it very much. The characters are believable and you become invested in their lives. I look forward to the next one in this series.