Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.
For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.
He can lead this girl to the altar, but she might be diverted along the way...
Second in an exciting trilogy of short stories set in medieval Scotland. Effie Campbell cannot fathom marrying a stranger just because her brother arranged it and is determined to marry only for love. She finds an unlikely ally in Connor Maclachlan, her intended husband, who also balks at being led by his parents to the altar.
They scheme to support each other in the pursuit of true love, but when the object of her affection disappoints, she finds more than a friend in Connor.
Campbell Sisters Series:
The Highland Bride's Choice (Novella 1)
The Wrong Highland Bridegroom (Novella 2)
The Trouble with a Highland Bride (Novella 3)
Praise for A Wedding in Springtime:
"This clever combination of wit, romance, and suspense strikes all the right notes." -Booklist, Starred Review
"Engaging subplots involving unforgettable supporting characters make this one a must-read." -Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
"Forester delivers with a cast of engaging characters and delightful intrigue." -RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Wrong Highland Bridgegroom
By Amanda Forester
Sourcebooks, Inc.Copyright © 2014 Amanda Forester
All rights reserved.
Alnsworth Castle, 1358
"I dinna care who David arranged for me to wed," declared Effie Campbell. "I shall marry the man I choose."
Effie entered the great hall to raucous cheers from the crowd. She followed her brother, Laird David Campbell, and his wife, Lady Isabelle, into the hall. After years of war, Laird Campbell was hosting a May Day clan gathering, which, if the volume of cheers was any indication, was heartily appreciated.
"I suggest ye have the good sense to choose the man to whom ye are engaged," hissed her twin sister, Elyne, walking beside her.
"I think it unfair I should no' choose my own groom." Effie surveyed the raucous clans, all of whom had brought their best knights. "Who is that knight?" She gave the attractive knight a smile. The man returned it with a scandalous wink.
"That is Sir Malcolm Douglas, no' that it is any o' yer concern. Face forward, sister! Ye are about to be introduced to yer future husband."
"My future husband has yet to be determined," whispered Effie with defiance, smoothing her burgundy silk gown. The presentation gown, made particularly for this momentous day, was very fine, with gold embroidered thread along the sleeves and bodice. She may reject the groom, but the gown was all hers.
"Dinna be a fool. Nobody chooses their own spouse." Elyne smoothed her own gown, an exact copy of Effie's but in brilliant blue. The two identical twins made quite a stir with their rich gowns and their long blond locks plaited down their backs with a gauzy veil finishing their presentation. They appeared as one accord, yet they could not be more different.
"Our brother David did. And so did our sister Cait," protested Effie.
"Those were unusual events," dismissed Elyne. "A lass doesna choose her own husband. 'Tis simply no' done."
"'Tis done in our family. And it will be done by me!"
"As ye wish. Just remember May Day celebrations occur but once a year. We have no' been able to celebrate for many years due to the war, and who knows what the next year will bring. We are already nineteen years old! If ye dinna wish to see twenty and still be unwed ..."
"I have no intention of waiting another year," sniffed Effie, shuddering at the mere thought of being twenty and unwed. At nineteen some might say they were already past their prime, and she was determined not to leave this May Day celebration without a man to call her own. She simply intended to be the one doing the choosing. She glanced around at the cheering throng of manhood before her. Honestly, with all these options, it could not possibly be so difficult to find a man who made her heart sing.
David and Isabelle reached the raised dais and sat at the high table before the assembled knights and ladies. Many notable clans were assembled, including the Douglases, the Stewarts, the Maclachlans, the Grants, and others.
Since Elyne was the elder by all of a few minutes, she was introduced to her intended first, a large, burly man. If Elyne had any qualms about her intended, she kept them to herself and took her seat at the table with a placid look that gave away nothing.
Now it was Effie's turn. Despite being quite certain she would never marry the man, still her heart pounded as the herald spoke her name.
"Euphemia Campbell, sister to the Laird David Campbell," cried the herald. "May I present Sir Connor Maclachlan, honorable knight of the Maclachlan clan and son and heir to the Laird Maclachlan."
A tall man stood before her and bowed. He had short black hair and silver eyes that had an odd glint in the candlelight. He wore the Highland plaid in the form of the great kilt, as did her brothers. He was not as broad chested as some warriors in the room, but he was a head taller than most and she had to own that he was an attractive man. Though where others smiled and laughed, his demeanor was sober. He did not appear unkind, but neither did he smile.
Anyone who knew Effie would agree she enjoyed lively conversation, amusing diversions, and a good laugh. A somber man would not do for her at all. No, she was confident in her decision. Sir Connor Maclachlan was not the man for her.
Please, Lord, help me to find my true love. It was a fervent prayer.
* * *
After the merriment of the banquet, Effie climbed the north tower of Castle Alnsworth. The castle was Lady Isabelle's inheritance, thus acquired by the Campbell clan when David wed her. She was an English lady by blood, and the castle was situated on the border between England and Scotland. David had taken up residence during the war between the two countries as a good fortress to prevent the English from making incursions into Scotland.
Even now that the war was over, David remained at Alnsworth, knowing that if he ever vacated the estate, it would quickly be retaken by the English. At some point, their longtime foe would demand the castle's return, but until terms could be made, David would defend his wife's property.
Effie climbed the stone stairs to the top of the tower, welcoming the cool, fresh air. The great hall was hot and the air was thick with the smell of roasting meat, wood smoke, and throngs of people. She enjoyed the festivities, but a cool respite after hours of feasting was a welcome relief. She pulled herself up through the trapdoor to the top of the tower and stood, breathing deep.
"Good evening," said a low voice.
Effie spun around and nearly fell back through the trapdoor. "Oh my word! Sir Connor, ye gave me a fright!" Effie regarded her intended with certain displeasure and a pounding heart.
"I apologize if I frightened ye."
Effie took a breath and remembered her manners. "Nay, I should look where I am going. But why are ye here?"
"My room is one below. I thought to get some cool air."
"My room is two below," said Effie. The fact that she had the same thought as he struck her as wrong somehow. She would prefer they share nothing in common. "'Twas hot in the hall."
"Aye," he said from the other side of the tower.
Silence descended on them, surrounding them like the black night sky. Effie was not sure how to voice what she wanted to say, and Sir Connor appeared to have no interest in helping with any sort of conversation.
"I dinna wish to marry ye," blurted Effie.
Connor's eyebrows shot up and he said nothing for a moment, regarding her with surprise. He bowed, his face somber once more. "As ye wish." He stepped toward the trapdoor to leave the tower.
"I know this must sound daft," Effie hastened to add. "But I wish to do my own choosing when it comes to marriage."
"Have I offended?" Connor stopped, his silver eyes searching hers.
"Nay, I can have no complaint against ye. I find ye a very attractive man." Effie stopped short. Attractive? Had she just said attractive? Of all the benign compliments she could have given, why did she say attractive? "I mean, ye are a nice man, a good match."
Connor stood beside her along the stone battlements. "But ye do no' wish to be my wife."
Effie had to tilt her head up to look him in the eye. She was relatively tall herself, as were all the Campbells, which made his own height more notable. She swallowed hard on a throat that was suddenly dry. "I understand I have strange notions, but I have watched how happy my brother has become after he wedded Isabelle. He was supposed to marry another but followed his heart, and they have both been verra happy. I also wish to find true love."
Effie looked away, out to the thousands of stars twinkling in the inky black sky. "I'm sure ye think me touched in the head. Everyone says I'm mad."
"Nay," said Connor thoughtfully. "There is some sense to what ye say. I dinna wish to marry a lass who would be displeased wi' the union."
"Indeed!" Effie was pleased he did not immediately reject her concerns. "Ye should find a lass who truly loves ye to be yer bride.
"Faith, there is truth in what ye say. I shall talk to my parents and yer brother tomorrow and dissolve the arrangement."
"Aye," said Effie slowly, considering with displeasure what her brother's reaction would be. She knew he would never force her to wed against her will, but he had spent months arranging a good match for her, and she did not wish him to think her ungrateful. "My brother will no' be pleased."
"My parents less so," said Connor.
"What if we dinna tell them?"
Connor raised an eyebrow. "And what should we say when it comes time for the wedding?"
"That winna be for a while. We can pretend to go along with the plan and use the time to find marriage partners that are more suited to us. When we both find a partner to our liking, we can tell our relatives. I warrant our decision would be less disappointing if we had a substitute in mind."
A small smile crept slowly over Connor's lips. "So we feign an engagement until we can find marriage partners of our own."
"'Tis a goodly plan." Effie smiled in return. She could not help it. Sir Connor Maclachlan was a handsome man and even more so when he smiled.
"Aye, particularly no' telling my mother until necessary."
"Yer mother has been anticipating the marriage?"
"I am her only bairn who lived past childhood."
"I am sorry." The wind turned cold and a chill shuddered down her spine. "I have fourteen brothers and sisters including a twin sister from whom I have rarely ever been parted. I canna imagine being an only child."
Connor shrugged. "It has been hard on my mother, burying so many children. But now her main focus is me and my future bride. I fear she may be a wee bit overbearing."
"I would'na mind. I miss my father and my mother."
"I am sorry for yer loss as well."
It was Effie's turn to shrug. It had been four years since her parents had died from the fever. "Between the two of us, we make one whole family," she said with a smile, trying to turn the sad topic into something more lighthearted.
"Too bad we shall ne'er be united," said Connor with an equally light tone.
"Aye, indeed." Though said in jest, Effie could not help but feel that perhaps it would be her loss not to be connected with his family. Yet she was certain she made the right choice. She must choose a man who loved her. None other would do.CHAPTER 2
Effie awoke to a morning full of hope and bright with promise. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and she had never been closer to finding her true love.
Her sister Elyne, on the other hand, was not having as lovely a morning. She banged about the solar with Winifred, her merlin falcon, perched on her arm. "I should take Fred to get some exercise," grumbled Elyne, referring to her precious hooded falcon.
"Woud'na do ye any harm to get some fresh air," chimed in Gwyn, their younger sister. "Ye've been grumbling about all morning."
"I dinna grumble," defended Elyne. "And should ye no' be helping Isabelle or making yerself useful?"
"Fine. Send me down to the kitchens while ye both go meet yer husbands. 'Tis no' fair David made betrothals for ye both and no' for me."
"Now look who is grumbling," said Effie with a laugh. "Go on wi' ye, Gwyn. Be a good lass and help Isabelle."
Gwyn turned on her heel with her pert nose in the air and stomped off to find their sister-in-law.
Effie went to help her sister, who was struggling to tie her cloak one-handed so as not to disturb her falcon. "Are ye displeased wi' the man David chose?"
"Nay!" shouted Elyne, a bit too loud to be believed.
Effie put her hands up and walked back in surrender.
Elyne's shoulders slumped. "I apologize. Some exercise will do me good."
"Go for yer ride, sister, and think on this. I plan to find a man of my own choosing. I plan to find a man I love, and who returns my affections. Ye can do the same."
Elyne only shook her head and slumped away to the stables.
Effie wished her well and skipped down the tower stairs to the courtyard. It was a mass of people and excitement.
"What is all the to-do about?" she asked a ghillie hurrying by.
"The clans decided to hold a tournament for May Day!"
"A tournament!" Effie could hardly keep herself from squeaking in joy. She had only been to a tournament once before and was thrilled by the prospect. May Day was also the traditional time to celebrate the legend of Robin Hood with plays and even tournaments. If it was to be a tournament of Robin Hood, there would need to be a Maid Marian. Her excitement soared for a moment but plummeted back when she remembered she had other sisters who would no doubt take that prized role.
Still, the day was fine and the prospect for amusement high. She went further into the large, grassy courtyard and waved at her brother, David, who was directing the men to build the lists. He was too busy to notice, but another man, Malcolm Douglas, waved back instead.
She raised an eyebrow and turned away, as was proper. But then she turned back with a sly smile, which was not proper in the least. The courtyard was a chaotic scene as people rushed about setting up everything needed for a proper tournament. Despite the yelling and banging, everyone seemed in high spirits; the prospect of watching the young knights of the assembled clans demonstrate their skill and bravery as they bashed at each other with swords and lances was a happy thought to one and all.
Fortunately for the festivities, the courtyard was a large one and relatively flat, giving enough space not only for the contestants and onlookers, but also a variety of tradesmen who had spontaneously set up shop in tents along the thick castle walls. Effie let her nose guide her to roasted apples and savory meat pies. The aroma was heavenly.
She stood outside the tent, realizing too late she had not brought a single coin with her. Her shoulders slumped with disappointment.
"Two pies, good sir," said a deep voice behind her.
Effie turned to find the muscular figure of Sir Malcolm Douglas. Her heart skipped a beat. He was bigger and even more handsome at close range.
He gave her a winning smile. "I dinna believe we have met. I am Sir Malcolm Douglas, the knight who will win this tournament. A pie, m'lady?"
Effie accepted the savory meat pie with pleasure. "Ye are mighty sure o' yerself."
"I speak naught but the truth. When it comes to a lance or a sword, there be none who can best me."
"If there be a contest for braggarts, I am certain ye would emerge the victor," teased Effie with a smile.
"Ah, ye wound me." Malcolm clasped his chest. "But aye, I have no doubt I should win any contest ye care to put before me."
"An interesting challenge, sir knight. I shall have to think of the contest."
"For ye, anything!" Sir Malcolm swept her a bow and strode off into the crowd.
Effie beamed after him, pleased her plan was working so well so fast. Here was the man for her.
"Miss Effie?" a ghillie spoke at her side.
"Lady Maclachlan has invited ye to sup with her."
"Oh, aye." Her elation plummeted. Effie followed the ghillie back into the castle with heavy feet. She could not very well avoid Connor's mother, but she did wish she could escape the audience. She wanted to find true love, not be false to anyone.
Effie arrived at the Maclachlan solar to find this was not just an intimate gathering for herself and her supposed future mother-in-law. It appeared the better part of the Maclachlan clan was present, including her supposed intended, who stood straight and tall as a lance.
"My dear Euphemia." Laird Maclachlan himself greeted her at the door. He had a well-trimmed silver beard to match his silver eyes. He was tall, like his son. "Ye do us great honor to break bread with us."
Laird Maclachlan offered her his arm and walked her slowly to the table. He walked with a noticeable limp and Effie was at once conscious of the honor he had given her by walking her into the room.
"The honor is mine," murmured Effie.
Lady Maclachlan gazed at her with tears in her eyes. "Effie, my sweet child. I have always wanted a daughter, and now the Lord has answered my prayers." Lady Maclachlan embraced her firmly, then squeezed even tighter. Effie patted the woman on the back, desperately trying to draw breath. The embrace was apparently not going to end soon.
I'm sorry, mouthed Connor from behind his mother.
"There now, let the lass breathe," said Laird Maclachlan, and much to Effie's relief, Lady Maclachlan let her go.
Effie hoped to eat a little and run away, but Laird and Lady Maclachlan clearly had other ideas. First Effie was introduced to Connor's five uncles and their wives, then she met his seven female cousins and his five male cousins and their respective spouses. Much to Effie's embarrassment, everyone she met presented her with a gift for her wedding. Soon she had a bounty of gifts piled around her feet: silk cloth, feather pillows, embroidered linen, silver candlesticks, gold thread — their generosity knew no bounds.
"And I give to ye this." Lady Maclachlan nodded to two ghillies who carried a large, engraved cedar chest to the middle of the room.
Excerpted from The Wrong Highland Bridgegroom by Amanda Forester. Copyright © 2014 Amanda Forester. 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
CUTE - SWEET - CLEAN ROMANCE STORY. This is book (Novella) two of the series. I did enjoy it, but I don't think it is worth $2.99. Having stated this, it is full of warmth, passion, some twists too. For a Novella, I did feel a connection to our H/h. How I loved Connor, what a hero!! There isn't lovemaking in this or the previous story. This did have an Epilogue in it, which the first didn't and I missed. There was no catching up with her sister from the first novel, which is a shame, because I liked to see how they fared. I would recommend this story, just wished it was cheaper! ((ljb)
3.5 STARS TOO MUCH HAPPENING FOR SUCH A SHORT BOOK.
I skipped ahead and it never improved - i gave up