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Entries in July 2014 (1)

Tuesday
Jul012014

July 2014 Book of the Month: My Rebel Highlander by Vonda Sinclair

ISBN-10: 0985868252
ISBN-13: 978-0-9858682-5-3


Known for his wicked wit, fierce loyalty, and skills in battle, Robert "Rebbie" MacInnis, the Earl of Rebbinglen, loves freedom and has no plans of marrying anytime soon. But when his father, a powerful Scottish marquess, signs a contract betrothing Rebbie to an earl's young daughter, he is furious. If he has to marry, he's determined to choose his own bride, though he has no inkling who he would wish to wed until fate intervenes to remind him of one fair-haired, nameless beauty and the passionate night they spent together years ago. A night forever etched in his memory. 

Lady Calla Ferguson, a penniless widow with a young son, is forced to seek employment as her cousin's companion in order to pay her late husband's massive gambling debt. Having been ignored or mistreated most of her life, Calla has become a resourceful survivor who will stop at nothing to get what she wants—safety and security for her son and herself. Wealthy merchant, Claybourne cares little for the money the Earl of Stanbury owed him; he simply wants the earl's beautiful, voluptuous widow and he'll do whatever it takes to get his hands on her, even kidnapping and blackmail.


When Rebbie happens upon Claybourne abducting Calla, he rescues her and hides her in a secluded castle deep in the wild Scottish Highlands. Calla conceals her passionate spirit beneath reserve and duty, along with closely-guarded secrets which, if exposed, could ruin both her life and her son's. Years ago, she lost her heart to a dark-eyed stranger she never thought to see again, but now he's her protector. Rebbie craves another pleasurable night like the one they shared in the past, and she cannot resist the fiery passion that echoes deep in her heart and soul. Soft but strong, Calla sparks within Rebbie a desperate hunger and a need to protect her. But will her secrets tear them apart?
 
To Learn More:
Letter to Readers:
 

First of all, THANK YOU for reading and enjoying the books in my Highland Adventure Series. I dedicate My Rebel Highlander to you in an effort to express my profound gratitude. In these stories, I write from my heart and soul. I don't know where inspiration comes from, but I treasure it. I love the feeling of being immersed in the story and discovering what happens next as I'm writing. My imagination has always been an important part of who I am. When I was a kid, long before I started writing, escaping into the stories I created in my mind was a favorite pastime. I was never bored. I kept myself entertained with my own imagination. And of course I've always loved reading, too. I became so wrapped up in the stories I was reading, the characters, and their emotions, that I felt I had entered a new world. This is one reason I've always gravitated to positive, uplifting, feel-good stories with happy endings.

I confess; I love my job! Writing Scottish historical romance is the ideal occupation for me. I get to spend most days in the Scotland of my imagination. Having visited Scotland a few times definitely helps because I have a feeling that nowhere on earth is quite like Scotland. It is an incredibly beautiful and moody country. No, it isn't all sunshine, flowers and warmth. This quote, one of my favorites, probably describes Scotland best:

"There is no sunlight in the poetry of exile. There is only mist, wind, rain, the cry of the curlew and the slow clouds above damp moorland. That is the real Scotland; that is the Scotland whose memory rings the withers of the far-from-home; and, in some way that is mysterious, that is the Scotland that even a stranger learns to love". H V Morton, English travel writer, in his classic book "In Search of Scotland" written in 1929.

Scotland is often rain-drenched, chilly and windy. But when the sun finally beams through the clouds and illuminates the vivid green hills in summer, you will never see anything more beautiful. The dark lochs reflect the blue sky, and the heather-covered glens gleam in hues of purple and pink. It's a colorful, breathtaking landscape then. If you happen to see a castle on a tiny island in a loch, that completes the perfect picture.

I realize, sadly, that some of you who love Scotland are unable to travel there, for one reason or another. That's why I endeavor to show you that Scotland is a stunningly beautiful and amazing place. I want to take you there through my stories and photos.

Each book in my Highland Adventure Series stands alone as a complete story and they don't have to be read in order. But readers tell me reading them in order enhances the overall experience. Each story is related in some way to the other books. Most of the characters are friends, relatives or acquaintances of the others. Secondary characters from the early books get their own stories later in the series. Early main characters show up again in later books so we get to see what they're up to, how their lives and relationships have been progressing. Maybe they even have wee new bairns. :)

Each story features a Highland hero who is a strong and honorable warrior who loves his clan, family, friends and country… and of course the new lady who comes into his life. Though each hero is different in personality, each has a protective and compassionate nature. I enjoy writing about these tough Highlands who fought for everything they had. Enemies were often challenging them from all sides, if not Englishmen, then the neighboring clan, some greedy and vengeful enemy, or even their own clansmen. Politics was an ever-shifting sea. Sometimes whether someone was friend or foe was unclear. Treachery and intrigue ran rampant.

My heroines are unconventional for historical romance. The heroines who pop into my mind have an interesting past and usually they've endured hard times in one way or another. These women are sometimes not pure as the driven snow (but sometimes they are), nor are they strumpets. LOL But somewhere in between, much like modern women in some ways. Of course, they have to conform to society's edicts to an extent, but they're not defined by it. They have often been controlled by men in the past, but when they have an opportunity to make their own decisions and choices, they go for it. Deep down, they're strong, admirable women who care about their family members and friends, and would risk life and limb for those they love. But they're not perfect. They have flaws, and in many cases, some of the men in their lives in the past have forced them into abhorrent situations. But this doesn't destroy the women. The saying what doesn't kill you makes you stronger applies in this case.

I love writing about the complex and spellbinding process of two people falling in love. It is a combination of intense emotions such as fear, hope, joy, excitement, anger and many other things. Setting these stories in historic Scotland dictates that the characters must follow a certain set of cultural and societal guidelines, which I enjoy. It's wonderful to watch love flourish in these sometimes harsh conditions, like seeing beautiful heather blooming on a rock cliff.

Again, thank you for reading my stories! If you haven't read any of them yet, I hope you'll give one a try. They are:

Book 1: My Fierce Highlander
Book 2: My Wild Highlander
Book 3: My Brave Highlander
Book 4: My Daring Highlander
Book 5: My Notorious Highlander
Book 6: My Rebel Highlander

Read an Excerpt:

Excerpt from My Rebel Highlander by Vonda Sinclair

 

The céilidh was underway and Calla sat at the high table while most of the others danced to the sprightly music. Angelique was dancing with Lachlan, although not as boisterously as some of the others. Their dance more resembled a moving embrace. Very romantic. She marveled at the love-match they shared.

"'Tis a lively céilidh, is it not?" Rebbie asked, seating himself in the chair beside her.

Heavens! Calla's whole body heated. "Aye," she responded, surprised she got the word out. Wondering where Elena was, she glanced back over the great hall and found her dancing with one of the young Drummagan clansmen.

"A lovely lady such as yourself… why are you not dancing?" Rebbie's deep brown eyes sparkled. "Surely a dozen men have asked you already."

She shook her head. "Nay." Was that all she could utter? One word responses? "I haven't danced in… ages."

"Ha. Don't expect me to believe that, but 'haps you would honor me with a dance?"

She swallowed hard, her heart pounding. "Oh." How could she get out of this without him thinking she was daft? "I'm certain Elena would be jealous if I took you up on that generous offer."

"I don't see why. She's danced with every male in the room. Besides—" He cleared his throat.

Calla peered at him, wondering if he was going to finish the sentence. But he looked annoyed and glared at the young lady in question. "You are her cousin?" he asked, his gaze turning friendlier when it met hers.

"Aye, and her chaperone."

"I see." He glanced around the room again, then faced her and said in a low voice. "I need to speak to you in private."

Panic rampaged through Calla and she could scarce breathe as she assessed Rebbie's obsidian gaze. Then, unable to withstand the force of it, she glanced away. How could this be happening to her? She should have known… any dishonesty on her part was bound to come back to nip at her heels.

"Please." Rebbie's voice was barely audible above the loud music.

She darted a quick glance at him to try to discern his thoughts, but his eyes were near impossible to read. He did not appear angry. Merely… interested? And intense.

"Very well," she said.

"Do you ken where the solar is?"

She nodded.

He stood and bowed, then headed toward the stairs.

Good heavens! What did he wish to talk about? That night they'd shared? She inhaled deeply, trying to dispel the jitters that had suddenly overtaken her entire body. Even her knees shook as she rose from her seat.

All will be well. He is not a cruel man. And he doesn't know…

At least, she hoped he wasn't cruel and vindictive like her late husband. Would Rebbie keep their secret if she asked him to?

After watching the dancers for a few moments to make certain Elena didn't notice her following Rebbie, she sedately strolled toward the stairs. Hopefully, they would think she was merely retiring for the night.

Her heart pounding, she ascended the steps and started down the dim corridor, lit here and there by a candle sconce. Walking as slowly as she could, she tried to calm herself as she approached the solar. The door was open and, inside, several candles burned along with a low fire in the hearth. A dark form in his black clothing, Rebbie stood before it, gazing into the flames, his hand propped on the mantel.

She stepped across the threshold and halted, knowing not what to say.

He turned. "Lady Stanbury, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Please, come in." His businesslike tone helped her relax marginally. Maybe he wouldn't get too personal after all. Moving toward her, he motioned to the hearth, then bypassed her and closed the door. "You don't mind, do you?"

"Nay." Saints! Her heart-rate doubled. Was it fear or excitement? Maybe a little of both.

"Come. Have a seat." He took her hand and drew her to the chairs near the hearth. He wore no gloves, and she perversely wished she didn't either. From somewhere deep in her soul, she craved the warm touch of his skin—something she hadn't felt in a very long time.

Once they were seated, she thought he would speak, but he didn't. Instead, he picked up the poker and stirred the fire's coals, then added two pieces of wood. The fire popped and crackled, burning a bit brighter.

Her stomach ached with frayed nerves.

He set the metal poker aside and glanced at her briefly. "I remember that night," he said in a low, deep voice.

Her breath stopped and heat rushed over her. "Pray pardon, I—"

"Nay." He held up a hand. "Why on earth would you apologize? 'Twas me who was a rogue and a scoundrel."

"Nay, you were not." She knew he'd said that because he was a charming gentleman, for she was the one who'd approached him.

She'd told him she was a widow back then. A lie. She squeezed her eyes shut. He could easily learn her husband died a mere five months ago.

"Anyway. 'Tis our secret," he murmured.

She glanced at him. A hint of a sincere smile softened his sensual mouth. Was it too much to hope for… that he would keep their secret? With fathomless eyes, he studied her, waiting for her response. He could've easily taken advantage of her, forcing her to warm his bed in exchange for his silence, but thankfully he didn't appear to be that sort of man.

"I thank you," she said. "I never imagined… that I would see you again."

"You hoped you wouldn't, aye?" He lifted a brow, looking none too pleased about that.

It wasn't that she didn't want to see him again, for she certainly did, dreamed of it every night, but…. She shrugged. "Under the circumstances—"

"And what were the circumstances?"

She bit her lip. Could she tell him the truth, that she had been married at the time? And that she was an adulteress? Although, not by her own choice. Shame consumed her.

"You don't wish to say." His voice gentled. "I understand. 'Tis far different for a woman than for a man."

"Indeed."

"So, 'twas not something you did often?"

Calla's shocked gaze flew to Rebbie. "Nay. Of course not."

"I meant no offense." He could easily tell by her words and actions she was not very experienced at seducing men, then or now. She blushed almost as much as a virgin, for heaven's sake. If she were a practiced seductress, she would be all over him now, wouldn't she? Instead, she would rarely meet his gaze. 'Twas obvious she was mortified that he remembered the night they'd spent together.

He almost wished she would do something. Smile at him, touch his arm. Anything. He wanted to see a glimpse of the lass he'd shared a pleasurable night of unbridled passion with. He remembered the joy in her eyes and her smile.

Memories from that night had taunted him all day and now they flooded his mind. He recalled that her actions had told him she wasn't very experienced. Of course, she hadn't been a virgin. No widows were, unless their elderly husbands had been unable to perform. But 'twas obvious to him Calla had never experienced a bedding like the one he gave her. She had not truly even known how to kiss before he'd shown her.

He'd been in his early twenties at the time and bedsport had been one of his favorite pastimes. There was no way in hades he would've refused such a beautiful lady. Aye, he'd known she was a lady, but a countess? He hadn't imagined.

"I know what you must think of me," she whispered, refusing to look at him. "But, nay, I had not done that before." She shook her head. "You have no idea how embarrassed I am right now."

"There's no need to be. I won't be telling anyone." Of course, he'd already told Lachlan, but he wouldn't breathe a word about it. "I would never think badly of you. 'Twas just one of those things that happens when two lonely people get together." Or in his case, sotted on whisky. He was rarely lonely, but mayhap she had been. And if so, he was glad he'd been there for her. "I don't regret it. And I hope you don't."

She studied him for a longer moment. "Nay."

"Good." He observed her, unsure what was going through her mind, but feeling somehow that maybe she was starting to trust him a wee bit. "I hope you don't feel I took advantage of you in a… fragile state."

"Nay. Of course not. I blame myself."

"There is no blame. 'Twas a memorable night and I have to admit, I think of it sometimes."

The color of her face deepened in the firelight and she again refused to look at him.

"Do you?"