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Highlander of My Heart (Macardle Sisters of Courage #1)
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She runs from a forced marriage. He runs from lies. They both run from love.
“No! Absolutely not! Never! He dictates and drinks until drunk. I’d kill him before our wedding day has ended.”
Sorrell let’s her step-brother know that she wants no part of the marriage he arranged for her. Unfortunately, the Clan Macardle is in dire straits and this marriage would prove beneficial. Besides, it’s not like there’s a line of suitors vying for her. She’s a spitfire, though you would never know it with her petite size. Unafraid and strongminded, Sorrell lets nothing stand in her way. Not even the giant of a man who arrives at Macardle keep looking for shelter and food for a couple of days.
John is surprised by the wee woman’s fearlessness, by her foolishness, and by her beauty. She gets herself into more difficult situations than he thought possible. But it is none of his concern. He is there only for a few days, then he’ll be gone. His life has been a hellish nightmare for the past two years. He is looking for a place where he can be alone to think and decide what to do next. He needs to find out who is responsible for all the lies and deceit that has torn his life apart.
John finds himself protecting Sorrell, more like saving her time and again, and Sorrel finds herself relying on him, something she rarely, if ever, does with anyone. Chaos breaks loose when the pair find themselves in a compromising position. But the chaos is nothing to what Sorrell finds out about John’s true identity.
Sorrel must face leaving her sisters, settling in a castle with a husband she’s not sure she knows, with a father-in-law who put a price on his son’s head, all while trying to figure out who wants her dead. Could things get any more complicated? Enter the horde of barbarians. Nothing is as it seems, but Sorrell is fearless… until she faces true fear.
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13th century Scotland, the Highlands
“Who did this to you?” Sorrell demanded, fisting her hands at her sides as she tried to contain her anger.
Her younger sister Snow’s one cheek was smeared with mud and mud stained her green tunic at her chest and stomach. Mud balls. Someone had thrown mud balls at her. It was enough to make Sorrell want to kill the person. It was malicious and downright rotten to sling mud at a blind woman.
Snow wasn’t completely blind, though she might as well have been since she was barely able to see shadows, leaving her far too vulnerable. She had no way of protecting herself against what she couldn’t see. With a slight improvement in her vision, after a fire had completely blinded her months ago, there was hope that she would one day fully regain her sight. Until then, Sorrell and Willow had made sure to be their youngest sister’s eyes as best they could.
“That is something we can discuss later, after we see to tending Snow,” Willow said.
Sorrell ignored the slight shake of Willow’s head, warning her that now was not the time for such a question. Sorrell didn’t agree.
She approached her two sisters, her anger mounting when she spotted the spreading red blotch beneath the mud Willow was cleaning off Snow’s face with a gentle wipe of a wet cloth.
“Not later… now,” Sorrell insisted, stopping by the bed where Snow stood. “If whoever did this to Snow is not taken to task for it, he will feel free to do it again.”
Sorrell often wondered how Willow could remain calm and reasonable under circumstances that obviously called for immediate retribution. She always appeared unruffled, taking in all that went on and approaching it with a sway and bend like the willow tree she was named after. No matter what storm hit, Willow remained solid and strong, doing what she felt best after considering the circumstances.
It could be that she was the oldest of the three of them and some would say the wisest. Or was it that she stood a good head over Sorrell and Snow, something not difficult to do since they were both petite, taking after their mother. Whereas, Willow got what height she had over them from their da. However, it was Sorrell who got his commanding nature. Willow had plain, gentle features while Snow was the beauty out of the three of them. Sweet and eager to help others, Snow was loved by everyone in the clan, though now there was a cautiousness about her that had not been there before. But how could she not be more cautious when she could see only shadows? A place where dangers lurked.
Danger had certainly lurked there today and Sorrell had every intention of finding that shadow and beating it senseless.
“It was Peter from the Clan MacLoon,” Snow said, bringing an end to the disagreement between Willow and Sorrell. “He called out his usual taunts, but I was stunned when I felt the first blow.”
“No one stepped up to help you?” Sorrell asked. “And what were you doing out alone?”
“You know better than to condemn anyone, Sorrell. There isn’t one in the clan who wouldn’t come to Snow’s defense,” Willow chided.
“Then why didn’t someone step forward?” Sorrell demanded. “And again, why were you alone?”
Snow’s chin dipped a bit, her glance going to her feet to avoid looking at her sisters even though she couldn’t see them.
Sorrow filled Willow’s eyes and Sorrell regretted that she had asked.
“You went to Mum and Da’s graves again, didn’t you?” Sorrell said softly.
Snow raised her head. “I felt the need.”
Willow slipped her arm around Snow and Sorrell joined in the hug, the three lassies holding on tight to one another as they had done since losing their parents. They had lost their mum shortly after the fire and their da months later. It still was difficult to accept the fact that both were gone, but they had one another. They would always have one another.
Sorrell laid a gentle hand briefly on Snow’s red glowing cheek after seeing it up close and grew angrier when she felt the heat that stung it. She wished the simple touch could take away her sister’s suffering. “That must have hurt.”
“It stung. At first, I had no idea what Peter had thrown at me.” She paused briefly and reluctantly admitted, “I heard him laugh.”
“Laugh? He laughed after hitting you?” Sorrell asked, heat rushing up to stain her cheeks as bright red as her sister’s.
“Something he has done many times,” Snow reminded. “After a few moments, I saw a shadow draw close and I raised my hands to protect my face, but that time the mud ball hit my chest. The third blow followed soon after. Then someone yelled, ‘Leave her alone, Peter.’”
Willow turned to Sorrell. “You should go inform James. He will see that Peter is made to pay for this.”