Meet Ranald and Riona in The Highlader's Reluctant Bride, the prequel to the 5th book in The Highlander's Bride series, The Highlander's French Bride, scheduled to release in December.
Determined to keep the Macrory clan’s holdings out of the clutches of marauding pirates, King Robert II sends his man, Lord Ranald Scott, to hold Scaurness Castle. There, Laird Macrory lays dying, awaiting word from his son who is missing on the battlefields of France. If the son is not found before the old laird dies, Ranald will take over as laird—and marry Laird Macrory’s headstrong daughter.
Lady Caitriona sees no reason she cannot rule the clan in her brother’s stead, and is bitterly disappointed with the king’s decision to send a man to oversee the castle and people. Not only is Ranald Scott only distantly related to the Macrory clan, but he was her childhood nemesis. She has little trust or like for him.
Her disappointment turns to panic when the king’s plan is completely revealed and she realizes she must wed Ranald. Pirates, treachery, and a four-year-old girl stand between her and Ranald’s chance at happiness. What will it take for them to learn to trust each other and find the love they both deserve?
Absently Riona brushed a wayward strand of dark auburn hair from her face as she took two quick paces to catch up with him. The movement reminded Ranald of her as a child.
“I don’t suppose ye were too anxious to come here,” she said.
He formed a rueful expression. “Nae. ‘Twas no’ my first choice.”
“I know ye dinnae like it here. Ye always seemed relieved to depart.”
Ranald laughed. “‘Twas ye I dinnae like.”
Rather than take offence, Riona nodded again. “Nor I ye.”
“Ye were a difficult lass.”
She drew up short, staring at him. “Me? Difficult? All I ever wanted was to be included. Ye were forever running off, trying to leave me behind.”
Ranald did not check his pace. “Ach, we did let ye play sometimes.”
With a huff, Riona scrambled to his side. “Oh, aye. Ye let me play ‘princess.’ The princess ye kidnapped and held for ransom by tying me to a tree all afternoon.” She grabbed at her skirt again as she stumbled and caught herself.
Ranald paused and his horse tossed his head at his master’s sudden halt, but Riona didn’t slow her stride. With one long pace he was even with her again.
“And what about the time ye let me go fishing?” she tossed at him. “Except I had to sit in the bottom of the boat and use my skirt to hold yer catch. I smelled of fish for a week.”
Ranald chuckled and shook his head. “That wasnae me, lass.”
She bit her lip, and Ranald wondered why her straight, white teeth fascinated him so. He stared at the reddened mark her bite left behind.
“True,” she allowed. “Ye dinnae like the water, do ye?”
Ranald swallowed back his wayward thoughts. This was Riona, his childhood nemesis, not the sweet widow he’d left behind at Scott Castle.
He caught her sideways glance at him and realized he’d not answered her. “Nae. ‘Tis all that up and down and sideways motion. Makes my stomach churn.”
“How do ye intend to be laird of a people who live by the sea?”
“I cannae say if I’ll ever be much of a sailor, but I will be laird.”
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