How to Marry a Royal Highlander
The Renegade Royals # 4
By: Vanessa Kelly
Releasing June 30, 2015
At sixteen, Alasdair Gilbride, heir to a Scottish earldom, fled the Highlands and an arranged betrothal. Ten years later, Alasdair must travel home to face his responsibilities. It’s a task that would be much easier without the distracting presence of the most enticing woman he’s ever met…
After one escapade too many, Eden Whitney has been snubbed by the ton. The solution: rusticating in the Scottish wilderness, miles from all temptation. Except, of course, for brawny, charming Alasdair. The man is so exasperating she’d likely kill him before they reach the border—if someone else weren’t trying to do just that. Now Eden and Alasdair are plunging into a scandalous affair with his life and her reputation at stake—and their hearts already irreparably lost….
She wrinkled her nose at him. “You’re determined to cast down all my hopes, aren’t you? What good is a castle without a torture chamber?”
“Actually, there is something much better than a torture chamber. Come with me.” He held out a hand.
Edie studied him for a moment, not trusting his seductive smile. But the enticement was too great, so she joined him, and he led her to a set of stairs tucked into the corner of the room. They were very narrow and very steep and, despite her excellent new spectacles, she slipped. From behind, Gilbride clamped his big hands on her hips to steady her.
“Watch your step, love,” he murmured.
The casually uttered endearment set her heart racing. Or perhaps it was the feel of his long fingers curling around her hips, holding on to her just a fraction longer than necessary.
“Thank you,” she managed to squeak out.
She finished the climb in a rush, arriving breathless on the next level. That room was a duplicate of the room below, sans furniture, so Gilbride urged her to keep going. At the top of the staircase, there was a small door that swung open to the roof. She stuck her head out, taking in the parapet that ringed the edges of the steeply peaked roof that rose from the top of the tower.
“Are you game for a look?” Gilbride asked from just below her. She felt sure he was getting quite a good view of her bottom, since it had to be almost in his face. That thought had her going hot all over, despite the sharp breeze that set her bonnet ribbons fluttering.
She scrambled onto the roof then edged away to the right, giving him room to fit his large frame through the small opening. She thought for a moment that his shoulders would get stuck, but he managed to push himself through and up onto the roof.
“I don’t remember that being such a tight fit,” he said.
“I imagine you were smaller the last time you were up here. Now you’re practically a giant.”
“Hardly that, but I was a skinny lad. Tall, but thin as a beanpole. Our cook did her best to fatten me up, but nothing ever seemed to work.”
Gilbride’s body held not an ounce of extra flesh, as far as Edie could tell. “Lucky you. It was quite the opposite in our house. Mamma was forever scolding Evie and me about eating too many sweets. She was terrified we’d end up as—”
She gave him a sheepish smile.
“I assure you, Miss Whitney, there isn’t anything on your frame that doesn’t belong there.”
That rather impudent remark was followed up by a leisurely perusal of her figure. From the appreciative look in his eyes, it seemed the compliment was sincere.
She made herself turn away from him to gaze at the view that made her almost forget that he was flirting with her again.
“It’s beautiful,” she gasped.
The tower was on a high point of land, looking down the hill. Straight below ran woods, purple heather spread out in a dazzling natural carpet. To the left, shimmering in the afternoon sunlight, was a large lake.
“Are those swans?” she asked.
“They are. There have been whooper swans on Mugdock Lake for generations.”
Edie leaned over the waist-high parapet, trying to get a better look. Gilbride snaked an arm around her middle to pull her back.
“Easy does it,” he said. “We’ve kept the tower in good repair, but the stones are very old. I don’t fancy explaining to your mother how I let you tumble off.”
The feel of his arm around her waist left her rather breathless again, so she came back in. It startled her how much she didn’t want him to let go.
Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the pen name of VK Sykes.