Release date: February 15, 2016
Blackmailed into marrying her family’s enemy, then swiftly widowed by illness, Lady Sorcha Marr must take charge of a clan she hates as much as they hate her. But fate intervenes in the form of her husband’s twin—the man who betrayed her and led to her downfall.
Sir Colin Marr fled his Highland home in disgrace, believing he would never again see the woman he loved. Returning a decade later to root out Scottish traitors who have infiltrated his family stronghold, he must persuade Sorcha to set aside her hostility and treat him as her husband in his brother’s place. He needs the cover not only to save Scotland but her inheritance his resentful clan would gladly confiscate.
Has fate set them up to even an old score, or is it giving them a new shot at learning to trust … and love?
by Rue Allyn
Historical romance author Rue Allyn lives in southeast Michigan with the love of her life and one tyrannical cat, where she works daily on making Happy Ever After come true.
Find Rue Allyn at RueAllyn.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter @RueAllyn.
An excerpt from Knight Protector:
January 1295, Northern Scotland
Once she thought she’d loved him. She’d been wrong.
Moonless night poured in through the two large windows of the earl’s bedchamber at Strathnaver stronghold. Sorcha MacKai-Marr, reluctant Countess of Strathnaver, hung her dark red cloak on a peg, bolted the door behind her, and with halting steps returned to her husband’s bedside. The earl no longer breathed; he’d died while she was out. She sighed, turned from the husk on the bed and sat to warm herself by the hearth. She wished she could weep and moan, but she was no a hypocrite. She’d hated Brice Marr for the past ten years, moreso in the short month they’d been wed. She would mourn the passing of a human soul and pray for it as she ought. However, for the man who’d been Earl of Strathnaver the kindest emotion she could feel was relief and a great deal of worry.
What was to become of her? She had rights she was certain and nae doubt some inheritance from her husband, but she knew none of the details. In this stronghold of enemies, whom could she trust? She would have sought counsel and shelter from her brother, Baron Raeb MacKai, had she nae defied him to marry a hated Marr. She’d had her reasons and chose nae to share them. Now that choice left her without recourse for as a Marr she was nae welcome at her childhood home.
Nor would she remain at Strathnaver; she hated the Marrs as much as did any MacKai. Mayhap, if she were lucky, she might receive an inheritance large enough that the church would take her in. The life of a nun was nae what she’d dreamed of, but what other choice had she? She’d sealed her destiny when she agreed to marry Brice Marr. Nothing would change it now.
She closed her eyes against the bleak and empty future. Worry and regret would serve no purpose, fear and bitterness must be banished or ignored, and the dead must be honored. Time enough to find solutions to her troubles during the three days of vigil over her husband’s body. Resigned to the uproar the death announcement would cause, she opened her eyes and screamed.
Her husband’s hand covered her mouth before more than a squeak sounded. His free arm snatched her from her seat and banded her against his torso—a torso far too well muscled to have been wasted from weeks of fever and bloody flux. At least she thought it was her husband until a wild glance at the bed showed his body still lay there.
But the face looming above hers was …? “Colin?”
Only a muffled gurgle emerged.
“Shh. Do you want the entire clan to hear you?” The cold, green eyes studying her held a warning.
She nodded as vigorously as possible. Of course she wanted to be heard—she was alone with a man who had betrayed her, caused her parents’ deaths, cast her clan into poverty, killed her dreams, and broken her heart.
“Nae. Before you tell anyone of my presence or Brice’s passing, we must talk.” He released her and stepped away.
Hand to her throat, she stumbled backward. “You canna be here. You are dead.”
He smiled, took her fingers and pressed them to his chest. “Does this feel dead to you?”
His heart beat strong and steady. Even through his dark jerkin his heat burned into her palm. She snatched her hand away.
“But. . .” She looked from him to the body on the bed and back. “Brice said you died in France these eight years past.”
One corner of his mouth kicked up. “You never did wish to admit he lied more often than he told the truth. Now you have proof. However, we have more important matters to discuss than my brother’s treachery.”
“His treachery? What of your own?”
Colin closed his eyes and clenched his jaw. “I never meant to hurt you, muirnean.”
She snorted her disgust at his lie.
“I have naught to say to you,” she hissed, turning her head away. She would nae allow him to hurt her again. Would nae allow his deep voice, his slumberous green eyes, or his clever mouth to influence her. Would nae be swayed by his spicy leather and man scent. The wounds he’d caused still bled, his betrayal an open sore that time could no heal.