It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Monday, July 30, 2012


By Vonda Sinclair
Book #3

Battle-hardened warrior Dirk MacLerie isn't who everyone thinks he is. He's Dirk MacKay, heir apparent to the MacKay chiefdom and Dunnakeil Castle on the far north coast of Scotland. When he returns home after a long absence, will his clan know him and will the duplicitous enemy who tried to murder him twelve years ago kill him in truth this time?

Lady Isobel MacKenzie is a beautiful young widow betrothed to yet another Highland chief by her brother's order. But when her future brother-in-law accosts her and threatens to kill her, she is forced to flee into a Highland snowstorm. When she runs into a rugged and imposing man she thought dead, she wonders if he will turn her over to her enemy or take her to safety.

Dirk remembers the enchanting, dark-eyed Isobel from when he was a lad, but now she is bound to another man by legal contract—an important detail she would prefer to forget. She wishes to choose her own husband and has her sights set on Dirk. But he would never steal another man's bride… would he? The tantalizing lady fires up his passions, testing his willpower and honor at every turn, even as some of his own treacherous clansmen plot his downfall.



With no candle to light her way, Isobel MacKenzie swiftly climbed the stone turnpike staircase within Munrick Castle. Soft footsteps pursued her, spurring her to quicken her pace. Likely, 'twas Nolan MacLeod, her future husband's younger brother. This would not be the first time he'd approached her. He was ever leering at her or murmuring lewd comments when no one was paying attention. She'd done naught to encourage him. In fact, she'd tried her best to ignore him as she awaited the return of her betrothed. No doubt the chief, Torrin, would tell his brother to go attend to his own wife.

When Isobel emerged at the top of the steps, the dimness of the cold corridor gave her a sudden chill. She had been here less than a fortnight and the unfriendly place felt less like home every day.

"Where are you fleeing to, my wee witch?"

Glancing back, she couldn't see him in the stairwell, but the voice belonged to that knave, Nolan.

"Leave me be." She rushed toward the only light, a sconce at the end of the corridor, near her own chamber.

Footsteps thumped behind her on the wooden floorboards, but the boisterous music from the céilidh in the great hall ensured no one would hear. Her heart beating loudly in her ears, she glanced over her shoulder and found him looming no more than two paces away. Stopping, she faced the bastard. In the dimness, one side of his thin lips quirked up within his scraggly brown beard, and the lusty gleam in his light brown eyes disgusted her.

"I'm feeling nauseous and thought I would retire for the evening," she said, glaring up at him. In truth, she wished she could vomit on him. Then, maybe he'd lose some of his unhealthy interest in her.

His smirk broadened and he took a step toward her. "I ken how to make you feel better, lass."

Her stomach truly did turn then. "Where is your wife?"

"Busy. Taking care of the babe."

She cringed. He was the sleaziest of men, seeking out attentions from other women when his wife had only given birth a fortnight ago. 'Twas indeed a pity her intended, Torrin MacLeod, was meeting with another clan and he'd left Nolan to oversee the castle.

"I'm sure she will be looking for you," Isobel said. "And in case you've forgotten, I'm to marry the MacLeod."

Nolan snorted. "Are you thinking Torrin cares about you? He's only seen you one time. Nay, he has Ruthann in the village. He has been smitten with her for years, and they have children."
Could this be true? Her nausea increased tenfold.

"With you, he but wants an heir," Nolan went on. "If you're capable of providing one." He snickered. "The rumor is you're barren, since you failed to produce an heir for your last husband before his death."

Revulsion and anger swelled inside her. She'd heard the rumors about her, but they were all lies.

"That is none of your concern."

"I'm making it my concern. You see, if you're a widow who is barren, it will matter little if we have some fun betwixt the sheets."

She wanted to scratch his eyes out. "I am not barren." At least she didn't think so. It was difficult to tell since she was still a virgin. "Do you think your brother wants your bastard as his heir?" she asked. "Leave me be." She turned toward her room, her skin crawling.

Close on her heels, he grabbed her arm, jerked her around and forced her up against the stone wall. Her heart catapulted into her throat.

She tried to yank herself free, but couldn't budge his grip. "Unhand me!"

"Nay. And be quiet." His breath reeked of strong whisky, and his belted plaid smelled like a wet sheep that had wallowed in a bog.

"Knave! What do you think your brother will say about this?" she asked. "Laird Torrin will be furious." At least she hoped he would. It was her only ammunition.

"He will never know, because if you tell him, you'll regret it." He breathed his odorous breath against her face, then pressed his lips to her neck, his beard scratching her skin.

She cringed. "Ugh." She twisted, trying to wrest herself out of his grip, but his arm only tightened around her.

"And even if he does find out, what of it?" he asked. "He's only marrying you for the three hundred acres in your dowry. You are a seductress and I must have you! Or 'haps you are a witch who has cast a spell upon me."

"You are mad!" She jerked her knee upward, slamming it toward his groin but his sporran and her own skirts hampered her efforts.

He tightened his grip and shoved his legs between hers. "You whore. Don't you dare attempt to fight me. 'Twill only make it worse for you."

He snagged his fingers in the back of her hair and pulled. Her head thumped hard against the stone wall. Pain shot through her skull but she dared not let him know he'd hurt her. Besides, none of his clan would come to her rescue. Nolan could do no wrong in their eyes. She was the outsider.
He covered her mouth with one hand and wrapped the other around her throat. "Do not utter a sound or I'll kill you now," he growled in her ear. "I'll squeeze the breath from your soft, slender neck."

Icy fear freezing her muscles, she remained still, her mind scrambling for an escape. Someone to help her? A weapon? His dagger! It was always in a sheath on his belt. She prayed it was now. If so, she would snatch it and stab him. She went limp as if acquiescing to his demands.

"Aye, that's a good lass. Now, we'll go into your chamber for some privacy." Grinning, he pressed against her so tightly, his hardened member jabbed against her stomach.

Rutting bastard. She would make him regret touching her. Her brothers had taught her well how to fight.

He loosened his hold, propelling her toward the door to her small room. One of his hands bit into her arm, while the other covered her mouth. When he pushed her through the doorway and kicked it shut behind him, her fingers landed on the bone hilt of his dagger. She yanked it from its sheath, the metal hissing against the leather.

"What are you about?" He grabbed her hand and pried at her fingers on the hilt. She jerked her hand, trying to free herself from his tight grasp. A crack sounded and pain shot through her middle finger. Mo chreach!Was the bone broken?

Gritting her teeth and fighting past the pain, she twisted her hand free, retaining her grip on the knife. He swung and his fist bashed into her face. Pain radiating from her cheekbone, she staggered back but stayed on her feet. Damn him!

Lunging forward, she sliced and stabbed at him in the darkness, connecting once.

"Ow! You whore!" he growled. "I vow you'll pay a steep price for this." He grabbed for her.

Ducking aside, she stabbed again, kicked at him and ran across the small room, dodging her trunks of clothing and the bed. Nolan stumbled and fell with a thump.

"I'll kill you," he seethed in a quiet but deadly tone. And she knew he would if he got the chance. Chills of dread and fear covered her.

Although he was fonder of drinking and whoring than practicing his battle skills, he was still far stronger and larger than she. From the bedside table, she picked up the stoneware jug, still containing a bit of watered down wine. She waited for him to move, her heart thumping in her ears.
Truly, she didn't wish to kill him—she didn't wish to kill anyone. But she wouldn't let him use and abuse her.

In the dim glow from the coals in the tiny hearth, she could only discern the outlines of objects.

Growling, Nolan lumbered to his feet and charged for her once again. Using her good hand, she bashed the heavy jug against his head with all her strength. A thwack sounded, stoneware connecting with bone. With a groan, he crashed to the floor. Silence filled the room.

Holding her breath, she waited for him to move, to make a sound.

"I've killed him," she whispered, frozen in shock. "Bashed in his skull."

She set the stoneware jug on the floor and, with trembling fingers, lit a candle from the coals in the hearth to see if he truly was dead. And if so, what would she do? Flee? The clan would sentence her to death and drown her in the icy loch outside when they learned of it. Likely, they wouldn't even wait for her future husband to arrive. Or they might throw her in the dungeon until his return, and starve her.

Saints preserve me.

Her arms jittery and weak, she set the candle on the trunk at the foot of her bed and stared at

Nolan's unmoving body for several long moments. His chest rose and fell with each breath.

"Not dead," she whispered. That was good, she supposed, but he could wake at any moment and try to kill her. Again. She observed him, seeing no movement except for his breathing. He appeared well and truly knocked out, thank the heavens.

Pains shot from her finger. Examining it, she found it was crooked at an odd angle. He had indeed broken it. Damn him! She pressed it between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Pain lanced through it. She sucked in a hissing breath. "Mo chreach!" She'd never before had a broken bone. What could she do about it? She'd seen her brother have his broken arm set when he was a lad. He'd screamed in utter agony.

The door behind her opened and she jumped. Her maid, Beitris, stood frozen upon the threshold, her round eyes locked on Nolan MacLeod illuminated by the candlelight. Isobel pulled her into the room, closed the door and barred it. Her maid had been with her since she was small and she trusted her above all others.

"Can you set a broken finger?" Isobel asked.

Beitris observed her as if she were mad. "What… M'lady, what is it you've done?" She whispered in a shocked tone and motioned toward the man on the floor.

"He is yet alive. You see how his chest rises and falls."

"But… the blood." She pointed at the floor.

For the first time, Isobel noticed candlelight gleaming off a small pool of dark blood spreading from his head. Fear shot through her. Sweet Mother Mary, even if he wasn't dead now, he might be in a short time.

"He tried to force himself on me. The bastard. I will not abide it."

"Doubtless, he will not abide this injury and insult to his pride, either… if he lives."

"I ken it. We'll have to leave, slip away during the night."

Her wide dark eyes troubled, Beitris nodded. "But where will we go? 'Tis late fall and the weather is turning."

"I know not, but I'll be found guilty for attacking him, even if he lives. And if he dies…" She shook her head, fear chilling her bones. "They'll drown me in the loch. You know that."

Indeed, women were not hanged in Scotland for crimes such as murder. Instead, they were drowned. And trials were only a farce in most cases. Many an innocent woman had been drowned.

Who knew what Torrin MacLeod would say about it? Rarely did brothers go against each other.

Even if he would defend her, he wasn't here at Munrick now and might not return for a week or more.

"We'll make our way back home to Dornie," Isobel said. "My brother would not suffer me to marry into this clan… with a would-be rapist for a brother-in-law."

"But Dornie is many miles south of here."

"Indeed." Her stomach knotted at exactly how far that was, perhaps a hundred miles.

"'Twas not your fault, m'lady."

"That will matter little in their eyes. Hurry. Put on all your clothes." Rushing and trying to ignore the pain in her finger, Isobel sloppily layered most of the clothing she possessed onto her body, choosing her most worn arisaid to go over the top of it all. She pulled the upper portion of the tan and green plaid over her head. The thick woolen garment contained a few small holes, but it had been her grandmother's. Isobel always kept it with her. All her small possessions, including silver and gold coins, her jewelry and her small flute went into the pouch at her waist, hidden beneath the layers.

Next, she picked up the dagger she'd dropped—Nolan's dirk—and wiped the blade clean on his plaid. She shouldn't take it, but she needed a weapon if she was setting out over the Highlands with no one but her maid. Thieves and outlaws were plentiful.

Through the narrow window, she saw that it was pitch black outside. With winter approaching, gloaming came early, and dawn would arrive late in the morn. No moon shined through the clouds this night. They'd need light. Bending, she took the candle and lit her small metal and horn lantern, which sat on the trunk. It had been her mother's and Isobel had used it since she was a child.

What else might they need? She had no food or drink here in her chamber. She glanced around the room and spotted bricks of peat lying by the hearth. They were lightweight and could be exchanged for a night's lodging or burned for heat if necessary. She crammed five into the large pouch that the bulky material of her arisaid made when it bunched out over her belt and took the two extra candles lying on the mantel.

"We must slip out during the céilidh. Come," Isobel whispered, picking up the lantern and heading toward the door.

In the corridor, Nolan's bearded, wiry manservant approached in his worn, belted plaid. Isobel's heart rate spiked. Once Beitris had exited the room, Isobel closed the door and stood before it. She prayed Nolan made no sound inside.

"M'lady, have you seen Master MacLeod?" the servant asked. "His wife is wondering where he got off to."


"I REALLY enjoyed My Brave Highlander. Lots of action and sensuality--Dirk is so intense and yet when he's near Isobel the heat crackles and his defenses fall. The scenery is vivid and magical. I felt like I was in the midst of the Highlands, the snow falling and melting on my cheeks. Beyond the sizzling sensual tension (which Ms. Sinclair is an expert at weaving!) the adventurous plot had me on the edge of my seat. And Dirk's enemy--HATED with a passion. Ms. Sinclair has the unique ability to pull an emotional response from her reader on every single page.

"Filled with romance, I had a constant smile to my face, I got chills, the whole nine yards! This might be my favorite of all three books in the Highland Adventure series. Well done, Ms. Sinclair--I highly recommend this book! And I can't wait to read the next one!" Eliza Knight, History Undressed

"I loved MY BRAVE HIGHLANDER! An intriguing tale of Love, Loss, Betrayal and heart stopping romance! A story you definitely DON'T want to miss! You gotta love those Highlanders!" A.L. Snider, Chicks of Characterization

Vonda Sinclair's favorite indulgent pastime is exploring Scotland, from Edinburgh to the untamed and windblown north coast. She also enjoys creating hot, Highland heroes and spirited lasses to drive them mad. She is a past Golden Heart finalist and Laurie award winner. She lives with her amazing and supportive husband in the mountains of North Carolina where she is no doubt creating another Scottish story. Please visit her website to learn more.

***I have personally read this book and it DOES NOT disapoint!!***
*Vonda will be giving away an E-copy of MY BRAVE HIGHLANDER to one lucky commenter. Please leave your E-mail address with your comment in order to be eligible.*

CONGRATULATIONS to SUZY you are the WINNER of Vonda's GIVEAWAY please contact us with your E-mail address so we can get you your prize! If we do not hear from you in 5 days we will have to pick a new winner!!


Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks so much for featuring my book, Andrea!! :)

bittenbyromance said...

I love Vonda's highlanders! Please enter me and thanks for the giveaway Vonda, best to you!!


Suzy said...

Thanks for the chance to win... love a good highland story and I'm looking forward to reading #3...
Have a good summer!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks Laurie and Suzy!! :) If you read it, hope you enjoy. I had a lot of fun writing it!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Vonda never disappoints with her stories. I am so excited to see another one of her stories ready to read. Great cover!!!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks tons, Paisley!! Hope you like this one too. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the chance to win, Vonda. Your Highlanders are the best!


Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks a bunch, Jena! I'm so glad you like them!

Camryn Rhys said...

I can't wait to read this book!!

Cora Blu said...

I love the excerpt. Will have to find time to read this. I would have clubbed him over the head too for breathing his foul whiskey on me :)
Congrats, Vonda.
Cora Blu

Vonda Sinclair said...

Camryn, thanks!!

LOL Thanks, Cora! He got what he deserved.

Warrior Woman Winmill said...

I do love my highlanders.I would love to read this.

Gerri Bowen said...

Love, loved, loved the excerpt, Vonda! You have a winner. :)

Vonda Sinclair said...

Petula, thanks! I'm glad you're wanting to read it.

Thanks tons, Gerri! I'm so glad you like the excerpt! I love strong heroines who can sock it to bullies.

Eliza Knight said...

I loved this book!! Wishing you many sales!

Vonda Sinclair said...

Thanks a bunch, Eliza!! I'm so happy you enjoyed it! :)

hotcha12 said...

puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrr Vonda is it HOT in here? lol

B.J. Scott said...

Tried earlier to comment but had no luck, so trying again ;)

Love your new cover and the book sounds amazing. Best of luck.

Vonda Sinclair said...

LOL thanks, Linda!

B.J. thanks! Sorry you had such a problem with it. I'm so glad you like the cover!

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