The first book in the Highland Warriors trilogy, in which three heroes make a pact to insure that a rival clan does not take over their Glen of Many Legends. At the same time, three women plot to marry these heroes to insure peace.
In SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL, James Cameron is concerned when the King's decree states all three neighboring clans must have a battle to the death in order to lay official claim to the scared Glen of Many Legends. James attempts to make a pact with the heads of the other clans to fight this decree. But he ends up fighting his own fierce desire when coming head-to-head with Lady Catriona of the opposing MacDonald clan, who has her own plan for peace.
About the Author
Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a Scotophile whose burning wish to make frequent trips to the land of her dreams led her to a twenty-year career with the airlines.
Now a full-time writer, she's quick to admit that she much prefers wielding a pen to pushing tea and coffee. She makes annual visits to Scotland, insisting they are a necessity, as each trip gives her inspiration for new books.
Proud of her own Hebridean ancestry, she belongs to two clan societies: the MacFie Clan Society and the Clan MacAlpine Society. In addition to Scotland, her greatest passions are medieval history, the paranormal, and dogs. She never watches television, loves haggis, and writes at a 450-year-old desk that once stood in a Bavarian castle.
Sue-Ellen is married and currently resides with her husband and Jack Russell terrier in Florida.
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Read an Excerpt
Sins of a Highland Devil
By Welfonder, Sue-Ellen
ForeverCopyright © 2011 Welfonder, Sue-Ellen
All right reserved.
THE GLEN OF MANY LEGENDS
A battle to the death?”
Alasdair MacDonald’s deep voice rose to the smoke-blackened rafters of his great hall. Across that crowded space, his sister, Lady Catriona, stood frozen on the threshold. Alasdair’s harsh tone held her there, but she did lift a hand to the amber necklace at her throat. A clan heirloom believed to protect and aid MacDonalds, the precious stones warmed beneath her fingers. She fancied they also hummed, though it was difficult to tell with her brother’s roar shaking the walls. Other kinsmen were also shouting, but it was Alastair’s fury that echoed in her ears.
His ranting hit her like a physical blow.
Her brother was a man whose clear blue eyes always held a spark of humor. And his laughter, so rich and catching, could brighten the darkest winter night, warming the hearts and spirits of everyone around him.
Just now he paced in the middle of his hall, his handsome face twisted in rage. His shoulder-length auburn hair—always his pride—was untidy, looking wildly mussed, as if he’d repeatedly thrust angry fingers through the finely burnished mane.
“Sakes! This is no gesture of goodwill.” His voice hardened, thrumming with barely restrained aggression. “Whole clans cut down. Good men murdered—and for naught, as I and my folk see it!”
Everywhere, MacDonalds grumbled and scowled.
Some shook fists in the air, others rattled swords. At least two spat on the rush-strewn floor, and a few had such fire in their eyes it was almost a wonder that the air didn’t catch flame.
Only one man stood unaffected.
A stranger. Catriona saw him now because one of her cousins moved and torchlight caught and shone on the man’s heavily bejeweled sword belt.
She stared at the newcomer, not caring if her jaw slipped. She did step deeper into the hall’s arched entry, though her knees shook badly. She also forgot to shut the heavy oaken door she’d just opened wide. Cold, damp wind blew past her, whipping her hair and gutting candles on a nearby table. A few wall torches hissed and spat, spewing ashes at her, but she hardly noticed.
What was a bit of soot on her skirts when the quiet peace of Blackshore had turned to chaos?
When Alasdair spoke of war?
As chief to their clan, he wasn’t a man to use such words lightly. And even if he were, the flush on his face and the fierce set of his jaw revealed that something dire had happened. The stranger—a Lowland noble by his finery—didn’t bode well either.
Men of his ilk never came to Blackshore.
The man’s haughty stance showed that he wasn’t pleased to be here now. And unlike her brother, he’d turned and was looking right at her. His gaze flicked over her, and then he lifted one brow, almost imperceptibly.
His opinion of her was palpable.
The insolence in that slightly arched brow, a galling affront.
Annoyance stopped the knocking of her knees, and she could feel her blood heating, the hot color sweeping up her neck to scald her cheeks.
The man looked amused.
Catriona was sure she’d seen his lips twitch.
Bristling, she pulled off her mud-splattered cloak and tossed it on a trestle bench. She took some satisfaction in seeing the visitor’s eyes widen and then narrow critically when he saw that the lower half of her gown was as wet and soiled as her mantle. She had, after all, just run across the narrow stone causeway that connected her clan’s isle-girt castle with the loch shore.
She’d raced to beat the tide. But even hurrying as she had, the swift-moving current was faster. She’d been forced to hitch up her skirts and splash through the swirling water, reaching the castle gates just before the causeway slipped beneath the rising sea loch.
It was a mad dash that always exhilarated her. As she did every day, she’d burst into the hall, laughing and with her hair in a wild tangle from the wind. Now she might look a fright, but her elation was gone.
“What’s happened?” She hurried forward to clutch Alasdair’s arm, dread churning in her belly. “What’s this about clans being cut down? A battle—”
“Not a true battle.” Alasdair shot a glance at the Lowlander. “A trial by combat—”
“I see no difference.” She raised her chin, not wanting the stranger to see her worry. It was clear he’d brought this madness. That showed in the curl of his lip, a half-sneer that revealed his disdain for Highlanders.
Alasdair noticed, too. She hadn’t missed the muscle jerking in his jaw.
She tightened her grip on him. “If men are to die, what matters the name you cast on their blood?”
Behind her, someone closed the hall door. And somewhere in the smoke-hazed shadows, one of her kinsmen snarled a particularly vile curse. Catriona released her brother’s arm and reached again for her amber necklace. She twirled its length around her fingers, clutching the polished gems as if they might answer her. Her own special talisman, the ambers often comforted her.
Now they didn’t.
Worse, everyone was staring at her. The Lowlander eyed her as if she were the devil’s own spawn. He surely saw her fiery-red hair as the brand of a witch. Almost wishing she was—just so she could fire-blast him—she straightened her back and let her eyes blaze. MacDonald pride beat through her, giving her strength and courage.
She turned to Alasdair. “You needn’t tell me this has to do with the Camerons or the Mackintoshes. I can smell their taint in the air.”
“My sister, Lady Catriona.” He addressed the Lowlander, not her. “She sometimes forgets herself.”
“I but speak the truth. As for my appearance, I was enjoying the day’s brisk wind—a walk in our hills.” She flicked her skirts, righting them. “Had I known we had guests”—she met the man’s hooded gaze—“I would have returned before the tide ran.”
It was the only explanation he’d get from her.
“Lady.” The stranger inclined his head, his dark eyes unblinking. “I greet you.”
She refrained from asking who greeted her. His rich garments and jewels had already marked him as a fat-pursed, well-positioned noble. Not that such loftiness counted here, deep in the Highlands, where a man’s deeds and honor mattered so much more than glitter and gold.
As if he read her mind and knew she was about to say so, her brother cleared his throat. “This, Catriona”—he indicated the Lowlander—“is Sir Walter Lindsay, the King’s man. He’s brought tidings from court. A writ from the King, expressing his royal will.”
Catriona bent a chilly look upon the man. The churning in her stomach became a tight, hard knot.
Somehow she managed to dip in a semblance of a curtsy. “Good sir, welcome to Blackshore Castle.” She couldn’t bring herself to say my lord. “We’ve never before greeted such a noble guest to our glen.”
Sir Walter’s brow lifted. He said nothing, but a slight flaring of his nostrils showed he knew she wished she weren’t forced to greet him now.
“It is because of the glen that he’s here.” Alasdair’s words made her heart go still. “The King wishes that—”
“What does our glen have to do with the King?” She didn’t want to know.
“The crown is greatly interested in this glen, my lady.” Sir Walter rested his hand lightly on the sword at his hip. “Your King would see peace in these hills. He is weary of the endless provocations between your clan and the other two who share this land. I am here to inform you that”—his gaze went to Alasdair—“he orders a trial of combat to ensure his will is met.”
“Highland men keep their own peace,” someone called from near the hearth.
Other voices rose in agreement, and Catriona’s heart leapt. Surely the men of the clan would send Sir Walter on his way, King’s courier or not. But Alasdair only strode to the high table and snatched up a rolled parchment, its red wax seals dangling and broken. When he turned back to the hall, his face was darker than ever, the writ clenched in a tight, white-knuckled grip.
“There are many here, Sir Walter, who would say this”—he raised his hand, shaking the scroll—“has too much blood on it to be worth any peace. We of this glen have our own ways of handling trouble. Even so, you’ll no’ see a single MacDonald refuse the King’s challenge.” Slapping the scroll back onto the table, he dusted his hands, demonstrably. “No’ under the terms set before us.”
The kinsman standing closest to Catriona, a young lad built like a steer and with hair as flame-bright as her own, spat onto the floor rushes. “Threatening to banish us from the glen be no terms!”
“They are the King’s terms.” Sir Walter’s voice was impervious. “Be assured the Camerons and the Mackintoshes will receive the same warning.”
Catriona heard the terrible words through a buzzing in her ears. Her head was beginning to pound, but she wouldn’t show weakness by pressing her hands to her temples. She did flash a glance at her brother. Like every other MacDonald in the hall, he looked ready to whip out his sword and run the King’s man through.
If she weren’t a woman, she’d pull her own steel.
As it was, she suppressed a shudder and chose her words with care. “I missed the reading of your tidings, Sir Walter.” His name tasted like ash on her tongue. “Perhaps you will repeat them for me?
“And”—she tilted her chin—“his reasons for placing us under his vaunted regard?”
“With pleasure, my lady.” Sir Walter took her hand, lowering his head over her knuckles in an air kiss that jellied her knees in an icy, unpleasant way. “The King’s will is that a trial of combat—a fight to the death—should be held in the glen. King Robert proposes within a fortnight.”
He looked into her eyes. “Thirty champions from each of the three clans of the glen must face each other. They shall fight stripped of all but their plaids and armed with swords, dirks, axes. A bow with three arrows per man shall be allowed, and a shield. But no quarter may be given.
“Spectators will attend, and specially dispatched royal guards will assure that no man leaves the field.” His gaze narrowed on her, his mien hardening. “At the trial’s end, the clan with the most champions standing will be the one who wins your glen.”
Catriona went hot and cold. “The Glen of Many Legends already is ours, the MacDonalds’. Robert Bruce granted it to my great-great-grandfather in tribute to our support at Bannockburn. Our men should not have to spill blood for what they fought and won with such honor.”
“She speaks the truth, by God!” Alasdair banged his fist on a table. “Would your King see the good King Robert’s charter undone?”
“King Robert Stewart would see an end to the strife in his realm.” Sir Walter’s voice was clipped. “The unrest and lawlessness in these parts—”
“Lawlessness?” Alasdair’s face darkened. “What do you, a Lowlander, know of—”
“Do you deny the murders of three Mackintoshes this past summer?” Sir Walter examined his fingernails, flicked a speck of lint from his sleeve. “Innocent men killed in cold blood not far from these very walls?”
“They were stealing our cattle!” The redheaded youth next to Catriona stepped forward. “They chose to stand and face us when we caught them. It was a fair fight, no’ murder.”
Sir Walter’s face remained cold. “Clan Mackintosh made a formal complaint to the court. Their chief informed us they were taking cattle to replace revenue tolls they lost because you menaced and threatened wayfarers trying to use the mountain pass above their stronghold.”
“Aye, and what if we did?” Catriona began to shake with fury. “Every time our drovers attempt to use that pass to drive our beasts to the cattle trysts, the Mackintoshes block the way, barring passage to us. Even”—she drew a hot breath—“when we offered them double their toll.”
“They cost us revenue!” The shout came from the back of the hall. A clansman riled by such absurdity. “They’ve been blocking that pass to us for years. We tired of it.”
“The Mackintoshes are troublemakers.” Catriona could scarce speak for anger. “Clan Cameron is worse.”
A shiver ripped through her on the name, her heart pumping furiously as the insolent face of the dread clan’s chief flashed across her mind. Worse than the devil, James Cameron ridiculed her every time their paths crossed. There were few men she reviled more. Though just now she’d almost prefer his bold gaze and taunts to Sir Walter’s superior stare.
Eyes narrowed, she fixed him with her own frostiest air. “Camerons cannot breathe without spewing insults.” She tossed back her hair, knew her face was coloring. “They are an ancient line of Satan-spawned—”
“Ahhh…” Sir Walter spread his hands. “With so many transgressors afoot, you surely see why the King’s intervention is necessary?”
“Necessary a pig’s eye!” someone yelled near the hearth fire.
Though, with Sir Walter harping on the past summer’s squabble with the Mackintoshes, she could imagine that an overblown account of the incident might have reached the King’s royal ear.
“Are the Mackintoshes behind this?” She could believe it. The cloven-footed trumpet-blasters wasted no opportunity to shout their claim to the glen. “Did they send another complaint to court? Asking for the crown’s interference?”
Sir Walter’s mouth jerked, proving they had. “They did send a petition in recent days, yes.”
Catriona flushed. “I knew it!”
“They weren’t alone. Clan Cameron also sent an appeal, if you’d hear the whole of it.” Sir Walter’s tone was smooth. The glint in his eye showed that he enjoyed her distress. “Indeed”—he actually smiled—“it surprised us that we did not hear from your brother, considering.”
“Considering what?” Catriona’s belly clenched again.
Sir Walter’s smile vanished. “Perhaps you should ask your brother.”
Catriona turned to Alasdair, but when he fisted his hands and his mouth flattened into a hard, tight line, her heart dropped.
Whatever it was that she didn’t yet know was grim.
“Lady Edina has passed.” Alasdair spoke at last. “She did not leave a testament. Nor, according to the abbess at St. Bride’s”—he drew a deep breath—“did she ever make her wishes known to anyone.”
Catriona swallowed. Guilt swept her.
She hadn’t thought of the old woman in years. She’d been little more than a babe in swaddling when Lady Edina went, by choice, into a Hebridean nunnery. At the time—or so clan elders claimed—she’d desired a life of serenity and solitude behind cloistered walls.
But Edina MacDonald was hereditary heiress to the Glen of Many Legends.
She was also twice widowed. Her first husband—Catriona’s heart seized with the horror of it—had been a Cameron and her second, a Mackintosh.
And now Lady Edina was dead.
Catriona wheeled to face Sir Walter. “This is the true meaning of your visit. Now that Lady Edina is gone, and without a will, the King means to take our lands.”
Again, shouts and curses rose in the hall as MacDonalds everywhere agreed. Men stamped feet and pounded the trestles with their fists. The castle dogs joined in, their barks and howls deafening.
Even Geordie, a half-lamed beast so ancient he rarely barked at all, lent his protest from his tattered plaid bed beside the hearth fire.
Sir Walter stood unmoved. “These lands are the King’s, by any right, as even you must know. Be glad he wishes only to bring you peace,” he said, his weasel-smooth voice somehow cutting through the din. “When he received petitions from both the Camerons and the Mackintoshes claiming their due as Lady Edina’s heirs, he knew strong measures would be needed to settle this glen. He wishes to see these hills held by the clan most worthy.”
Alasdair made a sound that could only be called a growl. His face turned purple.
Catriona’s ambers blazed against her neck, the stones’ pulsing heat warning her of danger. She took a deep breath, drawing herself up until the disturbing prickles receded and her necklace cooled.
“How did the Camerons and Mackintoshes know of Lady Edina’s death?” She looked at the Lowlander. “Why weren’t we informed, as well?”
“You know better than me how swiftly—or erroneously—word travels in these parts.” Sir Walter shrugged. “Perhaps a missive meant for you went astray? Either way—”
“You mean to see good men slaughtered.” Catriona felt bile rise in her throat. “Men who—”
“Men who fight, yes, until only one remains standing.” Sir Walter set his hand on his sword again, his fingers curling around the hilt. “If they do not”—his voice chilled—“you must face the consequences. Banishment from this glen to parts even wilder. Resettlement, if you will, in places where the crown can make use of men with ready sword arms and women adept at breeding.”
The words spoken, he folded his arms. “The choice is yours.”
Across the hall, Geordie barked hoarsely.
Out of the corner of her eye, Catriona thought she saw the dog struggling to rise. She wasn’t sure, because the hall was spinning, going black and white before her eyes. Around her, her kinsmen shouted and cursed, the noise hurting her ears. Even more alarming, something whirled and burned inside her. It was a horrible, swelling heat that filled her chest until she couldn’t breathe.
Slowly, she felt down and along the folds of her skirts, seeking the lady dirk hidden there. But she caught herself in time, clasping her hands tightly before her just before her fingers closed on the blade.
Ramming a dagger into the King’s man would bring even more grief to her clan.
But she was tempted.
Fighting the urge, she looked from the Lowlander to Alasdair and back again. “I believe, Sir Walter, that my brother has given you our choice. MacDonalds won’t be driven from their land. These hills were our own before ever a Stewart called himself a king. If our men must take up arms to avoid the Stewart wrongfully banishing us from a glen we’ve held for centuries, so be it.”
A curt nod was Sir Walter’s reply.
Returning it, Catriona dipped another curtsy and then showed him her back. She needed all her dignity, but she kept her spine straight as she strode to one of the hall’s tall, arch-topped windows. Once there, she stared out at the sea loch, not surprised to see its smooth gray surface pitted with a light, drizzly rain. Dark clouds crouched low on the hills, and thin tendrils of mist slid down the braes, sure portents that even more rain was coming.
The Glen of Many Legends was crying.
But she would not.
She wouldn’t break even if the Lowland King and his minions ripped the heart right out of her. Highlanders were the proudest, most stoic of men. And MacDonalds were the best of Highlanders.
So she stepped closer to the window, welcoming the cold, damp air on her cheeks. Countless MacDonald women before her had stood at this same window embrasure. In a fortnight’s passing, her brother and cousins would ensure that they would continue to do so in years to come. It was just unthinkable that they were being forced to do so with their lives.
Incomprehensible and—she knew deep inside—quite possibly more than she could bear.
When Geordie bumped her hand, leaning into her and whimpering, she knew she had to try. But even as she dug her fingers into the old dog’s shaggy coat, the sea loch and the hills blurred before her. She blinked hard, unable to bring her world back into focus. The stinging heat pricking her eyes only worsened, though she did keep her tears from falling.
On the day of the battle she’d do the same. She’d stand tall and look on with pride, doing her name honor.
Somehow she’d endure.
Whatever it cost her.
Nearly a fortnight later, James Cameron stood atop the battlements of Castle Haven and glared down at the worst folly to ever darken the Glen of Many Legends. Wherever he looked, Lowlanders bustled about the fine vale beneath the castle’s proud walls. A different sort than the lofty souls gorging themselves on good Cameron beef in his great hall, these scrambling intruders were workmen. Minions brought along to do the nobles’ bidding, whose busy hands erected viewing platforms while their hurrying feet flattened the sweetest grass in the glen.
Already, they’d caused scars.
Deep pits had been gouged into the fertile earth. Ugly black gashes surely meant to hold cook fires. Or—James’s throat filled with bile—the bodies of the slain.
On the hills, naked swaths showed where tall Scots pines had been carelessly felled to provide wood. Jagged bits of the living, weeping trees littered the ground.
“Christ God!” James blew out a hot breath, the destruction searing him with an anger so heated he wondered his fury didn’t blister the air.
He went taut, his every muscle stiff with rage.
Beside him, his cousin Colin wrapped his hands around his sword belt. “They haven’t wasted a breath of time,” he vowed, eyeing the stout barricades already marking the battling ground where so many men would die.
A circular enclosure better suited to contain cattle than proud and fearless men.
James narrowed his gaze on the pen, unable to think of it as aught else. “Only witless peacocks wouldn’t know that such barricading isn’t necessary.”
Colin flashed a look at him, one brow raised in scorn. “Perhaps they do not know that Highland men never run from a fight?”
“They shall learn our measure soon enough.” James rolled his shoulders, keen to fight now. “Though”—he threw a glance at the men working on the nearest viewing platform—“I might be tempted to flee their hammering!”
Half serious, he resisted the urge to clamp his hands to his ears. But he couldn’t keep an outraged snarl from rumbling in his throat. The din was infernal. Any moment his head would burst from the noise. Each echoing bang was an ungodly smear on the quiet of the glen, most especially here, in this most beauteous stretch of the Glen of Many Legends.
Equally damning, the MacDonald wench once again stood at the edge of the chaos. On seeing her, he felt an even hotter flare of irritation. He stepped closer to the walling, hoping he erred. Unfortunately, he hadn’t. She was truly there, hands on her hips and looking haughty as she glared at the Lowland workmen.
Joining him at the wall, Colin gave a low whistle. “She’s Catriona MacDonald, the chief’s sister. Word is she’s the wildest of that heathenish lot.”
“I know who she is.” James glared at his cousin, not liking the speculative gleam in his eye. “And she is wild—so prickly some say she sleeps in a bed of nettles.”
Colin laughed. “She’s bonnie all the same.”
“So is the deep blue sea until you sink in its depths and drown.” James scowled at the lass.
Pure trouble, she’d clearly come to show her wrath. As she’d done every day since the Lowlanders began setting up their gaudy tents and seating. If Colin hadn’t noticed her before now, James had. He always noticed her, rot his soul. And just now, she was especially hard to miss with the sun picking out the bright copper strands in her hair and her back so straight she might have swallowed a steel rod. And if he didn’t want to lose his temper in front of workmen who—he knew—were only following orders, he would’ve marched down to the field days ago and chased her away.
He’d done so once, running her off Cameron land years ago, when he’d been too young and hotheaded to know better than thrusting his hand into a wasp nest.
She’d stung him badly that day. And the memory still haunted him. At times, sneaking into his dreams and twisting his recollections so that, instead of sprinting away from him, she’d be on her back beneath him, opening her arms in welcome, tempting him to fall upon her and indulge in the basest, most lascivious sins.
Furious that she stirred him even now, he tore his gaze from her and frowned at the long rows of colorful awnings, the triumphal pennons snapping in the wind. The festive display shot seething anger through his veins. Truth be told, if one of the King’s worthies appeared on the battlements, he wouldn’t be able to restrain himself.
Apparently feeling the same, Colin stepped back a few paces and whipped out his sword, thrusting it high. “Forget the MacDonald wench and her jackal blood. We could”—he made a flourish with the blade—“have done with yon mummery in the old way! Cut down the Lowland bastards and toss them into a loch. We then block every entry into the glen, keep silent, and no one need know they even reached us.”
He grinned wickedly, sliced a ringing arc in the cold afternoon air.
James strode forward and grabbed Colin’s wrist, stopping his foolery. “The old way ne’er included murdering innocents. The workmen”—he jerked a glance at them—“are naught but lackeys. Their blood on our hands would forever stain our honor. Sir Walter’s blood, much as I’d love to spill it, would bring a King’s army into the glen. No matter what we did, they’d come. Even if every clan in the Highlands rose with us against them, their number alone would defeat us.
“And”—he released Colin’s arm, nodding grimly when his cousin sheathed the blade—“King Robert would then do more than scatter us. He’d put us to the horn, outlawing us so that we’d lose no’ just our land but our very name. A fire-and-sword edict passed quicker than you can blink. That, he would do!”
Colin scowled, flushing red. “Damnation!”
“Aye,” James agreed, his own face flaming. “We are damned whate’er. So we do what is left to us. We keep our pride and honor and prove what hard fighters we are. With God’s good grace, we shall be victorious.”
Colin’s chin came up, his eyes glinting. “Perhaps He will bless us now.” He flashed a wicked grin and strode for the door arch. “I’m off to the hall to see if God in His greatness might cause Sir Walter to choke on a fish bone. I shall pray on the way.”
James’s lips twitched. On another day, he would have thrown back his head and laughed. As it was, he watched Colin hasten into the stair tower without another word. Only when his young cousin’s footsteps faded did he glance at the heavens and mutter a prayer of his own.
Then he whipped around to toss another glower at Lady Catriona, even though she couldn’t see him.
He snorted when he saw her.
She’d edged even closer to one of the viewing platforms, her glare pinned on the workmen. James shuddered just looking at her. He almost felt sorry for the men flamed by her scorching stare. Deepest blue yet piercing as the sun, her eyes could burn holes in a man if he didn’t take care.
James knew it well, much to his annoyance.
Fortunately, their paths didn’t cross often, but each time they’d had the displeasure, he’d regretted it for days.
Just now, with the wind blowing her skirts and her hair whipping about her face, he almost felt an odd kinship with her. There was something about the challenging tilt of her chin and the blaze in her eyes that—for one crazy, mad moment—made her not a MacDonald but every Highland woman who’d ever walked the hills.
Almost, he was proud of her.
But almost was just that—something that hovered just short of being.
He let his gaze sweep over her one last time, glad that it was so. Catriona MacDonald was the last woman he wished to admire.
Blotting her from his mind, he strode to another part of the battlements, choosing a corner where the sight of her wouldn’t spoil his view. Then he braced himself and stared past the fighting ground to the hills beyond, deep blue and silent against the sky. Directly across from him, a sparkling rock-strewn cataract plunged down a narrow gorge cut deep into one of the hills. It was the same vista he enjoyed from his bedchamber window. The sight—as always—took his breath and made his heart squeeze. This day, the falls’ beauty also quenched any last shred of sympathy he might have felt for the MacDonald she-wolf.
In Cameron hands since distant times, the glen was his birthright and his joy. Cloud shadows drifted across its length, the gentle play of light and dark bleeding his soul. His eyes misted at the well-loved scene, his throat thickening. He’d always believed his children would one day love the glen with equal fierceness. That they’d carry on tradition, bound to the land and appreciating their heritage, teaching their own offspring to do the same.
He wrenched his gaze from the glen, fury whipping through him like a flame to tinder. He should’ve known better than to come up here. But Colin had wanted to see the workmen’s progress. And, truth be told, brisk winds always blew across the ramparts and he’d relished a few moments in the cold, clean air before courtesy demanded he join Sir Walter and his ravenous friends in the hall.
The man’s lofty airs and barely veiled insults were more than any man should have to tolerate within his own walls. And watching Lindsay and his henchmen eat their way through Castle Haven’s larders—with neither the MacDonalds nor the Mackintoshes helping with the costs—was as galling as it was enlightening.
No matter how the trial of combat ended, the other two clans of the glen would never change their colors.
Most especially the MacDonalds.
The she-wolf’s presence on the field vouched for their obstinacy. Just as her flay-a-man stares proved they had a touch of the devil in them.
It was a taint that might serve them well when they soon found themselves in hell.
James’s pulse quickened imagining them there.
It was a fine thought.
A well-met fate that sent a surge of satisfaction shooting through him. He could see them landing on Hades’ hottest hob or in a deep, icy pit where they could languish for eons, pondering their treacheries.
They deserved no better.
Pity was so many Camerons would be joining them.
Excerpted from Sins of a Highland Devil by Welfonder, Sue-Ellen Copyright © 2011 by Welfonder, Sue-Ellen. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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In 1396 King Robert Stewart of Scotland orders the lairds of clans MacDonald, Cameron and Mackintosh to end their bloody feud in the Glen of Many Legends with final combat. The clan of the last male survivor will own the Glen; those from the losing two clans will leave. Sister to Laird Alasdair MacDonald, Catriona has struggled to ignore her attraction to Laird James Cameron. He feels like her as he knows he loves Catriona but cannot do anything about his feelings as their clans constantly feud. James meets with Alasdair and Laird Kendrew Mackintosh to discuss how to avoid a bloodbath and not lose the Glen to the monarch. However, none of the lairds are aware that their sisters have plotted a different gender outcome in the battle for who will be the last man standing in the Glen of Many Legends. This is a great opening Highlander medieval romance with a strong lead couple and powerful support characters that will soon star in their own tales. The three pairs of aristocratic siblings are all fully developed with each loving their clan while also possessing a star-crossed love for a leader of one of the other clans. Sub-genre fans will be hooked into a one sitting read of Sins of a Highland Devil while anxiously awaiting the middle tale of what looks like will be one of the best medieval trilogies in years. Harriet Klausner
The perfect Highland romance to use as an escape from boring reality. Sins of a Highland Devil takes romance to a whole new level. Devilishly delightful and intoxicating, the characters come to life and you can't help but be swept away by Sue-Ellen's writing talent. Five stars!
When one clan lays claim to a piece of land there is the devil in trying to keep it in the family. When three clans inherit one piece of property and the only way to determine who winds up with it in the end is a battle to the death, the hounds of hell come calling. But even amongst all the chaos of war and the determination to win there is a man that crosses path with a woman and regardless of how the battle ends these two will change the destiny of so many and that is the present couple as well as the one from the past. They are from opposite sides of the battlefield but when you have your heart beating as one the lines drawn start to blue and the ice that is frozen and keeping you apart starts to crack and thaw good things can happen. This is the case for Lady Catriona a fiery woman who will fight anyone who dare cross her even when that someone is a man she has loved since childhood. James Cameron teased and tormented Catriona and while he no longer pulls her hair he still likes to taunt her with cryptic words, tease with his devilish smile and tempt her with oh so sweet kisses. But James is with part another clan and not sure who will die on the battlefield yet knows he very well might be Catriona's brother and clansmen. The battle is looming and fast approaching but Catriona still craves the feel of James' lips pressed to hers and knows she is breaking all the rules but still chases after him. She clutches her amber necklace for good luck and prays that the shadows she feels are chasing her are mist and fog not the devil himself. There is much trickery going on and allot of the past of caught up in the present but still Catriona fights for her right to be with James and win him and his heart over. There is such passion and intensity in this first book that I can't wait to read the others. Catriona is charming and wildly protective of her brother and clan but James is so strong with his emotions and gushes with testosterone to the point it is coming through the pages of the book. Fabulous!
SINS OF A HIGHLAND DEVIL by Sue-Ellen Welfonder is a delightful historical romance set in 1396 The Glen of Many Legends,Scotland. It is the first in the trilogy "Highland Warriors" series.Which is the story of three proud warriors locked in a struggle of victory and three fearless women united to restore peace to the glen. It is well written with depth,details,history,twists,turns,fast paced, and action packed. It has romance, magic,redemption,love, passion,sensuality,legends,ghost,loyalty,Scottish clans,family, honor, and love. The hero, James, is a Cameron chieftain,handsome,strong, fierce,"The Devil" so some say,leads with ruthless determination,shows no weakness, until he meets the beautiful, headstrong Catriona. The heroine, Catriona, is beautiful, headstrong, secrets,a rival MacDonald,the MacDonald's chieftain's sister,fearless, and has a burning desire for James since childhood. The King declares that the Glen of Many Legends three clans must fight to claim the glen as their own.The MacDonald,Cameron, and the Mackintoshes must "battle to the death" with thirty men each and the last man standing can claim the glen as their own. If they do not fight, they will face banishment from the glen and sent to resettlement in a wilder land.James and Catriona are attracted to each other from the beginning,even through they are from rival clans. This is a wonderful,fast paced story of magic,true love, clans willing to die for their little piece of Heaven and true love will prevail. This is the beginning of a thrilling, heartwarming,exciting story of love,peace and bringing clans together. I would highly recommend this book especially if you enjoy Scottish warriors, their determined,fearless woman and the struggle to victory. This book was received from Pocket Galley Books and details can be found at Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing and My Book Addiction and More.
Sins of a Highland Devil begins the story of three clans, The Camerons, The MacDonalds, and the Mackintoshes, forced by the King to battle for rights to the Glen of Many Legends after the heiress to the land passed leaving no testament of who will inherit. Until this point things have been mostly amicable among the clans. James Cameron, chief of the Cameron clan, finds himself falling for Lady Catriona MacDonald, sister of the chief of the MacDonald clan. The feelings they have intensify, but both know a marriage between them can¿t work because they come from rival clans, and the battle for the land they both call home is looming. This is a fantastic start to a new series. A delightful mix of romance and fantasy. Both the main and secondary characters are well developed, and truly a pleasure to spend time with. The author has an amazingly descriptive style of writing. I was impressed that she wrote the romantic rendezvous and blood drenched battles with equal passion and narrative. I felt as if I was standing among the Highlanders on the Glen of Many Legends. The ghost story that played out over the course of the plot was a nice addition. As far as main characters are concerned, James and Catriona are top notch. Catriona¿s embodies such a large amount of sass and fire. I loved her passion for life. The sexual tension between the two love birds was intense. James was kind without sacrificing the strength and power that goes along with being a Highlander. Such amazing characters! I¿ve also developed a little crush on James¿s cousin Colin. As if I needed another book boyfriend ;) I hope we see more of him as this series continues. This is a series I can¿t wait for more of. I¿d recommend this to fans of historical romance and ill-fated love.
This was a great romance novel,cannot wait to start the sequel. If you are a fan of highland romance novels you will enjoy this book.
I have been in sort of a "historical slump", a slump I thought included highlanders. Oh, boy, was I wrong! As the book opens, the last owner of the Glen has died, leaving descendants in each of the three Clans that live in the Glen. The King has ordered the three Clans to each put up 30 men, who will fight to the last one standing. The victorious clan will own the Glen. Alasdair MacDonald has just received the messenger bearing the news and he is not happy. Catriona, his sister, can't believe her ears - men will needlessly die. They know, however, to defy the King is impossible. James Cameron, The Cameron, is upset that he must fight for what he believes is his. He doesn't want his men's blood spilled in a fight that will be nothing more than entertainment for the Lowlanders, but he knows he cannot go against the Kings wishes. One morning he goes out to seek counsel from his Seers, and he comes across Catriona wandering through his woods. He's attracted to her, but his honor requires that he sees her home to her brother safely. While he is at the MacDonald holding, James discusses some strange incidents with Alasdair. They are in agreement that they do not wish to fight but agree there is no other way. James and Catriona are both captivated by the other, but they know they cannot be together as their clans have been enemies for centuries. They keep running into each other (sometimes on purpose, lol) and lust blooms. Love blooms too although neither will admit it... Sins of a Highland Devil was absolutely enchanting; the characters were delightful to read and I was interested in each of their stories, not just the hero/heroine. Catriona was a willful, fiery-haired heroine, in love with James Cameron but too proud to show it. James Cameron was an honorable clan chief, his want to do the right thing warring against his want to ravish Catriona. We also meet Catriona's brother, Alasdair, who is a very strong secondary character - honorable but with a sense of humor - as well as James' sister, Isobel, and the third Clan chief, Kendrew Mackintosh and his sister, Marjory. James has a second-in-command, Colin, whom I hope we see again somewhere in the next two books :) Sins of a Highland Devil had a bit of magic to it, with Seers and ghosts and a surprising secondary love story. As I read, it felt like I was there, in the Highlands, listening to this wonderful love story, complete with battles and dragons and legends and lore. This is the first of Ms. Wellfonder's Highland Warriors Trilogy, and I cannot wait to read the next two books!