love dropping people into the
backdrop of history—the
more tumultuous the period, the
better. And after seeing the
movie Braveheart, I was utterly
captivated with that period of
Scotland's history when William
Wallace and Robert the Bruce
were fighting against England
for Scotland's history, and the
Scots were fighting among themselves
for the throne of Scotland ...
I knew I had to set a book during
those turbulent times, and A
PROMISE GIVEN is
Hero Ian MacGregor's
home in the book, Castle MacGregor,
is based on a photo my husband
bought for me (he went to an
art fair by himself, so I could
have time to write-wasn't that
sweet?) It's a picture of a brooding
castle, with a wisp of fog curling
around a high stone tower, with
a misty mountain rearing in the
background. I had it framed and
hung it on the wall in front
of my desk, and it still gives
me shivers every time I look
But, even better,
while I was writing this book,
we took our first visit to Scotland,
where I got to visit even more brooding
Scottish castles. The visit also
inspired me to write two more
books set in Scotland, HIS
WICKED WAYS and HIS
title was HIGHLAND BRIDE.
PROMISE GIVEN was
a Waldenbooks bestseller
Scotland, Late 1200s
his horse forward through the
forest. The rich, pungent scent
of trees and damp earth filled
of a sudden splash snared his
attention. Curious, he followed
the sound toward its sourcea
small, sparkling pond hidden
beneath a leafy green bower.
came again. What he saw brought
him up short. Now here was a
woman ... aye, and one who could
turn many a man's headand
no doubt had! She walked to a
rocky ledge, her body naked in
all its splendor, angled slightly
away from him. Her hair was a
dark, wet rope twined over one
shoulder; it hung well past her
grew dry. Why, she might have
been a wood nymph sprung from
some secret glade solely to pleasure
his eyesand his senses.
Indeed, he'd much rather gaze
on this sweetly formed lass than
dwell on the troublesome little
sprite who had so tormented his
his gaze never leaving her. She
was small in stature, yet unusually
beguiling. Her skin gleamed with
the luster of a pearl. Her breasts
were surprisingly full, tipped
by rose-hued nipples that peaked
hard and tight from the coolness
of the water. Below the narrow
indentation of her waist, her
hips flared in sweet enticement.
She raised one hand to her hair,
sweeping back an errant lock
and displaying the generous curve
of one full breast before diving
cleanly into the water. She broke
the surface with a tiny splash,
then swam toward the shore. Rivers
of water sluiced from her body
as her feet found purchase. She
moved forward, coming closer
to where he now crouched at the
base of a stout oak.
was male within him surged to
the fore. Bold gray eyes roamed
avid and hot, for she had yet
to glean his presence. His mind
consumed by blatantly erotic
fancies, he longed to attach
a face, for the profile she presented
foretold a beauty exquisite,
a sweetness and youth he could
only imagine. All he sought was
but a glimpse. Ah, if she would
only turn her head...
shaking the water from her hair,
her eyes squeezed shut.
was small and oval. Her mouth
was damp and dewy, the exact
shade of pink as her nipples.
The arch of slanted brows lent
her a look that was almost elfish.
An odd feeling knotted his belly,
for she seemed almost familiar.
lashes lifted. Suddenly he felt
he'd been struck in the chest
with the butt of a lance. He
stared into eyes as misty green
hills of Dunlevy.
balked. Nay, he thought numbly.
It could not be ...
locked endlessly. For one horrified
moment, neither could move, nor
she who broke the spell, and
it appeared she had no such lapse
where his identity was concerned.
She scrambled backward, dropping
to her bottom as soon as the
water reached her thighs. Swiftly
she dragged her knees to her
chest and scowled at him.
did she realize she still afforded
him a most tantalizing view.
rogue!" she sputtered. "What
the devil do you think you're
his hands wide, feigning affront. "What!
I but enjoy the beauty of the
day. And indeed" he
gave an exaggerated leer "there's
much to be seen."
her. He could tell by the way
her eyes flew wide.
He sighed. "I
know you, lass," he remarked
mildly. "You're angry."
shock had begun to wane. If her
glare could have blistered, he
would be naught but a pile of
course I'm angry! You were spying
a slight inclination of his head. "Why,
thank you, madam. I'm pleased
to note I did not frighten you."
loose with a scathing denunciation
that left no doubt as to her
opinion of him. Ian paid no heed.
Boldly he strode forward. Bending
low, he scooped her clothes from
the bank and flung them over
ceased mid-stream. "Ian!
Wh-what are you doing?" She
lurched forward, only to remember
her state of undress. She plopped
back down in the water.
lingered on the bareness of her
shoulders. Remembering himself,
he gave a low, gallant bow. "I
but return the favor from so
many years ago."
turned the color of the dawn.
He continued. "Surely
you've not forgotten the time
you watched me running
naked from the stream, searching
all about for my clothes."
was but a whisper. "You-you
a robust laugh. "I knew,
lass, though I was far less amused
then than I am now. But I've
often wondered ... did you like
what you saw?"
flashed. "As I recall, there
was little to see," she
even more gustily. "No doubt
you're right," he agreed
good-naturedly. "I was but
a lada bony one, at that.
And coming from a cold stream
as it were, no doubt that which
you sought to see was but a shriveled
regard dropped to her breasts,
hidden behind the shield of her
arms. "But you, Sabrina," he
said softly, "ah, lass,
you've grown a bounty I'd not
you are still as insolent as
you, I see, are still the bonny
his arms over his chest. "You'd
best come out. Your lips are
turning blue. I will act as your
opened, then closed. "You
will not!" she managed at
his legs wide apart and raised
a contest of wills. He meant
it to be a joke, to tease her,
but her regard flamed hotter
than a blazing sun in the desert.
are a jackass!"
his head. "Indeed."
wretched beast. The most loathsome
creature ever to walk this land"
no objection to waiting all night,
if need be." His tone was
smooth as oil.
silent. The minutes dragged,
one into another. Her teeth began
to chatter. Ian was faintly irritated
at her stubbornness when at last
through his mind to refuse, for
her tone was no less than a demand.
One dark brow came up. But she
must have gleaned his intent,
for she made a faint choked sound.
blinked, those brilliant green
eyes suspiciously bright.
Tears? From the bonny bratling?
He scoffed. Nay, not Sabrina.
the long, ragged breath she drew
a moment." His tone was
gruff. Abruptly he turned his
back. Yet some devil had seized
hold of him, for he did not leave,
nor did he remove her clothes
from his shoulder. Instead he
remained where he was.
him, water splashed.
feel her directly behind him.
Her linen chemise was snatched
from his shoulder as if she feared
he would turn at any instant.
And indeed, he was temptedmightily
tempted. Deep within him, he
was startled by that temptation.
Yet another part of him was appalled.
Oh, he could not deny he enjoyed
a beauteous face and form as
much as the next man. But this
was Sabrina, his bonny bratling
right. I'm finished." Her
voice was slightly breathless.
only to behold a stare as frigid
as the lochs of the Highlands.
So this is how it would be, eh?
he thought. She was still as
feisty as ever.
whistled to his horse, who was
lazily grazing on lush green
grass. He gestured grandly as
the animal trotted up. "Shall
we be off?"
tipped high. "I cannot return
in her eye grated. "And
not be proper," she informed
And when were you ever proper,
obvious where I've been! What
would everyone think? If they
knew you'd come upon me n" All
at once she stopped.
was utterly wicked. "Naked?" he
snapped shut. "You must
go first," was all she would
a callused fingertip down her
nose. She looked as if she'd
like to bite it off. "I
suppose you're right, lass." But
he would have the last word after
all, by God. He allowed his gaze
to wander, a blatantly thorough
inspection of her form, lingering
with flagrant interest on her
help it. The merest hint of a
smile tugged at his lips. He
had but one thought. Foolishly,
he'd somehow thought of Sabrina
as still a child. Oh, but he'd
been wrong, for there was a differencea
vast difference. Aye, there was
grace where before there had
been only a gangly clumsiness.
A supple ripeness where before
had been breasts as flat as a
must say, lass," he drawled. "You've
changed. And quite delightfully
flamed. "Blast you ... you
... you vile Highland wretch!"
as he swung up into the saddle.
still sputtering and cursing
as he rode off into the forest.
back his head and laughed again.
Now this was the Sabrina he knew.
He felt a lightness of spirit
he'd not felt in ages. God, but
it was good to be back.
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