Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kim Redford Shares Her Wonder Woman Collection

First off, I want to claim total and absolute innocence in the hundreds of Wonder Woman items, as well as comics, that made their way into my home over the years. Ha, you don’t believe in my innocence when it comes to Wonder Woman, do you? You might be right, so let me explain while you are looking at some photos of selections from my Wonder Woman collection..

Once upon a time, there was a fun event called the Dallas Fantasy Fair run by my good friend Larry Lankford. The DFF featured books, comics, collectibles, gaming, dealer room, and panels for writers and artists. I sort of accidentally washed up on that shore when invited to pontificate (like I actually knew much about anything, but I’m a writer, so . . .) on panels. Okay, that was all well and good, but everybody there collected something and insisted I must collect something. I’d always been a Wonder Woman (created by William Moulton Marston with artist Harry G. Peter in All Star Comics #8, 1941) fan, so the great WW seemed like a good choice.

And here’s where the innocence comes in. Collectors were horrified that I didn’t have much of a collection (well, I did have a few raggedy Wonder Woman comics), so they immediately began solving my problem. They found WW items at garage sales, flea markets, antique shops, estate sales, con dealer rooms, and who-knows-where, and then presented them to me at DFFs. I never knew what I’d see next because I had no idea there were all these terrific vintage items just waiting for a home—my home. 

About this time I began to feel like a real Wonder Woman collector, so I started amassing backlist titles, along with current ones, and new Wonder Woman action figures. I snagged the complete and fabulous Lynda Carter Wonder Woman television series (1975-1979) that is positively inspirational for all. 

And yet, my WW collection crew and I were greedy. We wanted Wonder Woman up on the big screen in her own live action film. Rumors about the much anticipated WW movie came and went, but they usually went bust. At one point, Josh Whedon stepped in to direct WW, so we were over the moon, thinking of the fine job he’d done with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the television series (1997-2003), and Serenity, the film (2005). But, once more, we were let down when he dropped the project. About the time we were losing hope, here came news that Wonder Woman, the movie, was actually in the works. Could it be true? 

By now, you know the answer to that question. Yes! Well, we went to see Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins (2017), and we just kept pinching ourselves to be sure we were actually viewing WW on the big screen. What can I say? It’d been a long wait, but well worth it—not just for us but for folks around the world. Wonder Woman broke all kinds of opening weekend records, and we weren’t in the least surprised at her big win. She’d won our hearts a long time ago.  

Kim Redford is an acclaimed, bestselling author of Western romance novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at Kim Redford.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What to Watch: Best Banter

What to Watch: Best Banter

One of my favorite parts of any good romance novel (whether it’s written by me or not) is the banter. Give me a sharp hero, a witty heroine, and 380 pages of verbal ping pong, and I’m a happy reader. Even all those gushy love scenes and high adrenaline plots don’t matter as long as there’s a playful bandying of words.

Of course, writing this kind of easy banter is hard work. It usually takes me several passes and lots of painstaking edits before I can achieve the perfect light-hearted note. It also takes research—which, for me, includes hours upon hours of watching movies and television. (I know. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it.)

Some of the best lines of dialogue in pop culture were painstakingly written into the script (I’m looking at you, Gilmore Girls). Others arise from actors improving on the set (a skill I’m hugely envious of but will never master). Either way, I find that watching these movies and shows—oftentimes over and over again—is a great way to learn. If you want to brush up on your own banter skills, or if you’d simply like to enjoy some TV time that will keep you smiling, here are some suggestions.

·       Two Weeks Notice (or literally anything starring Hugh Grant except for Notting Hill because I hated that movie)
·       The Ref
·       Grosse Pointe Blank
·       Ocean’s Eleven (or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang or almost any crime/heist movie, really)
·       Firefly
·       The Princess Bride
·       Party Down
·       It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
·       Philadelphia Story (I guess Philadelphia is pretty hilarious)
·       Archer
·       It Happened One Night
·       Bringing Up Baby
·       The American President
·       Community
·       Iron Man
·       Crazy, Stupid, Love (again, I’m going to go out on a limb and say anything starring Emma Stone…and adding Ryan Gosling into the mix doesn’t hurt)
·       The West Wing
·       Gilmore Girls

I’m sure I’m missing some good ones, but these are the top banter picks that come to my mind. 

…what about you? Are there any must-watch TV shows or movies that you’d add?




Tamara Morgan is the author of thirteen contemporary comedy romances and the new Penelope Blue series. Her books combine fast-paced antics and humor with heartfelt sentiment, and have been described as both “utterly unconventional and wonderfully smart.” Her debut novel was chosen as the Smart Bitches Trashy Books book club pick in April of 2012, and her books have since gone on to receive two starred reviews from Library Journal and three Romantic Times Magazine Top Picks, one of which was nominated in the 2014 RT Reviewers' Choice Awards in the Contemporary Love & Laughter category. 

Visit Tamara online at:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

By Her Touch by Adriana Anders out on Audio Today!

The Audiobook for By Her Touch, starring Wendy Tremont King is out from Tantor Audio today! (I can't stop staring at the cover!)

Title: By Her Touch
Series: Blank Canvas
Author: Adriana Anders
Audio out: June 20, 2017
Buy Now

About By Her Touch:
Clay left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of his time in that hell tattooed across his skin. He figures he doesn't have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle?not now, maybe not ever.

Besides, what woman could possibly want the man he's become?

Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger's pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay's frightening exterior. She thrills at the way he gentles at her touch...and under his rough hands, she burns with a passion she never thought she'd know.

But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, Georgette finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence...that not even her touch may be able to heal.

Praise for By Her Touch:
"Anders has created wonderful variations on the beauty and the beast theme and the damsel-in-distress trope, a greatly tormented hero, and a powerful mix of menace and romance." ―Booklist, Starred Review

"Gripping, emotionally satisfying." - Publishers Weekly

Buy Now


ADRIANA ANDERS has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, emotional love stories of her heart.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Impossible simultaneity: only fun in science fiction

A long time ago in a genre far, far away, I did an all-day intensive story critique/workshop/gauntlet thingy that pruned my confidence to a nub and crammed my aspiring-writer noggin with way more information than I could process at the time. I do not recommend such thingies.

Absolutely okay for Christina Dodd's heroine in
 Castles in the Air to do three manual things at
once because she actually has three arms.
(Kidding. And Christina Dodd is amazing
 and you should read her.)
However, over the years I’ve unpacked all that info in chunks, and you know what? Those instructors really knew their sh…stuff. They taught me that a story with too many “was”es can put a reader to sleep and that eyes aren’t independent, willful organisms for most speciesjackwipe’s eyes didn’t drop to the heroine’s boobage, his gaze did, right? They taught me about the inadvisability of adverbs, the judicial use of similes, the need for a consistent point of view, and a gajillion other low-level craft bits that aren’t necessarily grammatical errors but, when handled badly, can certainly can make it hard for a reader to invest in a world or story.

One of those things was impossible simultaneity.

Now, I don’t meant to spin up a physics topic here or discuss relativity of simultaneity, so if that’s what you’re noodling with in a sci-fi sort of way, please go on about your business (and link me to your story down in the comments, please, because it’s totally up my reader-alley). Rather, what I mean to point out is when sentence structure implies two things are happening at the same time when physically they cannot (or attempting to do so would create a weird visual). For instance:

Shrugging off her coat, she tossed her purse on the table and flicked on the lights.

If nothing about that sentence seems odd, chances are you are in fact writing/reading science fiction and the character most prominently lodged in your brain is a multi-armed alien. I’m cool with that.

What I’m not cool with is a regular two-armed human earthling tugging coat sleeves off her arms whilst one arm is also purse flinging and the other is light switch flipping. No one is that coordinated and how many arms does this person have? Similarly, I can’t figure how these would work:

...he said, taking a sip of his whiskey.

Sliding off her motorcycle, she tugged her skirt down.

Rubbing the weariness from his eyes, he saw... 
The worst part is that I see these kinds of things all the time in books. Maybe they don't get tidied up because they aren’t dangling modifiers, per se. They’re just dangling logic.

Now, I’m not claiming I’ve never committed every vile sin of writing. I have and continue to do so. So, no judgment! However, if you’re writing and want to avoid impossible simultaneity, a quick trick is to search the doc for “ing ” (the extra space after the g trims the search results at little) and click through. An ing-pass on your manuscript may also reveal dangling participles and other potential embarrassments.

If you’re not a writer but read lots and never noticed impossible simultaneity before, I have bad news. You’re probably going to notice it fairly often now.


Sort of. (Except, not really. Misery loves company.)

p.s. – Check out the Turkey City Lexicon for lots and lots of things you never knew writers were doing wrong. (Scroll down to find "Not Simultaneous.") I found the document simultaneously enlightening and horrifying and humiliating and helpful.

Vivien Jackson writes stories with robots, pixies, and down-home salacious kissery. Wanted and Wired, first in her Tether cyberpunk romance series, is available now. Get news and sneak peeks on the web at or sign up for her newsletter to have tidbits delivered right to your email.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Like that Cadaver (by Asa Maria Bradley)

If you've ever hit the Google Translate button to read a website that was published in a non-English language, then you know how crazy the results can be.

When I needed a few Spanish phrases in Viking Warrior Rebel, I first used an online translator. But after running the result through a different translator back to English--and laughing hysterically for a while--I decided I better ask a real person. And even then I did a reverse translation through a second real person. The results were great and I'll rely on my Spanish-speaking friends again, I'm sure.

Lately however, I've had to relate on Google Translate to email with some Russian physics professors. As part of a Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program, they came to visit my college and we communicated through a real-person translator. I've visited Russia twice, but all I managed to pick up in terms of language was how to say "ice cream" and "peace." Not very useful when it comes to talking about science theories. During their visit, I really connected with two of the Russian professors and so we've been emailing each other about cool things to do in the classroom and how to encourage girls to choose science courses.

It's a slow but fun process of trying to parse out what my new friends really meant from the crazy sentence structures I get from Google. And I'm sure my peers over in Saint Petersburg are having some very good laughs when reading the mangled Russian version of my original English messages.

So far though, the results have not been as crazy as what The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon experienced when running song lyrics through Google Translate. Enjoy! :-)

~            ~            ~

Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired her sexy modern-day Viking series. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Booklist attributed her writing with “nonstop action, satisfying romantic encounters, and intriguing world building.” Her debut book, Viking Warrior Rising, was a 2016 double RITA finalist and the follow-up, Viking Warrior Rebel, is a Romantic Times Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee and a Booksellers Best Award finalist. Romantic Times Book Reviews described the book as “filled with action and passion from the first page until the last.”

Subscribe to her newsletter:

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Hi Everyone! I'm very happy to announce that Book #1 of my Men of Legend series -- TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER is only $1.25 on Amazon and $1.99 at B&N and Kobo. The sale only lasts until Monday, June 19, 2017 so hurry before it goes up.

I knew from the moment Sam Legend sauntered onto the page that he was going to be one of largest and unique characters I've ever created. He's bold and tough and will ride through hell in pursuit of an outlaw. Sam doesn't back down from anyone...except the beautiful Sierra Hunt.

In Texas some Legends are born, some are made, and some are created by destiny.

Sam is the youngest of Stoker Legend's three boys and he's helped to scrawl their name across the rugged Texas land.  When Sierra Hunt falls into his lap, he knows he's bitten off far more than he chew.

Gravely injured on the trail of a notorious criminal, Texas Ranger Sam Legend boards a train bound for his family ranch to recuperate…only to find himself locked in battle to save a desperate woman on the run. Determined to rescue the beautiful Sierra, Sam recruits an unlikely ally. But can he trust the mysterious gunslinger to fight at his side?

Sam is shocked to discover his new ally is not only an outlaw, but his half-brother he knew nothing about. Torn between loyalty to his job and love of his family, Sam goes reeling straight into Sierra’s arms. Yet just as the walls around his battered heart begin to crumble, Sierra is stolen away. Sam will risk anything to save her—his life, his badge, his very soul—knowing that some bonds are stronger than the law…and some legends were born to be told.

“Broday’s Westerns always captivate.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“One of the best historical western authors.” —Fresh Fiction

“Poignant, dramatic and packed with action and mystery.” —Addicted to Romance 

The state of Texas has 268,597 square miles so it’s no wonder we have huge ranches. Some are simply too enormous to comprehend. So I had no trouble setting a big ranch here for my latest Men of Legend series. My fictional Lone Star Ranch is a little on the puny side at 480,000 acres. I modeled it to some degree after the Waggoner Ranch which was 510,000 acres in 1954. The Waggoner Ranch also fit the location of mine in North Texas, not far from the Red River.

The largest ranch in the world in 1880 was the XIT Ranch (stands for Ten in Texas) at a whopping three million acres and covered practically all of West Texas and the Panhandle. To put this in perspective, that’s roughly 4,687 square miles. Just think how long it would take to ride over by horseback.

Book #2 of this series - The Heart of a Texas Cowboy came out last month (May 2017.) And Book #3 To Marry a Texas Outlaw - will release this November. 

Here are the links for TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER:


Have you ever been to a working ranch or a dude ranch? If so, what did you most like about it?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

There is Nothing Like a Dog

In my latest book Nothing Like a Duke a dog named Plato plays an integral role. From the first pages, when Plato is rescued by the hero, he makes his presence felt, occasionally steering human characters just where they need to be. In my mind he looks something like this.

I trace my enjoyment of dogs as fictional characters back to a few different sources. I was obsessed with Sherlock Holmes from a young age, reading my omnibus edition over and over. And The Hound of the Baskervilles was one of my favorite installments. The thrill of that famous sentence – “Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” At the same time, I discovered a very different canine in an ancient copy of Lad: A Dog in my childhood home. How I wept over that story! 

TV offered Rin Tin Tin and Lassie – dogs with an uncanny knack for rescue. But I have to say the books were more important for me. As years passed, I found other reading matter that featured dogs. Here are some of my favorites.
There’s no doubt that Nora Roberts likes dogs. I loved The Search, in which the hero and heroine bond over the training of an out-of-control puppy named Jaws. The heroine also trains search and rescue dogs and has three charming dogs of her own. These canines are real characters who affect the suspenseful outcome of the story.
Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series features a miraculous canine, a fit companion for a paranormal detective. Mouse the Tibetan temple dog sometimes has a nimbus of pale blue light. His bark can free people from enchanted sleep, and he seems to possess endurance and healing ability far beyond mortal dogs. He’s not bad with demons either. Woof!
I’m also a fan of Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy mystery series featuring Mary Minor Haristeen, a postmistress, and her menagerie. The animals carry on conversations in these books, often bemoaning the limitations of their human companions. They also have their own hierarchies and rivalries. I love it. Tee Tucker the dog is more of a foil or straight man to the cats here, but he’s still quite charming. Of course I love cat characters, too – but that’s another list.
Finally, there’s Asta in The Thin Man books and movies about Nick and Nora Charles. The terrier made an important contribution to these frothy tales. Sometimes it almost seems he joins in the couple’s signature witty banter. Nora Roberts' In Death series pays homage to Nick and Nora.

In short, for some stories, there’s nothing like a dog to liven things up. Do you have favorite dog characters?

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Isn't It Romantic?

Just back from a weekend getaway with my husband to New York City. We stayed at the Algonquin, my favorite New York hotel, saw a few shows, had some great meals, and good times. And this happened...
Bryant Park!
Kinky Boots
Groundhog Day
We stopped into the St. Regis for a drink because it was very hot and sunny on Fifth Avenue when we were on the window shopping portion of our trip (window shopping is much more affordable than actual shopping, and almost as fun). There we were, in the famous Old King Cole bar sipping our fancy drinks, sharing laughs, and my husband gave me that look. The look of love?

Great art (Maxfield Parrish), creepy kids. 
I thought so. We've been married for going on 27 years. You would think I know the look. Sure, we're older. Sometimes the look is more just "thank goodness we don't have to try so hard." But this? This was an actual look. I felt all tingly. Maybe we should head back to our hotel? 

And he turned to me and said the words no woman ever expects to hear. "Honey, that chair you're in? I think it's exactly where Anne Hathaway was standing in that scene from The Devil Wears Prada."

Ohhh. His look was not awe for me and all the years we shared. It was awe to be in the bar featured in one of his favorite movies, thanks to one of his favorite actors (Anne Hathaway). I had no idea. Did not recognize the place. Vaguely remembered the scene. It might have been a disappointing moment, but I bounced back. 

"And that means Simon Baker sat right where you are." Ha!

After that, we had a fabulous dinner and I forgave him. The man likes a good chick flick. How could I not love him? 

Does your Significant Other still manage to surprise you? What's your favorite big city? 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Waterfalls I Have Loved

I live in the North Carolina mountains, and we have a ton of waterfalls. One of my favorite things to do when I have time away from my day job is to go for a walk and see some of them. There is one in my backyard which is especially beautiful and soothing to me,

Brightwater Falls, now also called Turley Falls, is a gentle companion throughout the winter months when the greenery falls back and the fallen leaves and bare trees leave a clear view of its beauty. But I can hear this waterfall all year round from the peaceful spot of my back porch.

Another favorite of mine is Looking Glass falls. The first waterfall I visited when I first came to the area, Looking Glass is right off the highway as you head up Mt. Pisgah in Pisgah National Forest, so it is very accessible. Some people go swimming at the foot of these falls in the summer months, but I love just sitting at the foot of the falls and listening to the water.

What's your favorite place to take a walk on a summer day?

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in western North Carolina.

Friday, June 9, 2017

For a limited time, Bite Me, Your Grace is $1.99

Awesome news! My publisher is doing another Scandals With Bite promo. Now BITE ME, YOUR GRACE is on sale for $1.99! It's been two years since they've put any of these on sale, so you'll want to get these while you can.

I wrote Bite Me, Your Grace shortly after my mom passed away. It was a departure from my usual darker stuff, but still has a touch of cheerful macabre. The title was meant to be a joke, but it stuck. I pitched it as "Whitney, My Love" with fangs.

Here's the blurb:

First in a witty, sexy paranormal Regency romance series, England's "vampire craze" is causing much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop, who has hidden plans of her own.
Dr. John Polidori's tale "The Vampyre" burst upon the Regency scene along with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein after that notorious weekend spent writing ghost stories with Lord Byron. A vampire craze broke out instantly in the haut ton.
Now Ian Ashton, the Lord Vampire of London, has to attend tedious balls, linger in front of mirrors, and eat lots of garlic in an attempt to quell the gossip. If that weren't annoying enough, his neighbor, Angelica Winthrop, has literary aspirations of her own and is sneaking into his house at night just to see what she can find.
Hungry, tired, and fed up, Ian is in no mood to humor his beautiful intruder...
I hope you'll check it out and enjoy my regency vamps! 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley is out now!

A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley is out now!

Welcome to Two-Time Texas:
Where tempers burn hot
Love runs deep
And a single woman can change the course of history:
There’s a new sheriff in town.

Amanda Lockwood gets more than she bargained for when she’s elected Two-Time Texas’s first female sheriff. Anxious to prove herself, she sets out to stop crime in its tracks—taking down wanted man Rick Barrett in the process. But there’s something special about the charming outlaw. Common sense says he must be guilty…but her heart keeps telling her otherwise.

So what’s a sheriff to do? Gather an all-female posse and ride to save the day.

Things sure don’t look good for Rick. If he doesn’t convince the pretty sheriff to let him go, he’ll soon be pushing up daisies. But his plan to woo her to his side backfires when he’s the one who falls head over heels. Now he must choose between freedom or saving the woman he loves…and the clock is ticking.

Who knew A Match Made in Texas could be such sweet, clean, madcap fun?

Enjoy this excerpt from A Match Made in Texas!

Could she trust him? Dare she trust him?

The man—a stranger—looked like one tough hombre. Perched upon the seat of a weather-beaten wagon, he sat tall, lean and decisively strong, his sunbaked hands the color of tanned leather. The only feature visible beneath his wide-brimmed hat and shaggy beard was a well-defined nose. The beard along with his shoulder-length hair suggested he had no regard for barbers. From the looks of him, he wasn’t all that fond of bathhouses either.

 “Need a ride?” the stranger asked, looking down at her with open curiosity.

She hesitated. It wasn’t as if she had a lot of choices. If she didn’t accept his offer, she might have to spend the rest of the day and maybe even the night alone in the Texas wilderness with the rattlers, cactus and God knows what else.

“Where you headin’?” he asked.

This time she answered. “Two-Time.”

“Same here,” he said with a gruff nod, as if that alone was reason to trust him.

His destination should have offered no surprise. Two-Time was the only town within twenty miles. Still… “Why there?” she asked.

Her hometown had grown in leaps and bounds since the arrival of the train, but still lagged behind San Antonio and Austin in commerce and population. Most people, if they ended up in Two-Time at all, did so by mistake.

He shrugged his wide shoulders. “Good a place as any.”

Moistening her parched lips, she shaded her eyes from the blazing sun as she gazed up at him. No sense beating around the bush. “You don’t have a nefarious intent, do you? To do me harm, I mean?” A woman alone couldn’t be too careful.

The question seemed to surprise him. At least it made him push back his hat, revealing steel blue eyes that seemed to pierce right through her. What a strange sight she must look. Stuck in the middle of nowhere dressed to the nines in a stylish blue walking suit.

“Are you’re askin’ if your virtue is safe with me?”

She blushed, but refused to back down. The man didn’t mince words and neither would she. “Well, is it?”

“Safe as you want it to be,” he said finally. His lazy drawl didn’t seem to go with the sharp-eyed regard, which returned again and again to her peacock feathered hat, rising three stories and a basement high above her brow.

It wasn’t exactly the answer she’d hoped for, but he sounded sincere and that gave her a small measure of comfort. Still, she cast a wary eye on his holstered weapon. The Indian Wars had ended, but the possibility of renegades was real. The area also teemed with outlaws. In that sense, it wouldn’t hurt to have an armed man by her side. Even one as surly as this one.

Snag your copy of A Match Made in Texas today!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Highland Hellion by Mary Wine is out now!

Highland Hellion by Mary Wine is out now!

Illegitimate daughter of an English earl
Abducted to Scotland at age 14
No family, no reputation...
No rules

Heir to an honorable Highland laird
Can't believe how well tomboy Kate can fight
About to learn how much of a woman she really is

Scotland is seething with plots, the vengeful Gordons are spoiling for a fight, and the neighboring clans are at each other's throats. All it takes is a passionate hellion with a penchant for reckless adventure to ignite the Highlands once more.

Enjoy this excerpt from Highland Hellion!

“Katherine Carew.”

The great hall of MacPherson castle went quiet as Shamus MacPherson spoke her name. The laird of the clan was old now, but at times, his voice still rang with authority.
Tonight was one of those nights.

His retainers turned to consider her as she hesitated with one leg over a bench and her supper still in her hands. One of the women who was serving the long tables that filled the hall reached over and took it away from her.

Katherine pulled her leg back and lowered herself.

“Ye’ll join me,” Shamus informed her.

One of his men went toward the end of the high table and pulled a chair out for her. It was a position of honor, one reserved for members of the laird’s family and his captains. Everyone seemed to be watching her, so she started moving toward the head table, though it felt as if each of her boots suddenly weighed as much as a young colt.

She stopped and lowered herself once more before she climbed the steps to where the high table sat. The chair was large and furnished with a pillow, and the retainer pushed her toward the table once she’d sat down.

“It has been some years since Katherine came to this castle.” Shamus spoke clearly, and his men gave him their attention. “So tonight, I want to take a moment to remind everyone that she is considered me son Marcus’s sister. The Earl of Morton, the king’s regent, wanted an alliance with me family, and we will honor his wishes.”

There was a long moment of contemplation from the men and women of the clan. Many of the men stroked their beards while their eyes narrowed in thought. But the laird’s word was law, and in the end, his men nodded to him before they turned back to their supper.

“Ye may stay with the hawks, so long as ye keep to wearing a dress,” Marcus said softly beside her. “And ye will sit beside me at meals so no one forgets yer place.”

She nodded, but Marcus turned and his eyes narrowed.

“So that pleases ye?” he asked.

Marcus was suspicious by nature. A trait that served him well as war chief to the clan. Katherine had been frightened of him for most of her first year in the Highlands, but after that, when it seemed he wouldn’t keep her from training, she’d decided it was part of his charm.

“Aye,” she answered him. “It pleases me far more than turning bread.”

“Ye would no’ have been a maid,” Marcus explained.

“Helen was clear on that matter.” Katherine stiffened as she knocked elbows with a maid who was leaning in from behind her to serve her. Marcus chuckled softly.

“It takes a bit of getting accustomed to,” he muttered once the maid was finished. “Being served, that is.”

It seemed she’d also have to learn how to eat while being watched. Katherine snapped her mouth shut as she realized there were plenty of people looking directly at her. She lifted a linen napkin from where it was laid over her right shoulder and made sure her lips were clean. After that, she took only small bites to ensure she wasn’t chewing with her mouth open.

Marcus made a sound under his breath. “Helen asked me how one managed to eat at the high table when she first wed me.” He sent Katherine an amused look. “I told her, very carefully, or ye’ll be used as a teaching example by MacPherson mothers.”

“No thank you,” Katherine answered. She was strained, so her English accent was more pronounced.

“I knew.”

Marcus had spoken so softly that she had to think for a moment to make sure she’d heard him correctly. He cut her a look.

“I knew ye were there, lass. In the yard.”

He watched his words land, taking note of the smile that lifted the corners of her lips. He scoffed before reaching for a round of bread. He tore it and placed a piece on her plate.

“Pleases ye, does it?”

“You are not a man who gives out false flattery, so yes.” Katherine reached for the bread, forcing herself to handle it more daintily. “I consider it a compliment earned.”

“Fair enough,” Marcus responded. “Mind me, Katherine. On the matters of yer dress and this table. I would make certain ye are afforded protection.”

“From my blood, you mean?”

Marcus looked back at her, and this time she saw the frank, bluntly honest man who had trained her. This was the war chief of the clan. “Ye’ve heard with your own ears the way the men speak of the English. I allowed ye to train because I can no’ be changing the fact that many men will visits the sins of yer countrymen upon ye. Yet Robert is correct: ye are a woman grown now. So, ye’ll sit beside me so every man here understands I consider ye me family.”

She nodded and went back to her supper. Marcus got caught up in a conversation with his brother, Bhaic, so she was left to contemplate his words.

Being on the outside was something she understood well. It had been her life; Scotland was no different. So she would celebrate her victory in escaping the kitchens.

A wicked little thought moved through her as she contemplated just how much easier it would be to ride out at night now that she didn’t serve directly under Helen. The master of the hawks was an old man who had plenty of younger apprentices to do the work for him. He took to drinking before the sun set and slept soundly until after dawn.

Yes, a victory. That’s what it was indeed.

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