I read and finished Hot Highlanders and Wild Warriors way faster than I wanted to. It left me both satisfied and hungry for more and has earned a one way pass to my keeper shelf. I loved every story, every culture portrayed, the incredibly hot sex scenes, and how powerfully vivid and well researched each story appeared on the page. Rich in the historical tidbits I wish I’d been taught in school, written like the forbidden romance novels I used to read under my high school desk. It’s emotional candy to keep a reader warm now that the weather is getting cold.
MY LOVELIEST VISION
by Renee Luke
“If you have not a word to say, you have no business here.” She lifted her cane and pointed it to her left, aiming it toward the garden gate. “Go!”
“I will not.”
His voice was low. Rough. Determined. And there was something in his tone that teased her senses like a pastry long since tasted teased her palate. Had she heard his voice before or was it panic playing tricks with her memories? She wasn’t sure, but he had spoken only three words. However, Lena knew to her core she was in trouble. Fear took hold again, edging away the bits of annoyance as she rifled her memories, trying to summon one that matched his voice.
She remained steady, facing forward to where the man stood, fighting the gnawing trepidation and the need to call out for the few remaining of her father’s men. They’d not get to her in time, she knew, if this man, the invader, sought to do her harm. She’d be dead by his hand before help would arrive.
“If you shall not leave, state your purpose here. My father cannot be disturbed at the moment.” Lena squeezed her lids closed, feeling the burn of tears. Tears she could not allow to fall. She pushed down the tightness in her throat. This man was different, his presence in her garden more of an incursion than any before. Her voice broke as she opened her eyes. “Milord, there is naught for you here.”
“Your father is dead. And, you…”
The leaves rattled, and the earth trembled beneath her feet.
“You are mine.”
In a heartbeat he was upon her. Overpowering in presence as the air was crushed between them. She fought the need to step back, to gain distance from this intruder. But it was too late. He was large, she could tell by how his shoulders blocked the warmth of the sun, replaced instead by his heat and the heady scene of man: leather, lye, sweat and sunshine. And again, of exotic sandalwood.
Strong fingers embraced her wrist. She startled at his touch, sucking in a gasp between her lips. His touch was warm, calloused, but so unexpectedly gentle she didn’t pull away. For a moment fear was overrun by the enthralling heat of him. The intoxicating male scent. She stood allowing him to touch her skin. Almost enjoying the way it made heat spread through her.
He cleared his throat, stepping closer, and her hand brushed against the material of his tunic. He was firm beneath, flesh forged of steel. Heat increased as it flowed through her.
His breath danced below her ear. “Milady, I shall not force myself upon you, but know this; you are already mine for the taking.”
Reality crushed her, and trepidation followed fear down her spine. She twisted her hand attempting to free herself from his hold and yet hesitated to sever the contact. His grasp was unbreakable. “My father will not stand…”
“Lena, your father is dead,” he said, his voice soft and firm, “and had he not been, he’d still not halt my claim of you.” He released his hold on her.
She could hear the sound of worn leather as he fumbled with his belt. And then he was touching her again, taking her hand in his. With her palm up, he first ran the rough pad of his thumb across her flesh, causing her to quiver, then replaced his thumb with a scroll of parchment.
Lena turned her face to the sky while she steadied her breathing. Attempted to slow her fitful pulse. Her stomach churned with fear and something unfamiliar that pooled dew upon her tender lips and caused her inner thighs to go slick.
The parchment meant something. Biting down on her tongue, she remained silent, already resigned. Closing her eyes, she lowered her face. “You have no claim on my holdings,” she said, her voice less firm than it had been before. “No claim to me.”
He chuckled. “You are wrong, milady, but you needn’t believe my words.” He curled the hand which held hers, forcing her fingers to tighten around the scroll. “You may read the truth in your father’s words.”
She shrugged free of his hold, then spun away so her back absorbed his heat. Could it be…? She dropped her cane and touched both hands to the scroll, finding the wax seal with her fingertips. Could it be? Memories came rushing upon her all at once. “Seth…” she whispered, carefully tracing her father’s signet ring that had so long ago been pressed into wax.
“Tis I, milady.”