Susan here, delighted to introduce you to two of my dearest fictional friends—Sophie and Kate, MacCarran sisters who each get into a patch of trouble, run smack into unexpected adventure, and are surprised by love in the Highlands when Sophie meets a Highland outlaw and Kate encounters an officer of the Black Watch.
Stealing Sophie and Keeping Kate, my most recent ebook releases, are Books I and II in my “Highland Dreamers” series. These “author’s cut” editions were originally written as Sarah Gabriel—and I had fun giving each book a bit of a makeover and an update, editing, tightening, and adding some new material.
Right now they are a real steal–the ebooks are specially priced at .99 each for just a little while! It was a thrill recently when they climbed the historical romance and Highland romance lists at Amazon, where Sophie hit #1 and stuck for a while!
"A witty and charming book and a fun read, romantic and very Scottish!" said one Amazon reviewer of Stealing Sophie. "Beautifully written, with interesting characters and rich historical detail," wrote another reader.
I absolutely love the gorgeous new covers designed by the talented Kim Killion of The Killion Group. What a treat to see how beautifully the covers represent the stories—Sophie, stubborn and proud, is not about to let anyone steal her away, especially a Highland rogue like Connor MacPherson, who is trying to fulfill a promise to her brother. And Kate, defiant and independent, faces off with Captain Alec Fraser, the Highland officer ordered to bring the beautiful Jacobite spy to justice.
Both stories are set in 18th century Scotland at a time when pockets of rebellion held fast in Scotland as English troops made deeper inroads into the Highlands, imposing English laws and authority on resistant Highlanders. I wanted these stories and characters to reflect the stubbornness, pride, and conflicts of that time, while bringing romance and hope and a little touch of magic to the mix.
Did I mention that Sophie and Kate each have a natural gift inherited from a long-ago fairy ancestor? They are part of the MacCarran family tree, where magical abilities are passed from branch to branch. I visited that same tree in my Whisky Lairds series too, including Laird of Twilight and Laird of Secrets, both set in late Regency Scotland.
I hope you’ll look for the books to find out how these fairy gifts bring plenty of trouble and ultimately romance to my Highland MacCarrans! (photo: a shot of misty Highland hills taken by my d-i-l.)
Here’s a sneak peek at Stealing Sophie and Keeping Kate . . .
Stolen away and wedded against her will, Sophie MacCarran is held captive in a Highland lair of Jacobite rebels. Nothing in her convent upbringing prepared her for this, and she looks for an escape. Discovering her best weapon is her saintly nature, she soon makes Connor MacPherson’s life hell by creating heaven around him, gambling that her sweet feminine influence in his den of thieves will soon make him send her packing. Yet Connor secretly yearns to leave the brigand life behind and claim his lost title and home—and soon he and Sophie are both surrendering their hearts long before their stubborn natures will give in …
Under cover of night and mist, while the soldiers in her escort still stumbled and fell on the ruined bridge, Sophie saw a man appear through the fog and take her horse by the bridle to lead her away. A Highlander. A local farmer, perhaps, seeing the trouble on the moor, the attack on the bridge by rebels, taking her to safety.
“Thank you. My companions may need help too, if you will, sir.”
But the Highlander ran, drawing her horse into the fog and away from her escort. Alarmed, Sophie pulled on the reins. Her horse sidestepped, torn between the man’s command to move forward and the woman’s signal to hold back.
“Let go!” Sophie called out to the man. “Stop!”
Not even a backward look. Only a fist wrapped around the bridle, broad shoulders draped in plaid, a dark head turned away. Silently, steadily, he went forward.
She saw the gleam of weapons in his belt. Dirk and pistol. A brigand.
Dear Lord. Returning to Scotland only days ago, she had already heard tales of outlaws in the Highland hills, some renegade Jacobites, others lawless men. Keep clear of the glen at night, she had heard.
But she had felt safe in the company of her Highland cousins and the soldiers assigned by Campbell, the magistrate. She was anxious to reach her brother’s castle—and eager to avoid Campbell’s company. She had returned to Scotland to keep her agreement to marry the magistrate although she despised him. And now Campbell’s dire warning about brigands was proving true.
The Highlander at the bridle was a scoundrel and no helpful local, and he was leading her deep into the mist and the unknown. Heart slamming, Sophie leaned back, but the horse obeyed the man. She screamed, the sound thin in the fog. The infernal man ignored it. She glanced back wildly, tempted to jump from the saddle.
“Turn back,” she called. “Let me go!” She managed a sundering scream.
The Highlander whirled, set his foot to the stirrup, vaulted into the saddle behind her. He moved so fast she had no chance to leap free. He snatched the reins and pinned her against him, plunging them forward into the darkness.
Twisting, Sophie could not get free, her cloak caught beneath the stranger, his powerful legs tight against her. His arms captured her, unrelenting yet warm and supporting, strange comfort in the chill night air. As he urged the horse to a gallop, Sophie freed an arm just enough to elbow him.
“Be still,” he said, his voice firm, deep. “You will come with me.” The mellow sound was surprisingly calming. She tried to shrug him off but his iron-hard arm pulled her tighter. He loosened his fingers from her mouth. “Can you breathe?”
“You stole me away,” she gasped, “attacked my escort. Why?”
“Breathing fine, I see."
“Please, we must help the others—we cannot leave."
“I came for you, lass. Not them.” His breath warmed her cheek. He held her against him. Instead of panic, she felt eerily calm. His presence soothed rather than frightened, though he had snatched her like a thief.
"Do not touch me,” she snapped.
He let go so abruptly that Sophie tilted sideways, grabbing his arm to keep from falling. Her captor righted her; she was sheepishly glad of his strength.
“Where are we going? Why did you take me?” she asked. “How do you know the others are not hurt? What of the men? You broke the bridge—why? What do you want with me?”
“So many questions,” he said, and answered none.
She drew breath again, but a length of plaid descended over her head, swathing her in blackness. His arm encircled her again. The wool rasping her cheek smelled like smoke, pine, and man. Struggling, she felt the man’s chest support her back, his legs trapping hers.
“Be still, now,” he murmured. “All will be well. I promise.”
She rode in stiff silence, tears pricking her eyes. Anger stirred hot within her as she tried to think, sought the courage to rescue herself. Fuming under the plaid, she remembered the Jacobite renegade her Highland cousins spoke of who stole cattle, attacked English soldiers, sabotaged the stone roads the troops were building locally. A beast of a man, they said. A savage. She shuddered, wishing she had not ventured out this night. Why would such a man snatch her? She had nothing to offer, sister of a penniless clan chief. She could not think of a reason—
Then thought of one, and found air and strength to scream, muffled under the plaid.
His hand closed over her mouth, wool and heat against her lips.
“Hush now, Miss MacCarran,” he said at her ear.
He knew her name. Her head spun. She felt as if she hurtled through thunderclouds, riding in the arms of a demon with no sure ground beneath her, and hell awaiting her.
When Captain Alec Fraser, a Scottish-born soldier in the English army, captures an elusive, infamous, beautiful Scottish spy, he must transport the notorious Katie Hell to Edinburgh and justice. Yet while Kate MacCarran does all she can to make the journey troublesome, Alec is determined—until a common enemy unites their opposing missions, and the extraordinary power of love brings them together in ways neither Alec nor Kate had dreamed possible . . .
An Excerpt from Keeping Kate:
Scottish Highlands, 1728
Alec Fraser shut the door of the bed chamber, turning to see his troublesome Highland captive. He could not call her prisoner, though he had arrested her and was doing his utmost to bring her to justice as soon as possible. At the moment she was calmly folding the gown his friend had given the girl to replace her ruined things. Kate MacCarran glanced at him warily.
"What now, Captain Fraser?” she asked.
“You could put on that gown now, so we can leave and continue south.”
“I will wear the gown–and show you the back of me as I leave this room and you altogether.”
“Always bargaining. They say Katie Hell has some fairy magic. Will you try to escape these again?” Alec bent to pick up the canvas satchel, and lifted the irons from it in a heavy, clanking mass. He was reluctant to use restraints, but keeping the girl in custody along Highland roads so far had proved a true challenge.
She took a backward step. “No—not that.” She edged toward the door, slipping a hand behind her to grasp the handle. In one stride, Alec was there, wedging his foot against the door to keep it shut, the chains dangling in his hand. “I cannot bear to be shackled again,” she said.
“I understand. But I have no assurance that you will stay here without them.”
“I would rather stay with you than be caught by Colonel Grant’s men.” She watched him frankly. Alec saw a spark there, felt his body answer, spinning, surging. “Trust me.”
“Trust Katie Hell?” He nearly laughed. “I am not as easily beguiled as you think.” He leaned close—too close, his body keenly aware of her.
“Leave off the chains and I will stay.” Her glance, eyes silver-bright, was steady. “I promise."
His breath stirred her hair. She tilted her head, closed her eyes. Waited, as did he.
The girl’s natural allure was compelling, potent, and each day so far he had resisted it. Yet he felt pulled toward her once again. She was not even aware of her effect, he realized; she stood watching him without guile or suggestion, innocent in this at least, while exuding the wild, natural magic that was wholly hers. Again he tried his damnedest to withstand it.
“Promise if you will, Kate, but I must secure it.” He clenched his hand, the chains clanking. He did not want to use them.
She tilted her head. “I can prove my word.”
He waited. She tipped her face a little, inviting him. Since he had first apprehended her, she had insisted on her innocence despite the rumors, and insisted too that she was no wanton. He believed her, respected that. Yet now his heart thundered.
She leaned closer, breath soft, nudged. Her lips touched his tenderly. The kiss was not what he expected—it was sweet, vulnerable, and poignant somehow. He sensed loneliness too, which surprised him.
The realization wrenched his heart. He did not use women, and was careful with vulnerable souls. But this lass turned him about like a top—one minute to the next, he did not know what to think. While he hesitated, she slipped an arm around his neck, renewed the kiss with a melting touch that sank through him. Then she too drew away.
“I promise,” she said, looking earnestly into his eyes. “Will you trust me?”
Alec sighed, wondering just how to answer that.
I hope you'll check out my Highland Dreamers series soon — right now, the books are just .99 each!
Do you often read Highland romance — and have you been to Scotland? I've been there five times now, and would go back again in a flash if given the chance.