Highlander’s Wicked Game (Preview)

Chapter One

Duncan MacGregor stood at the water’s edge and stared out across the blue-grey expanse toward the Isle of Jura. His cousin, Lachlan, stood beside him and spat on the ground in disgust. “Clan MacDonald,” Lachlan bit out, his tone full of hatred. The two cousins had been taught from an early age to hate the MacDonalds of Jura. Duncan’s father had had a falling out with the Jura laird at the battle of Dunkeld, and amends had never been made. The MacGregor laird had ensured that the feud would continue long after he was gone by passing his hatred on to the next generation.

“Aye, but their lands have the best deer in the islands,” Duncan noted. He longed to cross the water for a good hunt.

“Ye spend tae much o’ yer time huntin’ and nae enough trainin’ with me,” Lachlan chastised. “Ye were meant tae be a warrior for yer clan nae a hunter. Leave huntin’ tae the auld men. The blood o’ our enemies cries out tae be spilled.”

“We are forced tae bear the name o’ the Clan Campbell who are our enemies. Are we tae shed our own blood as well?” Duncan asked, attempting to curb his cousin’s bloodlust.

The MacGregor name had been outlawed by King James I of England and King James the VI of Scotland on pain of death, in retaliation for a battle with the Clan Colquhoun wherein one-hundred forty Colquhouns were killed. The law stated that, ‘… the name of McGregor should be altogether abolished, and that (all) persons of that Clan should renounce their name and take some other name, and that they nor none of their posterity should call themselves Gregor or McGregor thereafter, under the pain of death.’ Any MacGregor who wished to live had been forced to take the names of other clans. Duncan’s family had taken the name Campbell, a fierce powerful clan, but they had kept the truth of their surname alive amongst themselves.

Lachlan spat in disgust once more. “I would just as soon slit my own throat as bear the name Campbell were it not for the laird demanding it o’ me.”

“There are many men that would gladly slit it for ye, MacGregor or nae,” Duncan chuckled. His cousin had fought with many a man and had boasted of his successes to anyone who would listen. Lachlan believed himself to be the fiercest warrior in all of Scotland.

“I will defeat them all at the gatherin’,” Lachlan boasted, puffing his chest out with confidence.

“Aye, the gatherin’,” Duncan nodded, grinning. He was looking forward to the spring gathering. It was the one time of the year when the clans came together, friend and foe, to compete, sell their wares, and arrange marriages. MacGregors from all over the highlands and islands could secretly socialize with one another without anyone realizing who they were under the guise of their adopted names. It was where his father had met his mother and where someday he, himself, would most likely meet his own lass. Mayhap this year? Keeping a secret such as the one they kept led to a lonely existence. He was forced to pretend that his foes were his friends. Any of the clans would gladly kill him were they to discover the truth. He hoped to one day meet a young MacGregor lass to share the secret with. “Faither will want tae be leavin’ afore long.”

“Will ye be competin’ in the games?” Lachlan inquired as the men turned to walk back to the castle.

“Nae, I will leave ye tae defend the clan’s honor.” Duncan shook his head, slinging his bow over his shoulder.

“As the laird’s son, ye should compete. It is a dishonor that ye have so little regard for the ways o’ warfare. I dinnae understand ye at all, cousin,” Lachlan frowned.

“Mayhap I will compete in the archery tournament. It pleases me tae provide food for my family and the clan. Ye ken I can fight when needed.” Duncan playfully shoved at Lachlan causing him to stumble sideways.

Lachlan laughed. “Aye, I ken it well enough.”

“Well then,” Duncan nodded. Lachlan shoved him back, and the two of them continued on toward the castle in companionable silence.

When they arrived back at the castle, they found everyone running to and fro in preparation for their departure. Duncan entered in search of his father. He found him in his room coughing and wheezing. “Faither?”

“Aye,” his father gasped out in reply.

“Are ye well, Faither?” he asked in concern.

“I will nae die o’ a cough,” his father growled then coughed even harder, “but it looks as if ye will have tae attend the gatherin’ without me.”

“I will stay with ye,” Duncan offered.

“Nae, ye must go and represent our family, but dinnae forget that in their eyes ye are a Campbell. Dinnae lose yerself in yer cups and let slip our secret.”

“I would nae do such a thing and ye ken it,” Duncan remarked. He moved over to a side table and poured his father a tankard of water. “It sounds as if ye should be in bed.”

His father nodded his head in agreement and moved to crawl beneath his blankets. Once he was settled, Duncan handed him the tankard and urged him to drink. “I will go and get the healer. She was still at her croft when I passed by it.”

Duncan left the room and went to do as promised. He found the healer hanging herbs to dry. “Idonea,” he greeted the elderly woman.

“Aye?” Idonea turned in inquiry. “Duncan,” she greeted with a smile. “How can I be o’ service, lad?”

“’Tis faither that is in need o’ yer healin’ hands,” Duncan informed her.

The healer stopped what she was doing and grabbed a bag with various herbs in it. Duncan walked her up to the castle and went in search of Lachlan. He found his cousin in the stables. He turned at hearing Duncan enter. “Are ye ready tae depart?”

“Faither has fallen ill and will nae be goin’ tae the gatherin’. He has asked that we go without him,” Duncan answered, leaning against the side of a stall.

“Then we can go now and no’ wait for the others,” Lachlan replied. Duncan could tell that he was anxious to get underway.

“Aye, that we can. I will go and speak with the healer after she has seen tae faither, then we will go.” Lachlan nodded his head in acknowledgment, and Duncan returned to the castle. Once the healer had confirmed that the laird would recover with nothin’ but rest and some medicinal herbs, Duncan joined Lachlan, and they left for the gathering.

When they arrived at the gathering, Lachlan went off to join the other competitors, and Duncan perused the stalls filled with wares. He stopped to purchase a tankard of ale and then continued on down the line of stalls. The sun emerged from behind the clouds and turned the earth from a drab grey to a brilliant, fresh, spring green. A flash of red in the sunlight caught his attention, and he turned his head to discover the source. What he saw stopped him in his tracks and made his heart beat faster in his chest. His breath caught in his throat, and he coughed, choking on a mouthful of ale. Standing in front of the textile stall examining the cloth wares was the most beautiful lass he had ever seen. The light rippled through crimson rivulets down her back and sparkled a deep emerald green in her eyes. She wore a dress that matched her eyes, with creamy accents and a matching arisaid. Nothing about her person identified her clan, a common practice among hidden MacGregors. He himself refused to wear the Campbell colors. As the MacGregor colors were outlawed, he instead chose to wear Stuart colors in support of the Jacobite cause, as did many others of his hidden clan. As this was an accepted practice among various clans, no one raised an eye in question.

Duncan grinned, wiping the ale from his chin. He set his tankard aside and moved forward toward her. About halfway to the stall, he was stopped by his cousin. “There ye are. ‘Tis nearly time for my victory. Ye gave me yer word ye would be there.”

“Aye, I did.” Duncan turned back in hopes of speaking with the scarlet haired lass and found she had disappeared. He looked all about him, but did not see her anywhere.

“What are ye lookin’ for?” Lachlan asked, confused by his cousin’s behavior.

“There was a bonnie red haired lass. She was just here, and now she is gone. Did ye see where she went?”

Lachlan chuckled. “Nae I did no’ see, but dinnae fash. There are plenty more lassies tae choose from.”

“No’ like this one,” Duncan replied, shaking his head.

“They’re all the same. Ye’ll find another,” Lachlan insisted. “The games are startin’ and I dinnae want tae miss it.”

Duncan took one last look around for the bonnie lass, then followed Lachlan to watch the competition.

Chapter Two

Marra MacDonald slipped quietly through the darkness down the back stairs and out of the kitchen garden door. She scurried down to the water’s edge and found her maid, Diana, waiting for her beside a small boat. “If the laird catches us, I will be put tae the lash,” Diana protested one last time. She had attempted to discourage Marra from defying her father, but Marra would hear nothing of it. “We must return afore yer faither is done hunting.”

“He left afore I did and will nae return until after dark. If we leave now, we can attend the gatherin’ and return afore anyone kens we have gone,” Marra reassured her. “I have been lookin’ forward tae the gatherin’ all winter long and I am no’ goin’ tae let faither’s hatred o’ the Campbells keep me from goin’. I have read every book on the island, which was no’ verra many. I long tae acquire more.”

“Dinnae speak tae anyone while we are there and be sure tae keep that red hair o’ yers covered. It shines akin tae a beacon on a dark night tae every lad lookin’ for a lass,” Diana warned.

Marra scrunched her nose in disapproval at her maid’s demands. Marra’s father kept her locked away from everyone that he perceived as a threat to her virtue. She had not been allowed to converse with any lads outside of their family. She was expected to marry a laird and regain some of the MacDonald clans lost preeminence among the islands and highlands. Once the MacDonald had been the Laird of the Isles, but no more. Her father held a grudge against anyone who had played a part in their downfall, especially the Clan Campbell.

The two women climbed into the waiting boat and took turns rowing. It took them quite some time to make it across the water, but eventually they reached the opposite shore and tied the boat off, so it would not float away. “’Tis a stroke o’ good fortune that the gatherin’ is so close, or ye would ne’er be able tae attend without yer faither kennin’ it,” Diana huffed, collapsing onto the grass in exhaustion.

“Aye,” Marra sat down next to her in the grass and rolled her shoulders painfully. Rowing for so long had taken its toll on her body. They allowed themselves to rest for a moment then rose and walked the remaining short distance to the gathering. Marra drew her arisaid up over her hair. She had purposefully chosen not to wear the MacDonald tartan so as not to reveal her identity.

As they approached the gathering, Marra melted into the crowd, leaving Diana to do as she pleased. Marra meandered in and out of the stalls examining their wares. She hoped to find a book seller. She stopped at a textile stall and fingered the cloth. She liked several of the pieces, but were she to purchase them, it would be hard to explain where they had come from without admitting where she had been. A group of children ran past. A little girl tripped and grabbed at Marra to keep from falling. Her little hand clutched the edge of Marra’s arisaid pulling it from her head. Marra turned and helped the girl to her feet.

“Are ye hurt, lass?” Marra asked, helping her to brush the dirt from her dress.

“Nae.” The little girl shook her head, then ran off in pursuit of the other children.

Marra smiled at their exuberance. She missed the carefree days of her childhood when she had been allowed to run free with the other children of the island. The moment she had become a woman of interest to prospective husbands, her father had restricted her every deed. Diana had been hired to ensure her purity remained intact by chaperoning her at all times. Marra’s father had forbade her to attend the gathering, but Diana had taken pity on her, and so they had crossed the water for a brief moment’s relief.

“Do ye ken where I might purchase books?” Marra asked the textile merchant.

“Aye, ‘tis the next aisle over, lass,” the merchant answered, pointing his thumb over his shoulder at the next line of stalls.

Marra turned to go and caught sight of a man staring at her intently. She did not know him, but she feared he might recognize who she was and report her presence to her father. The man was handsome; tall with broad shoulders, long dark hair, and brilliant blue eyes. Those eyes… Where have I seen them before? She could not remember, but her heart beat faster in her chest as their eyes locked. A delicious shiver danced along her skin, causing her knees to tremble for a brief moment.  Another man with short dark hair and sharp hawk like features walked up and spoke to him, taking his attention from her. Marra used the distraction to slip between stalls through to the next aisle. She covered her hair with her arisaid once more and made her way to the book seller’s stall. She hoped to find one of Lady Mary Wroth’s works.

After finding what she was looking for, she strolled leisurely through the rest of the stalls and ended at the competition field. Lowering herself to the ground, she nibbled on a piece of meat pie and sipped from a tankard of ale. She watched as men competed to be named the best warrior among the clans. There were caber tosses, sword fights, archery, and many other challenges of strength and endurance. The hawk faced man she had seen earlier took the field and faced his challenger. The man was fierce and beat back his opponent with passionate fury. The hawk faced man won the bout and took on many more challengers winning second overall. When it came time for the archery tournament, the handsome blue eyed man stepped forward and drew his bow. When released, the arrow whistled through the air, thwacking into the target dead center with such force that it drove into the wooden post behind the target. The man unleashed another arrow and hit the same mark, breaking the first arrow with the impact. Marra had seldom seen the like. She marveled at his skill. She was certain he would make a wonderful hunter.

When the competitions ended, a feast was given followed by a dance. Marra was so excited she could barely contain herself. She dove into the dance with great energy. She knew she should not be dancing with strange men, but she was having so much fun that she could not resist. I have nae danced with anyone outside o’ my family for such a verra long time. The romantic nature of her heart ached to be free. Her arisaid fell away as she was swung around and around. Spinning, she became dizzy and lost her grip. Marra went flying away from her dance partner and straight into the arms of the blue eyed highlander. Her head slammed into his chest as his hands encircled her waist in an effort to stop her from getting hurt.

“Och, lass,” he exclaimed, reaching up to cradle her head. “Are ye well, my bonnie?” His voice was deep and husky, his blue eyes filled with concern as he gazed down upon her face. Marra stared up at him, lost in the sapphire depths.

She felt a bit faint. Please, God, dinnae let me fall down at his feet. A phrase from one of Lady Mary Wroth’s sonnets flashed through her mind. ‘Yet is their hope: Then Love but play thy part. Remember well thy self, and think on me; Shine in those eyes which conquer’d have my heart.’

“Yer bonnie?” she questioned dazed. She was certain she had never met the man before today, but she could not shake the feeling that she had gazed into his eyes before. His arms, wrapped about her torso, caused sensations of joy and longing to vibrate through her being.

“Aye, my bonnie.” His eyes sparkled above her face as he swept her up into a dance.

“I dinnae ken ye,” she protested, staring up at him. Her head was spinning, and she wondered if perhaps she had had too much ale.

“Nae, but ye will,” he answered grinning.

He was confident, and she could not help but smile at his audacity. “Ye are quite sure o’ that are ye?”

“Oh, aye,” he answered, pulling her closer.

“I believe ye will find me no’ quite so easily won as that of an archery tournament.” She felt emboldened, almost coquettish, as she spun about in his arms.

“Ah, ye saw me win then,” he noted, his eyes laughing down at her in merriment.

“Aye,” she nodded in acknowledgment. “I have ne’er seen a shot like it.”

“I can dance e’en better,” he remarked suggestively, tightening his hold on her waist.

“That has yet tae be seen,” she teased, daring him with her eyes to prove it.

“Then I claim every last dance with ye tae show ye.” He grinned mischievously.

Marra found she could not resist his charm and agreed to allow him to lead her through the remainder of the dances. As they danced, she traced the features of his handsome face in her mind, committing it to memory. I wish tae remember this moment just as it is once I have been returned to my island prison. I dinnae want tae forget a single detail. They danced song after song. Her heart felt as if it might burst from all of the sensations and feelings his presence caused within her. In all of her young life, she had never felt anything like it before. Is this what the French mean by être le coup de foudre, tae be in love as swift as a flash o’ lightin’ streakin’ across the sky?

Darkness began to descend across the land, but Marra did not notice until Diana called her name. “Marra! We must go now!”

Marra turned her head to see Diana’s concerned face peering through the crowd. She saw the darkening sky, and fear filled her heart, replacing the warm glow that had been hers but moments before. Faither will beat me if he discovers I have gone! Marra pushed away from the man who with so few words had won her heart and moved toward Diana.

The man grabbed her arm to stop her. “Where are ye goin’, lass? I dinnae e’en ken yer name.”

“Marra, my name is Marra.”

“I am Duncan. ‘Tis a pleasure tae meet ye, Marra.”

“Mara!” Diana’s voice called more frantically.

“I must go. My faither will be expectin’ me.” Marra attempted to move away once more.

“When may I see ye again?” he asked, his eyes pleading with her.

“I dinnae ken. My faither does no’ allow me the freedom tae come and go as I choose,” she answered, wishing with all her heart that she could see him again.

“Meet me tomorrow, here in the glen?” he asked.

“I can no’ do as ye ask,” she protested, eyeing the darkening sky. “I really must go.”

“Meet me?” he asked again.

Marra looked up into his eyes and found she could not deny him as she wished for it as much as he. “Aye, tomorrow,” she promised, then fled to follow Diana back to the boat.

“Wait I dinnae ken yer clan,” she could hear his voice call out after her, but she did not turn around. She and Diana took off at a run in a panicked need to get back to the castle before her father found out their secret.

Diana clutched her hand in fear. “We are no’ goin’ tae make it!”

“We must!”

Chapter Three

“Wait, I dinnae ken yer clan,” Duncan called out after the beautiful red haired lass. Holding her in his arms as they danced had been the most wonderful experience of his life. He could not let her go without knowing for sure whether she was a secret MacGregor or not. He followed her in hopes of an answer, but found his way blocked by Lachlan. His cousin stood in front of him, his arms crossed, a disapproving look upon his face.

“Do ye ken who ye were dancin’ with?” Lachlan demanded frowning.

“Her name is Marra. I dinnae ken her clan,” Duncan replied attempting to move around him.

Lachlan moved to block him once more. “She is a MacDonald. The laird’s daughter o’ the MacDonald’s o’ the Isle o’ Jura.”

“Nae, she cannae be,” Duncan protested.

“She is,” Lachlan confirmed.

“How could ye possibly ken such a thing?” Duncan demanded to know, angered by his cousin’s intrusion.

“Yer faither ordered me tae spy upon her faither. I saw her then.”

Duncan knew that his father had spies among the MacDonald clan, but he did not know that Lachlan had been one of them. His heart sank. “I am supposed tae meet her here upon the morrow.”

“Yer faither will have ye at the mercy o’ the lash were he tae ken yer plans,” Lachlan warned. “Ye must no’ meet her. If she were tae discover who we truly are, all would be lost.”

“She will no’,” Duncan argued. “How would she?”

Lachlan shook his head in disapproval. “Ye think the MacDonald does no’ have spies o’ his own. It would no’ take any time at all afore yer faithers kenned what ye were doin’. Ye could bring down the entire clan with yer foolishness.”

“Are ye absolutely certain that she is a MacDonald?” Duncan did not want to believe that the most beautiful woman he had ever seen was his enemy.

“Aye, I am certain. She is no’ the sort o’ lass one easily forgets,” Lachlan confirmed.

“Nae, she is no’.” Duncan shook his head in frustration. He felt connected to the lass even now. They had barely spoken to one another and yet had shared more than words could ever express as he held her in his arms. He could still feel the heat of her body against the palm of his hand. The emerald green of her eyes was burned into his mind. Every time she looked up at him, his heart had skipped a beat in his chest. He had never felt anything like it before, and the notion intrigued him.

“Ye cannae see her again and that is the end o’ it,” Lachlan demanded.

Duncan felt anger and rebellion rise up within him at his cousin’s words. He knew he should not feel so strongly about a lass that he just met, but he could not seem to help himself. It angered him that she was the daughter of his father’s mortal enemy, but deep down he knew that she had no say in the matter of her paternity. She in turn would not have known who he was. Was it fair to hold her identity against her when he himself had a less than ideal pedigree in the eyes of her own clan? Were she to discover who he really was, would she have anything to do with him? Would she turn him in? The questions tumbled through Duncan’s mind like rapid flowing water over a rocky stream bed. He knew it would be best if he walked away and never saw the lass again, but he could not bring himself to do it. In spite of Lachlan’s warning, Duncan decided that he would meet her on the morrow. He would never know the answers to his questions unless he did.

The pair of cousins returned home, but Duncan’s heart and mind remained with the beautiful red haired lass. The next morning Duncan informed his father, who was still sick abed, that he would be gone for most of the day out hunting. He purposefully avoided Lachlan, so as not to cause another argument, and left the castle. Will she be there as she promised?

He made his way back to the gathering ground and, not seeing her, sat down on a rock to wait. Remnants of the previous day’s festivities were scattered about the grounds. Those who had stayed overnight had departed, leaving nothing but smoking coals in their wake. Duncan kept his eyes out for possible game, but the smell of the smoke kept anything of note at bay. The sun crossed the sky, but there was no sign of her, and yet Duncan continued to wait. Where are ye lass?

He waited until the sun began to sink into the earth before he gave up and returned home. She had not come, and his heart felt as though it had been trampled. He knew it did not make any sense to be so hurt by her rejection, given their brief acquaintance, but he was. His father had known from the moment that he met Duncan’s mother that she was the one for him, and Duncan had felt the same about the lass. She is my còmhla ri anam. The instant their eyes had met he had known, but apparently she had not.

He returned to the castle in a foul mood. He found his father sitting in the great hall in front of the large fireplace. The MacGregor looked up from staring absently into the flames. “Duncan, ‘tis nae like ye tae return empty handed, my lad.”

“Aye,” Duncan grumbled as he sat down in the chair across from the laird. “The gatherin’ scared off most o’ the game.”

“Aye, that would do it,” his father nodded his head in acknowledgement. He coughed hard, covering his mouth with a cloth he clutched in his hand. When he pulled it away, there were flecks of blood staining its surface.

“Faither?” Duncan leaned forward in concern.

“’Tis nothin’, my lad. Dinnae fash. All will be well in time. Idonea has it in hand.”

“But the blood…?” Duncan questioned, but stopped when his father raised his hand for silence.

“As I said, all will be well in time,” the laird insisted. Nodding, Duncan arose and bid his father a good night. “Sleep well, my lad.” He took his son’s hand, squeezed it affectionately, and then let go.

Duncan spent a restless night and did not fall asleep until just before the dawn. When he awoke some time later, it was to a great deal of commotion below stairs. Duncan threw on his clothes and rushed down the stairs sword in hand. When he entered the great hall, he found his father surrounded by warriors from the Clan MacDonald. The MacDonald laird was yelling at his father, while MacGregor warriors stood between them. “Yer son has taken my daughter, and I want her back. Yer son will face my wrath, or I will bring this castle down around yer ears afore I slit yer throat,” he roared.

“I did no’ take yer daughter, MacDonald,” Duncan answered from behind them.

The MacDonalds turned around and glared at him. Three of the warriors stepped forward, swords at the ready. “I ken that ye were with her at the gatherin’ and that she was tae meet ye again. Her maid Diana told me all when Marra did no’ return. I ken it was ye, and I demand ye return her tae me.”

“I did no’ take yer daughter. She did no’ meet me as we had agreed. She ne’er came,” Duncan answered.

“Ye will face justice for what ye have done if it is the last thing these auld bones e’er do. Take him,” the MacDonald laird commanded his men, motioning for them to obey.

“Ye will no’ touch my son if ye value yer lives,” Duncan’s father roared, pushing himself to his feet coughing. When he caught his breath, he stepped forward and stood to his full height. As a large man, he towered over the MacDonald warriors and glared at them menacingly.  Turning to the MacDonald laird, he tempered his gaze. “Ye and I have been enemies for many a year, but ‘tis a sad thing indeed for a faither tae lose a bairn. We did no’ have anythin’ tae do with her disappearance. My son would ne’er be responsible for the takin’ o’ a lass.”

“I demand that yer son accompany me back tae my castle as a hostage until my daughter is returned tae me. Ye return my daughter tae me, and I will return yer son,” the MacDonald laird demanded.

“I will no’ allow ye tae take my son,” his father motioned for the MacGregor warriors to move forward.

Duncan took in the situation and knew that blood was bound to be shed. If they were to fight here as they were, many of them would die, and Marra would be left alone without anyone to find out what had befallen her. “I did no’ take yer daughter, and I will no’ go with ye, MacDonald, but I will find her. I take full responsibility. Though I did no’ take her, I am the reason she was outside o’ yer castle walls. When she did no’ come tae meet me, I thought she had decided tae honor yer wishes and remain at home. Had I kenned she was in danger, I would have done all in my power tae protect her. I will do all in my power now tae find her. I swear it on my life. If I dinnae find Marra, I will place myself in yer hands tae do with as ye see fit.”

“Nae,” Duncan’s father protested. “I will no’ let ye take my only son.”

“Faither, it is the honorable thing tae do. Ye ken well my skills as a hunter. I will find her.”

His father stared at him, a myriad of emotions crossing his face. “I will no’ lose ye, my lad. I would slaughter all o’ Scotland afore I would let anyone harm ye.”

“As I would do for ye, Faither,” Duncan replied, coming to stand beside him. He laid a hand on the older man’s shoulder and squeezed it affectionately.

“What do ye say MacDonald? Do we have an accord?” Duncan asked.

“Aye, we have an accord. Ye will find my daughter or ye will die by my hand,” the MacDonald laird nodded sheathing his sword.

“I will depart immediately. Did yer daughter’s maid give ye anythin’ that might be o’ use in findin’ where she might have gone?” Duncan asked, sheathing his own sword.

“Aye, she told me o’ where they landed the boat for the gatherin’ and that Marra had intended tae do the same on the day she was tae meet ye. We found her boat on the shore. There were signs o’ a struggle on the beach, but nothin’ more. I forbade her tae attend the gatherin’, but she defied me. She snuck out o’ the castle before dawn tae row across, alone in the darkness, tae meet ye, the foolish lass. She is meant for a better man than ye Campbells.” The MacDonald laird spat on the floor in disgust at the idea of his daughter courting the son of his enemy. “Ye will ne’er have her, find her or no’.”

“Her safety is all that concerns me,” Duncan replied, scowling at the man before him. The MacDonald laird hated them for being Campbells, something they were not, but to reveal their true identity was to die.

“See that it is,” the MacDonald growled, then jerked his head for his warriors to follow him out of the castle. Before he walked out of the door, he turned back and leveled a menacing gaze at Duncan’s face. “Find her or die.”

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  • I enjoyed this first glimpse of a great book. It has strong male characters along with a strong female. The idea of clans fighting over women is a good one as well as falling in love at first glance.
    I look forward to reading the rest of the book.

  • Very interesting right from the beginning. I like the strong characters and look forward to reading the rest!

  • Excellent start from the very beginning. It includes the history of clans being forced to change or hide their names along with the lengthy feuds that carried on over many lifetimes of the clan. To top it off is the love at first sight with neither of them aware of what clan the other was from. The intrigue of Marra going missing adds to the suspense. I look forward to reading more!

  • Love how the book begins. I can’t wait to see how it ends! The intrigue and the conflict of them being Campbell’s when they are truly Clan MacGregor. Will Lachlan help Duncan or will he be left to go at finding Marra alone…

  • Oh what a place to end the first 3 chapters. A real cliffhanger. The suspense and mystery of Marra’s disappearance leaves one wanting to read more. I can hardly wait.

  • I have read through these chapters to find any clue as to who might have taken Marra, and when so few chapters draw my curiosity so quickly, I am eager for the rest! Hope they come soon!

  • I can hardly wait to read the complete book. From what I have read it looks to be an other well written Highlander book. My ancestor Dugal McQueen fought in the 1715 Uprising and was brought to the states on “The Friendship” as indentured servant. These books provide a look into the life and the struggles they encountered daily.

  • Excited to read the rest of the book! Can’t wait to find out what happened to Marra! Hope this book comes out soon!

  • Fast paced and very intriguing. I can’t wait to find out where Marra is and what happens to Duncan.

  • Oohhh wow! I have a feeling that Duncan’s cousin might have a hand in Marra’s disappearance. I am waiting now for the rest of the story.

  • Can’t hardly wait to read the rest of this New book. Fiona, your books keep getting better with each one of them.

  • Oh! I loved it! I do hope that you include a glossary at the end telling us (at least) the meaning of the phrases you use, if not the pronunciation! I can’t wait to see if Duncan finds Marra before more harm befalls her!

  • Sounds like it is goin to be a great read. I immediately got caught up in it. Can’t wait to read the rest. I hate being teased and having to wait to find out the rest of the story, Please hurry and finish it, don’t keep me such suspense, that just isn’t a nice thing to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sue D.

  • Oh Fiona, you may have a bestseller on your hands. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised, I was captivated from the start. I can’t wait to see what happened to Marra. I love the way you started out by laying out the backgrounds between the clans and introducing the main characters.

  • Such a great start to the Highlander’s Wicked Game. I can hardly wait till Sunday for the book to come out. I wonder where Marra is? As usual, you’ve quickly caught my attention. Good job!

  • Intriguing beginning! Marra is a strong-willed lass. I’m sure she will do all she can to escape on her own, but Duncan has much to overcome—not just locating her but his ancestry as well. This will be a book worth waiting for.

    • I can’t wait for you to read it my dear Marsha! I’m so glad you enjoyed these first three chapters ?

  • With just the first three chapters you have grabbed my rapt attention. Who has taken Marra, will Duncan find her and will the two of them be able to reconcile the feud started by their fathers? I can’t wait to see the how the story continues.

  • I loved it and look forward to seeing how it resolves. I’m sure Marra and Duncan will find some way to be together but I’m curious to find out who abducted her . I’m hoping it’s another rival clan rather than Lachlan but he’s the only other person on Duncan’s side to know if the planned meeting. I guess only time will tell lol

  • This book looks to be as intriguing as your others. I can’t wait to read the rest to find out what happens next.

  • Sounds good but looks like Mara got into trouble all because she snuck out early again. Hopefully she gets rescued by Duncan.

  • Good strong start, love the relationship between father and son. Can’t wait to see how Duncan saves and convinces Marra he is her soulmate. I really enjoy stories when the hero isn’t afraid to show he is a caring guy, along with strength.

  • I like this beginning but I wish they were not in such a tangle of Clans. Looking forward to finishing this story.

  • A really good first draft. I love the suspense, and I’m already in love with the lead characters.

  • I enjoyed the images that were invoked, such as Duncan’s first glimpse of Marra, or her desire to be a normal girl free to dance and even fall in love. I have a suspicion about who is responsible for taking Marra, so will be anxious to see if I am correct, lol. I hope that we are really able to see these characters develop to their fullest.Very nice beginning . . .

  • I can’t wait to read the rest of this Highlander’s Wicked Game. Is it ready to read yet? It has already intrigued me, I really want to read the entire book. Please let me know when I will be able to get it. Love all your books that I’ve had the privilege of reading. Please keep writing, I love your story lines and all the adventure and love you include in your books.

  • Interesting setup like many other similar Highlander stories out now. The twist of the McGregor situation is a good one. I’ll be watching to see what comes out of this plot.

  • Brilliant! Ye have me hooked and I must read the rest LOL Wonderful detail and I found myself no longer seeing the words but instead the story playing out in my mind. Thanks be to Outlander and all the Scottish romances to know the accent. That in and of itself makes this story seem so very real. You have it on point. I am finding it hard to not type in the accent!

  • I throughly enjoyed the first 3 chapters, they definitely got my attention. I loved the strong attitudes of both and I’m looking forward to what happens in the end.

  • Really enjoyed the first three chapters, looking forward to the release of the book so that I can find out if Duncan finds Mara and they have their HEA

  • I love the start of this because I sympathize with Marra on going to the Spring Fling. This is a good story so far especially with Duncan offering to find her or offer his life in return!

  • Interesting start, can’t wait to find out what happens next. Who could have taken her? Is the little girl who stumbled into her somehow involved? Looking forward to reading more!

  • Looks like another exciting Highland romance with a dash of mystery and intrigue thrown in for good measure. I can hardly wait to read the rest of the story!

  • I really enjoyed the first 3 chapters. I love, love, so a love at first sight story drew me in quickly. There chemistry was phenomenal. I found myself cheesing the whole time they talked to each other. I was disappointed when she did not show up but very pleased to know she tried. In her shoes, I would have at least tried too. You don’t just walk away from a strong possibility. They are few and far between!!! Bravo, Fiona. You did this!!!!!

  • This makes me want to read more. I live Scottish historical romance. This one already grabs and holds your interest.

  • I am left feeling captive. I am ready to dive into the book to lose myself among the MacDonald’s and Campbell’s!

  • Enjoyed the story so far. Want to find out how Duncan finds Marta and who is involved. Simply writte, easy to follow, want more.

  • Highlanders’ Wicked Game promises to be a wonderful story. I wanted to continue reading after the Third Chapter. I can’t wait to read the full story! Characters are believable and I can picture the scenes easily. Thanks for sharing the first three chapters with me!

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