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Merry Christmas Snippet: Christmas in Kilts Anthology

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As an extra special Christmas treat, the staff at That’s What I’m Talking About blog bring you a collection of snippets from Christmas in Kilts.  A lovely Christmas themed collection of novellas featuring Scots, kilts, love and family.  Please enjoy and we wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends,

About the Book

Christmas in Kilts   
Author:  Terri Brisbin, Lavinia Kent, Bronwen Evans, May McGoldrick, and Lecia Cornwall
Publisher:   Swerve
Released:  October 31, 2017
Genre:  Historical Romance, novellas
Author contact links:   Terri Brisbin, Lavinia Kent, Bronwen Evans, May McGoldrick, Lecia Cornwall
Purchase links:  Amazon
REVIEW

Snippet:

A Highlander’s Hope by Terri Brisbin ~

“‘Tis not late enough to sleep,” she said as she watched him stand.  His male flesh did as well.

“Aye, ’tis not.”  Instead of reaching for her, he walked past her and picked p her gown and shift.  “And there will be plenty of time for that,” he said, understanding her expectation.  “I need to walk a bit after riding for these last days.  Do ye mind?”  He held out her garments to her.

“‘Tis yer time to do as ye please, Iain.”  And his coin.  She would naysay him not at all during his time here.

His gaze darkened, and a flash of something moved over his expression.  She, who could read men and their needs and wants, was mystified, for it was either anger or disappointment.  At her?  What had she said to cause it?  Then it was gone, and he nodded at the clothing in her hands.

“Join me?” He’d surprised her, which startled her even more.

Robena nodded and got dressed quickly.  No matter her haste, she could not help but watch him, trying to understand his mood, his needs.

Men were creatures of habit, and she’d learned early on to be mindful of those habits in her customers.  Men also appreciated her attention to the details, so they did not have to repeat themselves.  They liked it when she did the things they liked her to do without having to ask.  Though there were those who liked the ordering part of things, most enjoyed the feeling that they were special enough to remember.  And they paid well for that from her.

He paid her well for that.  But this was not his habit to do.  Usually, on shorter visits, he spent most of their time together on that pallet, barely pausing to eat or sleep.  On his longer visits, over the dark days and nights of midwinter, he slept here, and spent most of his days with Robbie and the others.

Something was different now.  Not in a bad way, but in a way that set her senses off.  Watching him, he seemed to be thinking on some matter that made him quieter than usual.  He  lifted her cloak from the peg by the door and held it for her.  When she tied it on, he lifted the latch and waited for her to go first.

The night air swirled around them, cold but not damp.  Winter was nigh, and they but waited for the first storm of the season to strike.  She lifted her head and inhaled deeply, enjoying the fresh coldness of it.  A nigh-to-full moon lit the ground and mace it easier to see their way.  Though she could walk the village paths in sheer darkness, he did not know his way around as well.

“Do you have a place in mind to go?” she asked.

“Nay,” he said, holding out his hand to her.  “Just around.”

She took his hand and he pulled her closer, tucking her into his side, though she was used to walking without touching him.  Admittedly, in the chill of the night, his nearness warmed her.  He shortened his longer paces to fit hers and they made their way along the path through the village.

Since they encountered no one at this time of night, Robena wondered if that was the reason why he touched her so outside her cottage.  Everyone in the village knew of his visits, so it would surprise no one, but he also did not make it his custom to do this.  She glanced at their joined hands and wondered what to make of it.

He pulled her to a stop then, and turned her to face him.  Pushing the hood of her cloak back, he grabbed her shoulders and lifted her face to his.

And kissed her over and over until she was breathless.  When he lifted his head and gazed down at her, there was something there in his eyes she’d not seen before.  An emotion that had no place between a man and his whore.  Something that would muck up everything between them, if she was correct about what she saw there.

Terrified at the very thought, she did the only thing she knew to do-she wrapped her arms around him and kissed him back.

 

A Highland Christmas Wager by Lecia Cornwall ~

Hugh knew it was none of his business.  He was here for Catriona.  What Magnus or Meggie MacLeod or anyone else did was not his concern.  He should say what he came to say and go.  But the proposal stuck in his throat, and a desire to punch the smirk off Manus’s face took its place.  He wanted to warn Meggie MacLeod to flee, help her to do just that, but the storm wouldn’t let anyone leave tonight.

“I think I’ll go up and dress for the meal,” he said instead.

“All the better to impress her, eh, MacAulay?” Charlie said.  “Think one of us can steal her from Magnus?  Someone will have to keep the luscious Meggie warm tonight.”

“She’s mine.  Stay away from her,” Magnus growled.

“Is she?” Charlie asked.  “She didn’t look happy to see ye.  Perhaps she remembers your charms with less fondness than ye remember hers.”

“Oh, she remembers-did you see her melt when I did naught but touch her elbow?”

Charlie laughed.  “If ye’d gotten any closer, your nose would have lodged between her lovely breasts, and ye’d have suffocated.”

Magnus frowned.  “I’ll do more than that once her seanmhair is abed.”

“I seem to recall she reminded ye of your obligation as her host to leave her be,” Hugh said.

“And she said she carries a dirk,” Charlie added.

Magnus glared at them both.  “What of it?  The MacLeod teaches his daughters to fight like men if they have to.  They all have dirks in their sleeves.  Not that I’ve seen Meggie’s.  She left it off when last we met.  And she hasn’t wed-likely that means she never found a man to compare to me.”

“Or ye put her off men completely,” Charlie said.

“Once she’s warmed up and fed, I daresay she’ll be eager to renew our, um, friendship,” Magnus said.

“I’m not so sure she’d welcome ye, Magnus,” Charlie said.

“Care to wager on it?” Magnus asked.  “Ye don’t know her like I do.  She’s a banked fire, a flame that needs only a little encouragement, a breath, to stir it to life.”  He poked his thumb into his chest.  “I know what she likes.”

“Seems to me a woman like Meggie is going to like different things than a lass of eighteen.  I daresay she’s changed since ye knew her.  She’s probably had other, better men,” Charlie argued.

Magnus folded his arms over his chest.  “Ye saw how she blushed whenever I so much as looked at her.”

“She smiled at MacAulay sweetly enough, and at me,” Charlie said.

“What’s your point?  You’re here to wed Catriona, MacKay.  Remember that,” Magnus said.

Hugh looked up in surprise.  Charlie MacKay was here to wed Catriona? Then he’d lost, would go home empty-handed…

But Charlie laughed as he slumped in his chair and set his booted feet on the table.  “Perhaps.”  He sighed.  “Aye, I think I will take your wager.”

Warning prickled along Hugh’s neck.  Magnus waited, studying his brother-in-law.

“Let’s say the first one of us who can steal a kiss from the lovely Meggie wins,” Charlie said.  “Are you game, MacAulay?”

Hugh knew he should say no, walk away, have no part in it, but his mouth watered at the thought of kissing Meggie MacLeod.  “What are the stakes?”

 

A Scot for Christmas by  ~ Bronwen Evans

She pushed aside her hurt and said, “I have come to ask for a favor.”

He frowned and took another swig of whisky.  “I’d be honored to help if I can.”

“You have not heard what the favor is.”  She could feel her face heat and it wasn’t because of the whisky.  She hurried on.  “Did you know I will be six and twenty in January?”

He laughed.  “I thought I’d known you for a long time.  Ten years.”

His smiled faded so she said, “Lots has happened in that ten years.”

He merely swallowed and nodded.

“Anyway, on my birthday, I’m moving from Yorkshire to build my own life.  I’m going to Cornwall to live in my grandmother’s cottage.  She left it to me last year.  I love it there.  It’s near St. Ives and sits up on the hill overlooking the sea.  It’s quite beautiful.  She has a field of wild flowers surrounding the house.

He sat looking at her as if she were speaking a foreign language.

“I would have thought your father and brother would have found you a husband by now.”

She gave a small smile.  “Would you let your father find you a wife?”  She saw him blanch.  How odd.  His father had not been party to his wedding to Francesca.  She forcefully said, “If I were to marry, I would pick my husband.”

“If?  Surely you want to marry.”

She did.  She wanted children.  “I might wish to marry but it would appear I am not-that is-I have not met the right man.”  Or any man who wanted her enough to marry her, large dowry and all.  What was she thinking?  Why would Dougray find her desirable when no other man had?  Giraffeworth-the name said it all.  Tall and clumsy.  She towered over most men and they disliked her for it.  She couldn’t help how tall she was.  She swallowed back her fears that Dougray would laugh at her notion.  She had come this far…

“I made a decision that if I turned six and twenty still unwed I would embrace my spinsterhood.  I’d gain my independence by moving to my own cottage.”

He reached out and tucked a stray curl behind her ear.  “I think Englishmen must be mad or you’re very fussy.  And I realize none of them are good enough for you.  You are a beautiful woman, intelligent too.  I’m not surprised you are being choosey but there will be someone out there for you.”

There was.  He was sitting beside her, but Dougray loved a ghost.

He smiled and joked, “So, you want me to find you a strapping highlander?  I suspect if I let it be known you were looking for a husband I would have a queue at my door for a bonnie lass such as you.”

Emma loved it when his polish slipped and he spoke in his native brogue.  She could imagine him a Scottish warrior of old.

“No.”  She took a deep breath and quietly said, “I want you to be my lover.  During my stay I would like you to teach me about passion before I settle into spinsterhood.”

 

Leftover Mistletoe by Lavinia Kent ~

When she’d boarded the coach she had thought her life could not get worse, now she knew differently.

“I think I’ll just stay in the coach,” she said.  “I am sure somebody will come by and it is better than wandering a strange wood.”

Barran turned back to her.  “I beg to differ.”

Why did she feel that each word was dragged from him, that he’d just as soon leave her to the wolves…?  Were there wolves?  She thought the’d all died out, but… No, she would not think like that, even a cruel God must show some mercy.  “Do you really believe we would be better off alone in the dark without shelter?”

Again she could not see his thoughts.  He did not wish to be bothered with this, with her.

He stomped his feet as if shaking off the cold.  “Alone?  We will not be alone.  We will be together.  Unless you insist on staying in the coach.  Then I am afeared you will be very much alone.”

He wouldn’t.  He would.  Determination marked his hard stance.  Yes, he would leave her.  He might be gentleman enough to take her with him, but he would not let her deter his plans, whatever they were.  “You act as if you know these woods.”

“I do.”  No further elaboration.

She slid forward until her feet rested firmly on the ground and she could feel the twinge of pain in her ankle.  “And what if I say I am not sure that I can walk.  My ankle is quite twisted.”

His jaw jutted out.  “You can lean on me.”  He did not seem pleased by the prospect.

Now, that was certainly not flattering.  She knew she was pretty at the very least.  A few bleak weeks ago men had fought for even the brush of her hand.  And judging by how he’d pressed against her in the coach he could not be completely indifferent, could he?  She cooled her voice.  “And if that is not enough?”

“Then I will manage to carry you.”  Again he sounded far from pleased.

Why was he acting this way?  Was he implying that she was heavy?  He looked strong enough to carry a cow.  “And do you know where we are heading?  You mentioned a cabin.”

“Yes.”

He was certainly not a man of many words, not that she could claim to be verbose herself.  She glanced about again.  Had she taken leave of her senses, wandering off into the woods with a stranger?  Probably yes, but then, what choice did she have?  What choice had she had since the moment of her father’s death?  “Find me a stick to lean on.”

 

Sweet Home Highland Christmas by May McGoldrick ~

“Perhaps if I introduced myself, we could converse more properly,” he said.  “My name is Captain Gregory Pennington, but to my friends I’m just Penn.”

“Well, I’m Ella, which is what everyone calls me.  Except Grandfather.  He has a number of names for me that Fie says I mustn’t repeat.”

Remembering that she needed to curtsy, she did so.  As a smile pulled at her lips, two dimples formed in her cheeks.

Before he could respond, the door to the coach yard opened and a taller, older version of his miniature inquisitor sailed into the coffee room.  Brown eyes that matched Ella’s swept the crowd and the woman’s hood fell back, giving Penn a clear view of the red-cheeked beauty.  He had no doubt to whom the little girl belonged.

Cloaked in a blue greatcoat, the woman paused inside the door and pulled gloves from her hands as she looked for her party.  From the balanced stance to the set of her jaw, everything about her indicated strength and confidence, and only served to enhance her beauty.  A high forehead and clear eyes dominated her perfectly symmetrical features.  Her full pursed lips stirred something in him that he preferred not to be entertaining, considering the circumstances.

Aware that Penn’s attention had been diverted, Ella turned and saw the woman by the door.

“That’s Fie,” she told him, running between tables toward her.

“Fie” lifted the child as small arms wrapped around her neck.  The two presented a mirror image.  A quick kiss, and then matching dimples formed in their cheeks as they looked into each other’s eyes.  The woman whispered a few words to Ella and pressed a kiss on her forehead.  The little one planted a return kiss on her forehead.  Kisses were required on each cheek, and returned in kind.  Penn recognized a ritual when he saw one.  They made a beautiful pair, and he realized others were staring at the two, as well.

As he watched her put the child down, Penn waited to see the lucky bastard who was due to follow Fie in from the yard.  No one came in.  So where was the husband?  The two came hand in hand to the table where the nursemaid waited.

Penn couldn’t help himself.  His attention was riveted to their table.

Cá bhfuil sé?” the nursemaid asked in Gaelic.  “The colonel isn’t here?”

There was a slight shake of the had as the younger woman tried to encourage Ella to sit at the table.

“What’ll you do, mistress?”

Fie sent another silent plea to the nursemaid to divert the conversation, but it appeared to be too late.

“He’s not here?” Ella blurted, looking up.

“No, my love,” Fie responded.  “But don’t worry.  We have to make many stops along the way.  He has ample opportunity to catch up to us.”

“But that won’t do,” Ella said, raising  her voice and scrambling off the bench.

“Don’t worry yourself, sweetheart.  Why don’t you-”

“No, Fie.  No.  We have a great deal to worry about.”  She glanced at Penn and tugged on her mother’s arm.  “But I can fix this. Come.  Come with me.”

He watched as the young girl tried to turn the woman toward his table.

“He’s thirty years old, not married, and not a pauper.  And I like him better than Colonel Richard.”

The woman leaned over the child.  “Honey, you have no reason to fret.  We’ll be-”

“No, Fie!  Listen to me!” Stamping her foot, she pointed at Penn.  “You have to ask him to marry you.  Please.  Then you can keep me.”

 

Book Blurb:

Tis the season to fall in love! These five bestselling authors bring you great tiding of highlanders and romances this holiday season!

A HIGHLANDER’S HOPE by Terri Brisbin

A village harlot who would never dream she could have a different life meets a Highlander visitor for the holidays who brings with him an offer and hope!

LEFTOVER MISTLETOE by Lavinia Kent

What happens when a highlander finds himself stranded, maybe kidnapped, with an English lady around Christmas… maybe the mistletoe will help answer that question.

A SCOT FOR CHRISTMAS by Bronwen Evans

She’s ready to embrace her life and future as a spinster, he’s trying to have one last hurrah before he gives into his family’s wishes and proposes marriage to his neighbor, but fate has other ideas when the lady and the Scot meet at a holiday house party in the wilds of Scotland.

SWEET HOME HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS by May McGoldrick

A chance encounter between a ship’s captain and a desperate aunt trying to keep custody of her young niece leads to a little magic during the holidays.

A HIGHLAND CHRISTMAS WAGER by Lecia Cornwall

When a snowstorm forces a charming lass hiding a broken heart to take shelter in a castle with three fine Highland lairds just days before Christmas, there’s a game afoot—who will be the first to win a kiss and maybe her heart.

 

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