Kindle Author Sponsor: Laurin Wittig
Charming the Shrew
"Charming the Shrew has everything needed for the perfect story, treachery, greed, insecurity, humor, hot love scenes, a really good fight scene, and judgment before a reputable king... Make sure Charming the Shrew is at the top of your reading list, and let the call of the Highlands whisk you away to a time and place where love is a rarity, but when found, it is found forever."
—Catherine McHenry, Romance Reviews Today
"In this exhilarating Highlands adventure Wittig knows how to merge passion, wild adventure, history and danger into a perfect tale that takes your breath away and tugs at the heart."
—Romantic Times BOOKClub
"Charming, fun and captivating...a powerful historical romance, not to be missed!"
—Tracey West, The Road to Romance
The story of the stormy MacLeods of Assynt begins …
Catriona MacLeod, known as the Shrew of Assynt, refuses to let her five older brothers run her life. When they arrange a marriage for her with the last man in Scotland she would ever consent to wed, she flees her home determined to make her own way in the world only to find herself abandoned by her horse and caught in the fickle winter weather of the Scottish Highlands.
Tayg Munro is a warrior in King Robert the Bruce's army, and an inveterate charmer of the lasses. In order to avoid well meaning matchmaking, he takes on a task for the King -- traveling deep into the Highlands at the start of winter with a message to a recalcitrant chief.
When the shrew and the charmer are thrown together by happenstance, foul weather, and a plot against the king, sparks fly and a deep surprising passion flames to life between them. Trouble follows close on their heels as they travel together to warn the king. Only by trusting each other and their growing love that warms even the shrew's careful heart, can they hope to survive the harsh climate, her hoard of brothers and the man who seeks harm to the king.
Book Excerpt from Charming the Shrew:
"Leave my chamber now!" Catriona MacLeod glared at her eldest brother, Broc, and pointed a finger at the door.
He was aptly named, closely resembling the badger both in appearance and in temperament. Tall with a sharp face, midnight hair and small eyes, he was quick to pick a fight and ruthless in defending his right to order about his many younger siblings. Catriona, the youngest, knew well how to deal with his brand of arrogance.
He stepped toward her. "I am not finished instructing you in –"
"It seems to me that the last time you 'instructed' me your porridge was burned every morning for a month, your bed collapsed beneath you, and –"
"Enough!" he bellowed. Catriona enjoyed the crimson cast to his skin.
"I am a woman grown and will run this castle as I see fit. If you do not like it, leave. ‘Twould improve the smell greatly."
He stepped closer until they were nearly nose to nose and she could see the hardness in his dark eyes.
"You will not run this castle with your demands and threats much longer, Triona," Broc said. "Soon I will become chief, then my wife will see to its running and finally I will have some peace, a decent meal and no more of your cutting tongue."
"Are you not forgetting something?" she said, moving away from him but not being so stupid as to take her eyes off him.
"I never forget – "
"You have no wife. Pity no one will marry a mighty lout like you."
"Unlike you, dear sister." He surged forward and grabbed her arm, squeezing hard. Silently she cursed herself for not evading his grasp, but she would not give him the satisfaction of knowing he hurt her. "You will be married sooner than you imagine."
Catriona’s skin crawled at the quiet threat in his loathsome voice.
"What do you mean?" she asked, despising the glint that danced in his eyes as a genuine smile spread across his face.
Nothing good ever came of Broc’s good humor.
"You will find out soon enough." He released her and turned to leave. Catriona heard him snicker. "You will get your due."
"Tell me what you know or I’ll see that what remains of your precious hair falls out by month's end." Catriona knew each of her five brothers’ weaknesses and Broc’s was his hair. Long admired by the lasses for its glossy ebon waves, now, at only eight and twenty, it was thinning rapidly.
Broc grimaced but turned back to face her. "Your betrothed" – the smile on his face turned to a sneer – "is to arrive a sennight hence. Three days more and you shall be married. We shall be rid of you."
Stunned, Catriona stared at him. "Who?" She hated that the word came out on a whisper.
"‘Tis a good question, that," Broc said. "There is only one clan in all the Highlands who is so desperate for an alliance as to accept Triona the Shrew as a bride."
"Who?" she asked once more, her voice firmer now as she glowered at Broc. He was dangerously close to smiling again. "Who!"
The smile crashed across his face and she wanted to smash a fist into it but she had never been successful against her brothers that way and she needed to know her destiny. With a huge effort she held her fists at her sides, digging her fingernails into her palms.
"Who am I to wed, Broc?" her voice dripped with the contempt she felt for this brother, but she knew he would not recognize it for what it was; he was too dense, too concerned with his torment of her to see it.
"Should be Da who tells you–"
"'Twould be a pity if you lost the rest of your hair. 'Tis the only thing the lasses like about you."
She cocked an eyebrow at him in perfect imitation of his favorite expression when he had her in a corner.
"Very well, I shall tell you," he growled, "but you will do naught to make my hair fall out."
Catriona nodded. She had had no hand in his loss so far so 'twas an easy promise to make.
"‘Tis a MacDonell lad who has agreed to take you." His voice was nonchalant, as if he spoke of the weather, but the malice was back in his eyes.
Catriona felt the blood drain from her cheeks and she was suddenly cold to her bones. "Nay, ‘tis not..."
At Broc’s huge grin and quick nod her knees went weak but she knew better than to allow him to see how horribly his news struck her. She pushed past him, almost daring him to grab her so she could react as she had as a child, all fists and feet, flailing away at his tenderest spot. But 'twas a long time since she could get away with such behavior. Frustration shook her and she raced for her father’s chamber as Broc chased her down the corridor.
"Father!" she yelled as she neared the chief’s chambers.
Ignoring the closed door, she shoved it open and strode straight for the slight, gray man sitting behind a table, squinting at a parchment filled with tiny marks.
"Broc must cease baiting me or I will not be held responsible if he can no longer father an heir."
Without looking up Neill MacLeod answered her. "Wheesht, Triona, I am figuring."
Catriona huffed, but stood her ground. 'Twas not unusual to be ignored by her father.
"Broc says I'm to be married off to that dog-faced son-of-a-MacDonell."
Her father continued to ignore her as he silently mouthed the numbers he was laboriously adding up.
Still he mouthed the numbers.
It was ever so with him, attending to the minutiae of inventories, the petty squabbles of the clan. Never did he give her the same level of attention. In desperation, she picked up the ink well he was absently reaching toward with his quill and held it out of his reach.
"Triona! Damn it girl! Now I've forgotten the number I need to write down."
"Seven hundred thirty-one." She held the ink for him to dip his quill into, then waited while he slowly wrote the number. When he was done writing and before he could start adding more numbers she said, "Broc says you will marry me to Dogface MacDonell."
Broc chuckled behind her. "His name is Duff MacDonell, and he is their chief. 'Tis a good match for you, Triona."
She swung round to face him only to find three more brothers ranged behind him. Callum, Gowan and Jamie tended to travel in a pack. They were stair-stepped in height, hair ranging from a rusty brown to nearly as black as Broc's, and their expressions were always that of placid sheep, which was how Catriona tended to think of them. Now they were a step behind Broc, as usual. Only Ailig, the youngest son and her occasional ally against the others, was not present. This, too, was no surprise as his way of dealing with their eldest sibling was mostly to avoid him.
"I was not speaking to you," she said, glaring at Broc with contempt. She went around the table, the better able to command her father's attention.
"You ken I will not marry him. I'll not bend to the likes of Dogface MacDonell!"
"Nor anyone, it would seem, daughter."
"Bending serves no purpose. You bend to no one. My brothers do not. Why should I?"
"There is bending and there is choosing. You have done neither. You do not bend to my will, yet neither do you choose a husband. What am I to do with such a willful child?"
"I am not willful." She chose to ignore the raised eyebrows of every man in the room. "I simply will not be sacrificed."
"We are not sacrificing you."
"Nay," Broc said under his breath, but still loud enough for her to hear, "we are gladly giving you away." One of the sheep snorted.
Triona gripped the inkwell tightly, fighting the urge to hurl it at Broc's smug face. Instead she slammed it down on the table, then belatedly remembered the stopper wasn't in it. Ink fountained up and she reached out and caught most of it in her cupped hands before it could do more than splatter the parchment full of numbers.
"Triona!" Her father whisked the parchment out of danger. Her brothers chuckled. She glared at them as ink dripped from between her clenched fingers, splattering on the now empty table top.
"What's so funny?" Her brother Ailig, youngest but for her, entered the chamber, pushing past the sheep. He took one step into the room and seemed to immediately grasp what had happened. He grabbed a rag from a table near the door and set it where Catriona could let the rest of the ink run into it.
"Nice catch." He smiled at her but the smile stopped short of his eyes and his voice sounded weary.
This was her favorite brother, indeed the only one she liked, fair-haired and unlike the others as much in manner as in appearance.
"Who's done what to whom this time?" Ailig looked first at Catriona, then at Broc and the other brothers still ranged behind him.
"You have not told Ailig?" She directed this to her father. "Were you afraid he would tell me?"
"Nay. Broc has spoken out of turn," Neill said, sending a stern look at his eldest. "We were to announce the betrothal at the evening meal."
Shock coursed through her for the second time this morning.
"You were not going to tell me until you announced this before the entire clan?" She wiped her hands on her gown leaving long black streaks of ink on the amber fabric. Neill studied the parchment he held safely in his hands.
"I will not marry him," she said as much to herself as to anyone else in the chamber. She turned to her father, her gown gripped in her ink-stained fists. "If you make me, I'll... I'll... I'll stab him in his sleep. Then you'll have trouble on your hands!"
"Triona–" her father reached out but she evaded him and fled the room. Broc’s self-satisfied chuckle followed her down the empty corridor.
About the Author:
Laurin Wittig has been fascinated with all things Scottish ever since she was ten years old and heard the skirl of a bagpipe at her first American Clan Gregor Society gathering. She later discovered Scottish romances and knew she had to write one, so she packed her bags, left her family at home (for a week) and hied herself off to the auld country to be inspired… errr… do research. Now she lives in Virginia with two more-or-less grown kids, Anna the Eskie, and her husband who refuses, under any circumstances, to EVER wear a kilt.
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