To Love a Highland Rogue
Heart of a Scot Series, #1
“A lively writing style and detailed story lines are the mark of this truly excellent writer.” ~USA Today Bestselling Author Kathryn LeVeque
She’s determined to end her betrothal, but he must make her his, no matter the cost.
As an infant, Mayra Findlay’s hand was pledged in marriage to Logan Rutherford by order of the king. She’s only seen Logan once since; when they were still young children. Over the years, she’s written him several times, asking that he petition the king to end their troth, but Logan never responds. However, after a chance encounter with an irresistible rogue she can’t stop thinking about, nor stop secretly meeting, Mayra is resolute she’ll marry for love. Though it’s risky, she initiates a bold scheme that’s certain to force Logan to call off their union.
Until Laird Logan Rutherford returned to Scotland and inherited a near bankrupt estate, he had no intention of wedding the lass he was betrothed to as a wee lad. He’d planned to honor Mayra’s ever more demanding requests to dissolve their marriage contract, but now he must have her dowry to save his beloved Lockelieth Keep. One day, he prevents Mayra from taking a nasty tumble, and he’s immediately intrigued with the intelligent lass.
Mayra doesn’t recognize Logan, and after she reveals her utter contempt for her betrothed, he impulsively assumes his cousin’s identity. A decision that soon has Logan snared in a tangled web of deceit, because he’s fallen in love with Mayra.
Buy this first book in the Heart of a Scot Series for a gripping, emotional, Highland adventure you won’t want to put down.
Though this book is part of a series, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.
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“Collette has a great writing style that engages the reader. I love reading her stories and am looking forward to the next one.” ★★★★★ ~Cynthia
“… witty sense of humor create[s] a fantastic story of finding love in unlikely places.” ★★★★★ ~Dee
“The characters were lovable & approachable, making the story even more endearing. It has definitely left a lasting impression on me.” ★★★★★ ~Jonel
“I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading.” ★★★★★ ~Shawna
“…humor and witty repertoire, you are caught up in the story from page one.” ★★★★★ ~Lori
“I can’t get enough of the author’s sense of romance as well as sense of humor.” ★★★★★ ~Tricia
“A very good story line, well written, fun and excellent characters make this a perfect book…” ★★★★★ ~Lesia
“…heart-warming and humorous Highland romance…” ★★★★★ ~Peggy
Dunrangour Tower, Scottish Highlands
6 September, 1701
“Logan, my boy, ye sign here.” Artair Rutherford pointed to an empty space below his and laird Roderick Findlay’s bold, slanted signature.
Ach, cow turds.
Despite his frustration, Logan obediently propped his battered toy sword against the table’s leg, and after carefully dipping the quill into the inkwell, lifted his uncertain gaze to his father.
“Me full name, Da?”
“And when I do, it means I must wed her? When I’m a mon?” He pointed the quill at a wee lassie in an elaborate wooden cradle, gnawing on her wet fist.
“Aye, lad.” Inclining his head, Da patted Logan’s shoulder, the gesture more prodding than reassuring. “She’ll be yer wife.”
Logan sucked in his cheeks and crimped his mouth. “I dinna want to get married.”
What need have I for a wife? Da disna have one.
“It’s a good match. A brilliant one, truth to tell.” Bending over a little, Da peered intently into his eyes. “But more importantly, son, the union benefits Scotland.”
Findlay, Dunrangour’s giant of a laird, snorted loud as a draft horse and shook his shaggy blond mane. “So say some.”
Logan gulped and took a reflexive step backward.
“Ever heard such a colossal jobby before, Fergus and Hamish?” Findlay bit out, his jaw muscles jumping.
Such a pile of shite?
The stupid match or the benefitin’ Scotland part?
A pair of Dunrangour clansmen acting as witnesses, their flinty gazes unyielding and faces granite hard, grunted and smirked in agreement.
“And o’ course, Mayra’s dowry—particularly the land portion—be of nae interest to ye, be it, Rutherford? But, ye cannae touch either yet, can ye? No’ until our children actually wed. And then it’ll be the lad’s to do with as he pleases, no’ yers. How that must set yer teeth on edge and stick in yer greedy craw.”
Findlay’s low chuckle, more sinister than humorous, filled the tense silence. Satisfaction, or mayhap even gloating, tinged his words and ignited his vivid blue eyes.
Da said Dunrangour’s laird was descended from the barbaric Norsemen, and Logan could well believe it.
“Asinine requirin’ me to provide half of the lass’s marriage settlement now. Reeks of extortion.” Findlay’s hefty glower encompassed Da and Mr. Hyde, the king’s agent.
Logan scrunched his forehead and mouth, gazing between the angry laird and his gentle lady.
Didn’t they want this troth thing either?
As a lad, he couldn’t disobey Da’s order, but they were grown-ups. And adults could do what they wanted.
Why didn’t they just say no then?
Reddish brows drawn into such a severe vee they almost touched, Da glared hard at Findlay until Logan’s tugging on his coat finally drew his father’s attention.
“What’s a cowry, Da?”
“Dowry.” His father’s stern features softened a wee bit. “It’s a token promisin’ ye and the lass will wed.”
A sneer curled Findlay’s mouth as he crossed his thick arms and planted a bulging shoulder against the fireplace. “I’d call it extortion and a forced match between a wee six-year-old lad and an infant lass.”
“Give careful thought to yer words, Findlay. Some might consider them and yer attitude treasonous. Ye wouldn’t want a hint of anythin’ untoward to reach His Majesty’s ears.” Mr. Hyde, tsked disapprovingly, his eyes gone squinty and suspicious. His pointy nostrils even twitched in reproach.
Like a giant wharf rat.
Logan pinched his nose and pointed his face away. Reeking of dirty feet, stale sweat, and rotting teeth, the agent stank worse than Leith’s docks.
“Go ahead, sign,” Da urged Logan. “We needs be on our way.”
Mutiny pounded against Logan’s ribs, and he thrust out his lower lip.
Something about this didn’t feel right—made him slightly afraid and his tummy waffy.
Like when he awoke during the middle of the night and the castle was too quiet. Too ghostly and strange. And he lay alone in his chamber with only his sword and a carved dog for protection. Too scared to move or get up, but just as terrified to stay buried beneath the weighty bedcoverings.
“Why do I have to marry her? Why cannae someone else?” Logan veered the fretting bairn a troubled glance, and leaning toward Da, whispered, “She’s no’ verra bonnie.”
“Yer king asks it of ye, lad. As do I.” Da indicated where Logan should sign again.
So he must marry a strawberry-faced, slobbering baby for a prissy king he’d never met?
Logan wasn’t supposed to swear, but he could think oaths with no one the wiser. And right now, he wanted to think whole bunches of them.
Bloody hell. Blister and damn. God’s toenails.
Bampot. Diddy. Scunner.
Shite. Shite. Shite!
What would Da do if Logan stomped his feet and hollered, “Nae,” at the top of his voice or threw the quill on the floor, mashing it beneath his foot, cursing all the while?
If he was required to wed that red-faced bairn, shouldn’t he have something in return?
“Can I have a puppy then?” Logan skewed a hopeful brow and chewed the side of his lower lip.
He really, really wanted a puppy, but Da always stalled, saying mayhap when he was older. And older never, ever … ever came.
Logan squared his shoulders and jutted his chin. “If’n I be old enough to become—“What was the word?—“be…trussed, then I’m old enough to have me own dog.”
“Be-trothed,” Mr. Hyde muttered beneath his breath, stressing each syllable. “The word is Be. Trothed. And the nerve of the lad. Askin’ for a mongrel when he should be thankin’ His Majesty for the honor he’s bestowed upon the boy.”
Mr. Hyde shook his head and tsked reproachfully again.
Showed what the cranky auld tosspot knew, comparing honor to a puppy. Lads didn’t play with honor. Or have it curl up in their beds and keep them warm. Or lick their giggling faces until they gasped for air.
Logan held his breath, afraid Da would say no. Again.
But this time Da laughed, his smile folding his face clear to the corners in amusement, and even Findlay’s lips twitched a mite.
“Aye, ye can have yer puppy. Now sign the document. We need to depart soon if we’re to make the first lodgin’ house before nightfall.” Dad closed the dowry chest’s lid, and after securing the lock, tucked the key into his sporran.
Logan murmured each of his five names, Logan Greer Wallace Robert Rutherford, as he laboriously wrote them, remembering to carefully shape the letters as his tutor demanded. Only the nib scritching against the crisp parchment and the bairn’s coos interrupted the eerie calm entombing the great hall.
Once he’d finished, Mr. Hyde all but snatched the quill from Logan’s hand and proceeded to scribble his name, sprinkle sand atop the ink, and lastly, affix a fancy seal to the scarlet wax at the bottom.
“Can I play with Coburn now, Da?”
Beaming in a very pleased way Logan had never seen before, his father dipped his square chin.
“As soon as ye say yer farewells and give the lass the gift ye brought, ye can play with yer cousin.”
Logan opened his pouch, and sticking his tongue between his teeth, fished around in his sporran for the pin. He’d assumed it was a present for Lady Findlay when Da asked him to carry the heart-shaped, crown-topped token. Once he’d pulled the piece free, he turned it over and picked out a bit of fuzz—probably from his plaid—from the bright blue stone in the center.
“It matches her eyes.” He extended the Luckenbooth brooch.
The bairn snatched it from his hand and promptly stuffed the scrolled end into her mouth. However, Lady Findlay gently took the clasp from her daughter.
“Nae, sweeting. Ye’ll hurt yerself.”
Her voice sounded funny and tight, as if she tried not to cry.
Grabbing his wooden sword, Logan made to join Coburn. Barely one year older and often mistaken for his twin, his cousin was also his best friend.
“Logan?” Lady Findlay’s lyrical voice stopped him.
Holy rotten haddock.
Eager to find Coburn, and slay all manner of mythical beasts from dragons to trows, Logan fingered the sword’s smooth hilt and slowly faced her.
Her ladyship offered him a brave, if somewhat wobbly smile.
“I ken ye be young, and ye dinna fully understand what has transpired here today. But I ask ye to be kind to Mayra, to no’ hurt her—to keep her from harm. And someday, perhaps, ye can come to love her. Can ye promise me that, Logan?”
After coming to stand before Lady Findlay, he cocked his head.
“Aye, m’lady. I surely can.”
Bracing his hands on his upright sword, Logan peered into the cradle.
Covered in lacy stuff, the infant gurgled, waved her chubby fists, and blinked her big blue eyes. Whitish bumps covered her face, and drool ran from one corner of her slobbery mouth.
He pinched his features tighter.
“Why’s her face all puckered? And riddy and blotchy?” He touched his own smooth cheeks while eyeing her doubtfully. “Are ye sure the bairn is a lassie? She has nae hair.”
Just like Mr. Hyde—bald as a stone or a goose egg.
“Aye, Mayra is a lass.” Lady Findlay lifted the wee one from the cradle, and after arranging the bairn on her lap, brushed her fingers across the lass’s head. “She’s fair, like her father. It may take a while, but she’ll have hair. Would ye like to hold her?”
Logan shook his head and backed away. Horror of horrors. He’d rather cuddle a selkie or a kelpie. He never wanted to hold or touch the wriggling bairn.
“I would have an oath from ye too, lad.” Findlay went to one muscled knee before him, and still Logan had to crane his neck to meet the laird’s eyes.
By jiminy, he’s huge. Way bigger than Da.
“Court my wee lass beforehand,” Findlay said. “And wait until she’s passed her twentieth birthday to wed.”
“Now see here,” Mr. Hyde spluttered, his eyebrows writhing like great, giant, fuzzy gray worms. “That’s no’ part of the settlement.”
“Nae age nor courtship restrictions were specified, Hyde. Sloppy on yer part.” Findlay’s frigid smile nailed the nasty wee man to the hall’s paneled wall.
Dunrangour’s laird leaned in and whispered in Logan’s ear. “And when ye are an adult, and if’n ye dinna want to marry Mayra, petition the monarchy to grant ye a reprieve. I shall ask, too, if that’s what ye want. But ye needs return her dowry else she cannae marry another.”
Logan veered a brief glance to the squirming infant. Not have to marry that blotchy-faced lass? Aye, that Logan could promise.
“Sir, it shall be as ye request.”