To Bargain with a Highland Buccaneer
Heart of a Scot Book 8
His heart would never be his to give. Not again.
Bryston McPherson lost everything the night his wife was murdered. Now all he wants is peace—a respite from the grief and guilt that have haunted him since that night. Then a fiery Highlander bursts into his life, bringing with her the kind of excitement and happiness he was sure he’d never feel again. He doesn’t deserve her. But that doesn’t stop him from wishing everything was different…and that he could claim her for his own.
Branwen Glanville’s life took a very unexpected turn when she met Bryston. She never imagined she’d end up spirited away to the former buccaneer’s ship, fearing for her life—and his. And she certainly never thought she’d fall for the surly Scot who saved her from certain death. But…she did. Too bad he seems so intent on remaining alone and miserable forever…
Is a fairy tale, happily ever after ending possible for these polar opposites? Maybe. If Bryston can keep Branwen alive long enough to claim it, that is…
Sexy Scots, spies, and secret treasures. This sigh-worthy Scottish historical will have you sitting on the edge of your chair to see if Bryston and Branwen find their hard-won happily ever after.
If you love reading romantic, page-turning Scottish Historical love stories brimming with mystery and suspense, a dash of humor, and alpha male Highlanders, then you’ll adore the intriguing HEART OF A SCOT Series. Buy TO BARGAIN WITH A HIGHLAND BUCCANEER and be prepared to stay up late reading a rousing Highland adventure you can’t put down.
InD’Tale Magazine Crown of Excellence ★★★★★ Review
“A five star page-turner that sets Collette Cameron in a Highlander league of her own.”
See what readers are saying!
“Passion danger and love make this a thrilling read…I loved it!” ★★★★★ ~ Kristin Nielsen
“Collette weaves a tale that will leave you wanting more. The story has the right amount of adventure and romance to balance it out. Another great story.” ★★★★★ ~ Gina Johnson
“There is so much to this story, definitely loved it and definitely recommend reading it!” ★★★★★ ~ Standygirl
:…what a page turning finale. I thought all my dreams had come true a Highland pirate, sorry privateer, who looks like a Viking with long blond hair, where’s my fan!” ★★★★★ ~ Janet
“The story is exciting and the characters are rich and engaging. The story moves along at a good pace but still manages to have a depth and texture to it.” ★★★★★ ~ Betty J H
“The characters are charming. The tale is unique and heartwarming. The hero and heroine are a true love match.” ★★★★★ ~ Beverly
An exciting action-packed story that rounds off a wonderful series. Each book in the series can be read on its own, but it’s fun to follow the families. Great fun. ★★★★★ ~ Petula Winmill
“Tons of adventure in this little read.” ★★★★★ ~ Beth Meador
“Collette Camron has given us another wonderful novel full of intrigue, loyalty, revenge and of course love!” ★★★★★ ~ Cindy W.
“The story has well developed, likable characters. It has a plot with suspense, mystery, intrigue, and action on the high seas.” ★★★★★ ~ Redshoes51
12 April 1721
Branwen Glanville couldn’t prevent the slight shiver parading the length of her spine as she craned her neck, studying what was left of Holyrood Abbey’s majestic chapel. Though sunny—the sky, a bright blue—the crisp air held an unmistakable chill.
Not at all uncommon for coastal Scotland—any part of Scotland, for that matter.
And yet, as accustomed as she was to Scotland’s less than genial clime, another shudder rippled through her. Almost—aye, almost—as if in premonition of something sinister or ominous.
Holding her hood in place against the persistent, briney breeze tugging at the soft material, she glanced around the sun-drenched grounds. The golden rays shining through the remnants of the church’s elaborate entrance cast striking shadows on the lush green lawns spread out below.
Nothing struck her as odd or drew her attention despite the overall atmosphere of melancholy and decades of awed reverence permeating the holy remains.
So why then, couldn’t she shake this unwarranted sense of unease?
A dozen or so other people besides her family wandered the ruins as the mischievous breeze toyed with the long blades of verdant grass, plump, newly budded leaves, and the hem of her cloak with impartial precociousness.
Drawing her dark plum-colored velvet cloak tighter, she squinted at a rook, watching her from atop an elaborately constructed arched stone wall. The light glinted off the bird’s glossy plumage, an almost metallic blue hue to its black wings. It dipped its head, rubbing its beak several times against the pale stone before flying off amid raucous squawks.
Probably to join its family or mayhap feed its young. In the distance, she watched as four other rooks joined the first. As they arched and spiraled their way through the sky, another three flew in to loudly meet them.
Unlike many people, she didn’t believe crows, ravens, or rooks portended evil. In fact, she admired the species for their intelligence, cleverness, and dedication to their families.
Mayhap she was partial to them because her name meant blessed or fair raven, depending on which Welsh translation one preferred.
She squinted at the birds as they became smaller and smaller, eventually fading from sight in the distance. Although, now that she pondered on it, a gathering of crows was called a murder and a group of ravens a conspiracy.
Crows and ravens arena rooks, she chided herself.
Nae, but they are related.
Shaking her head once to dismiss her silly ruminations, Branwen returned her regard to the once glorious hallowed building.
Farther along the impressive bones of the abbey, Branwen’s guardian, Keane Buchannan, the Duke of Roxdale, holding his stepdaughter Cora’s hand and his wife, Marjorie, holding her other daughter, Elana’s hand, inspected a pair of empty stone coffins.
Many decades before—perhaps centuries even—nameless marauders had desecrated the graves, possibly in search of a valuable bauble or two. Or perchance, the vaults had been plundered during the Reformation when one religious order believed itself superior to another.
That ideology hadn’t changed much in the centuries since, truth be told.
It mattered naught why the burial places had been ransacked, but Branwen felt a peculiar sense of pity for the dead who hadn’t been permitted a peaceful eternal slumber. Even as fascinated as she was with history, it didn’t seem right to disturb the deceased simply out of curiosity.
She gave a little roll of her shoulder.
What was done was done.
She trailed her gaze over the well-maintained grounds once more. Though only a mere shadow of its former splendor, the abbey possessed an eerie beauty as well as an aura of sadness. The passage of time had been much kinder to the adjacent palace.
Giving herself another mental shake for her morose musings on such a lovely day, Branwen raised her face to the sun. Allowing her eyelids to lower, she inhaled the refreshing air. It held the tang of the sea but also the pungent scent of freshly cut grass and the faintest fragrance of fruit tree blossoms wafting from the palace gardens.
Though Edinburgh was scarcely two miles away, Leith’s air was far cleaner. No dingy, soot-laden cloud lingered overhead, blanketing all and sundry in choking gray, in large part due to the persistent winds blowing inland from the Firth of Forth.
Girlish giggles carried to her on that same insistent wind, and she opened her eyes, sweeping her mouth upward.
Elana and Cora were thoroughly enjoying today’s outing. Grinning, exposing the front tooth she’d lost but two days ago, Cora waved at Branwen as she skipped beside her new papa, pointing at one thing or another.
Keane nodded with an appropriate amount of interest and genuine affection.
Branwen waved back, smiling in return.
She adored Marjorie’s daughters, and Marjorie, too. She was the older sister, Branwen, and her sister, Bethea, had never had. Sweet-tempered, patient, but with a will of iron, she’d made a brilliant duchess. But more importantly, she’d taken to Keane’s wards with genuine caring and friendship.
Branwen and her sister adored her.
At the thought of Bethea, Branwen’s chest tightened, and her breath caught as if someone had pulled her stays far too tight. Loneliness and no small amount of worry vied for supremacy in the tangled knots where her stomach ought to be.
At this very moment, her dear sister and her new husband, Camden Kennedy, were cloistered at Glen Tormallan Lodge—Keane’s hunting lodge outside Culloden—hiding from spies that had meant them harm.
All because in March, Branwen had injured her feet during an unfortunate dance with a cloddish lord, and Bethea had tried to help her. Branwen had craved the excitement of Edinburgh’s social life until that fateful night when her sister had been abducted after overhearing a plot to depose the king.
Thankfully, the spies had been apprehended, and Bethea and Camden were safe.
Now, however, Branwen found she far preferred the many historical sites in and around Edinburgh, as well as Leith’s fascinating seaport, to social gatherings. And she missed the Highlands craggy beauty more than she’d imagined possible.
Stepping over a rock, which likely had fallen from the abbey’s missing ceiling, Branwen mused to herself. She supposed as the daughter of a ship’s captain, perhaps a bit of mariner’s blood ran in her veins.
Until recently, she’d not thought a great deal about her father’s livelihood. After all, she’d been a wee lass of five when her parents had been lost at sea during a tempest.
Raised at Trentwick Castle, high in the Scottish Highlands, she’d never realized how much the ocean appealed to her. But the sound of the waves greeting the shore, the briskness of the playful breeze, and the strident calls of the sea birds touched something deep within her.
Stirred something. Awoken a hunger Branwen hadn’t known she possessed.
With a final glance at the abbey, she retraced her steps to the entrance and gazed in the direction of Leith’s docks. As much as she’d enjoyed poking around the church’s ruins, her real interest lay at the port, where the masts of ship after ship stood in the distance like faithful, nautical sentinels.
A yearning to board one of those vessels and sail into the sunset, headed for foreign lands, engulfed her. At the inexplicable longing, her breath and heart stalled for a heartbeat.
Such a wish was a fanciful dream. Keane held no interest in ever leaving Scotland. Marjorie, either, for that matter. She even abhorred travel by coach.
A small frown puckered Branwen’s brow.
Her guardian and his wife were as content to remain in Scotland their entire lives as mice in a well-stocked larder.
Pursing her mouth, she hunched further into her heavy cloak, wishing she’d worn a heavier woolen gown and shawl.
She hadn’t considered that after walking here, spending an hour or so poking around the ruins, and then walking into Leith before returning to Edinburgh, she might become chilled. That had been foolish of her, but she wasn’t about to complain or express her discomfort.
Keane had agreed—after considerable cajoling—that they might stroll the docks and admire the many ships in port, accompanied by Keane’s friend, Bryston McPherson. Bryston had recently returned from his mission in England. In point of fact, he’d been appointed to deliver one of the traitors responsible for Bethea’s abduction to His Majesty’s dungeons.
He was to meet them at eleven of the clock, the only reason Keane had agreed to Branwen’s request to explore the abbey and wharf.
A seafaring man himself, but also an agent for the crown, at six feet, four inches tall, and comparable in size to an oak tree, Bryston would act as their unofficial bodyguard and tour guide.
Oh, Branwen wasn’t fooled as to why Keane had asked Bryston to accompany them.
Scarred and tattooed, his Viking heritage on display for all to see, the Highland warrior fairly exuded power, strength, and intimidation. In truth, he’d frightened the stuffing out of her the first time she’d come upon him in the great hall eight years ago—before he’d acquired the scar that ran the length of his cheek now.
She’d been a gangly twelve-year-old in braids, and he a strapping nineteen-year-old, wilder than even the untamed Scots she’d become accustomed to. Then he’d winked and given her a crooked smile—an almost boyish grin—and her fear had dissipated as swiftly as fog upon a loch in the summer sun.
Bryston possessed stormy eyes—deterrents to unwanted conversation—a marble-like jaw, a mouth generally pulled into an unyielding, grim line, and a warrior’s sculpted form, which made men and women tremble.
The former in fear and the latter in feminine awareness.
Not that she suffered from such womanly afflictions.
Good heavens, nae.
Truth be known, men of his ilk paraded in and out of Trentwick regularly. She was hardly the sort of a woman to turn into a quivering custard at the site of a virile man’s flexing muscles or a beard-stubbled jawline.
However, with Bryston and Keane in attendance as they visited the wharf, no one with a lick of common sense would cast so much as a gimlet eye in Branwen and Marjorie’s direction today.
Naturally, even accompanied by two capable protectors, neither she nor Marjorie would be permitted to wander the unsavory lanes that always seemed to stretch out from dockyards, like great depraved vines.
Still, Bryston had advised Keane that there was a charming tavern on Abbey Strand, which provided a partial view of the harbor where they might partake in a midday meal before returning to Edinburgh this afternoon.
Branwen sighed as she reached the abby’s arched entrance and rested a shoulder against the nearly five centuries-old structure. She wasn’t sure what had plagued her of late, but a discontentment whirled through her at least once a day.
In general, it occurred when she permitted her mind to wander to her future and contemplated what her life would be like now that Bethea was married. Keane, too. She felt as if she were an unnecessary fifth wheel. No one would ever hint at any such thing, but what newlyweds wanted another person underfoot constantly?
Only, she wasn’t sure what it was she wanted. What, precisely, it was that she lacked or craved. Or why this new unrest seemed to expand daily. At Trentwick Castle, she’d believed it was because Keane had been so protective, rarely allowing her or Bethea to attend any functions.
He’d had his reasons, of course.
Good reasons, in truth.
His own mother had been set upon, ravished, and impregnated by a blackguard. Marjorie—bless the woman—had been instrumental in convincing him to relax his strictures and permit his wards this time in Edinburgh.
Undeniably, Branwen had enjoyed the balls, assemblies, and routs. Though, in all honesty, she’d found Edinburgh’s High Society somewhat less than cordial. Downright feral at times, if she were perfectly candid.
As she scanned the horizon, a tall, solidly built man caught her attention, and a queer fluttering began behind her breastbone as if a half dozen blue tits were trapped there before throttling to her throat.