by Lisa Berne
GENRE: Historical Romance
Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.
Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.
But there’s a high wall between them—and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.
It was Fiona Douglass’s seventy-first wedding.
To be precise, it was her seventy-first time attending a wedding.
When you belonged to a large and thriving clan, there were naturally a lot of weddings to go to and the total number was bound to be high, especially if you weren’t a giddy girl any longer, but — to put it politely — a lady of considerable maturity.
So: seventy-one weddings for Fiona.
The details had long begun to blur, of course, but there were certain ceremonies that stood out in her mind.
Today would be memorable because her youngest sister, Rossalyn, was getting married.
Two years ago, in this very church, a spectacular brawl had erupted at the altar when the bridegroom’s twin brother (already roaring drunk) had lunged forward, seized the hapless bride, and tried to carry her off. A wild melee ensued as several other men (also already drunk) had, with joyful shouts, joined in. Forty-five minutes later, the combatants subdued by brute force and the bride’s veil hastily repaired, the ceremony had proceeded without further incident, the chastened, bloodied twin the very first to warmly shake his brother’s hand.
It was also in this church that three years ago Fiona had attended the wedding of her younger sister Dallis.
Seven years ago, old Mrs. Gibbs, aged ninety-eight and heartily disliked by nearly everyone in the entire clan, had loudly expired just before the vows were spoken. The general agreement was that she’d done it deliberately in a last triumphant bid for attention, and that she was likely chuckling up in heaven (or down below in the other place) because afterwards, as her corpse was being removed, her pet ferret had crawled out from a pocket in her skirt and dashed up the towering headdress of a haughty dowager from Glasgow, from which vantage point it had leaped gracefully onto the shoulder of Fiona’s own mother, who had screamed and then fainted, sending the bride into hysterics and several small boys into paroxysms of noisy laughter, thereby provoking Fiona’s father, the mighty chieftain of clan Douglass, into a fury so awful that the wedding was quietly called off and no one dared to partake of the gargantuan feast laid out in the Great Hall, resulting, of course, in a great deal of secret rejoicing in the servants’ hall for at least three days after that. The ferret was never seen again.
Eight years ago, it had rained so hard during the wedding of Fiona’s cousin Christie that the church had begun to leak in (Fiona had counted) fourteen places and quite a few hats had been ruined.
And nine years ago — why, nine years ago Fiona had watched as her younger sister Nairna had married the love of her life.
The love of Fiona’s life.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Lisa Berne read her first Georgette Heyer book at fourteen, and was instantly captivated. Later, she was a graduate student, a grantwriter, and an investment banker, but is thrilled to be returning to her roots and writing her own historical-romance novels! She lives with her family in the Pacific Northwest.
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