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Once upon a time, in a land far, far away…well, Scotland…Rose lived tucked away from the world with her aunt. Orphaned as a baby and adopted by her aunt, she’s used to her eccentric ways—including her overprotectiveness. But Rose wants more from life. However, she never quite expected for Laird Hamish McTavish—complete with kilt—to change things. The brash, and admittedly braw, man is hardly like the charming men Rose has been dreaming of.
Freshly returned from the battlefield with an unexpected inheritance, highlander Hamish is struggling enough to fit in at the sleepy lowland village. When he comes across a feisty young woman with wild hair and a brash tongue on his land, he doesn’t expect it to lead to more than a five-minute argument.
But he cannot help himself. His curiosity is piqued. Who is this young woman surrounded by three slightly-crazed elderly women seemingly intent on keeping her from the world? He must find out more.
Unfortunately, there are several people more than willing to get in the way of that aim. Rose’s aunt for one—not to mention his late-cousin’s mistress who is determined to replace one cousin with the other. Not only must Hamish deal with his duties and find a way to get close to Rose, he must also find a way to get rid of this abhorrent woman…before she does anything truly evil.
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Something amongst the grass caught his attention. He paused and peered at it. Not a dog to be certain. He moved closer. A woman. Closer still. No, a girl. He tilted his head. A sort of girl. A girl-woman perhaps. She had the figure of a woman, to be certain. Even lying down, he could see there were ample breasts and some curvaceous hips. However, her face was far too girl-like with a petite mouth, small nose, and pale lashes and eyebrows. Her hair was technically fair but not as light as the few fair women he knew who likely had a little help from cosmetics to get that bright, light look.
Of course, he was able to observe all this at his leisure because she was sleeping. Fully and completely asleep. He looked at the basket at her side to see a small joint of ham. Why the devil was this young woman picnicking on her own with a mere slab of ham?
He coughed. Hamish supposed he could have let her sleep on but it did not seem safe to leave her out here all alone where anyone could do anything to her.
Not to mention, he was wildly curious about this woman. He had only been in Scotland mere weeks, but he had met a few of the local families and his tenants, and she certainly was not one of them. He would have remembered.
He coughed again.
Lashes fluttered and mossy green eyes stared up at him. A crease appeared between her brows, and she jerked up to sitting. “Who are you?” Her gaze raked him from head to toe, making him far too aware of his traditional Highland garb that had no place in the lowlands.
“Who are ye?” he demanded.
Her scowl deepened and she stood, snatching up her basket as though he might be very interested in her lone piece of ham.
“I asked first.”
“But yer the trespasser.”
“I certainly am not!”
Those mossy green eyes were not so mossy when they stared up at him. In fact, they were becoming more interesting by the moment, and he’d certainly never been interested in moss. Dark green at the center, radiating out to an almost sea green, then finished with a ring of dark color that he supposed had given him that plant-like impression.
She peered at him as though he was crazed, and he realized he was staring into them for too long.
“Yer on my land,” he stated.
Yet again, her gaze ran the length of him. He’d never been so aware of his height and stature before. In battle, his oversized body had been useful—apart from when it came to ducking bullets. But now he felt like an ogre or a giant, come to feast on this wee little lass.
However, though there was certainly distrust in her gaze, she did not seem frightened of him. In fact, she raised her chin and directed her challenging stare at him.
“This is the land of the Laird of Baleith.”
She tilted her head. “The laird is six and fifty years.”
“Aye. He died several weeks ago.”
“He did?” Her eyes widened and she took a stumbling step back. He instinctively reached for her and helped her straighten, but she shook off his touch.
He flexed the hand that had met her skin. A mild burning sensation had struck him the instant they had touched. He tried to shake it from his mind but he could still feel it, still recall the softness of her skin.
Hamish opted for looking over her head. Golden strands of hair curled from it in wild disarray. What had once been a braid now looked to be a misshaped wodge of hair. Slightly brighter strands curled around her face, drawing attention to the pointed chin and tightly-pressed together lips.
Damnation, now he was looking at her mouth.
He forced his attention back to her eyes. Aye, they were far too intriguing but if he continued on the path he was on, he’d end up staring at her figure and he could not allow that.
“The laird had a fall. He died from his injuries unfortunately.”
“I did not know.”
“Well now you do.”
“But why would I not know?”
“I’m not sure. Do ye know all that goes on around here? Forgive me for not telling ye as soon as he hit his death bed,” he said, his tone dry.
“There’s no need to be rude. I am just sure my aunt would have known.”
“I can be as rude as I like, lass. Yer standing on my land.”
“You cannot really be a laird. No laird would speak in such a manner.”
Whoever this stranger was, it was apparent she felt she should know all that occurred on his private land. He chuckled. “Well this one does.”