Welcome to the castle bedchamber! This holiday season, get comfortable by the fire and read a little excerpt to help you stay warm.

The Rogue of Islay Isle

Rose and Cullen are sitting in a sleigh in a dark barn…

Pressing his mouth against her softly parted lips, Cullen held on to his last scrap of discipline. For days he’d thought of kissing her. His cousins’ advice to stay away had only fueled his thoughts of Rose, the fire he sensed under her composure, the strength of her spirit, the warmth and softness of her skin. Her hand came up to his chest. If she beat against him, he’d retreat immediately despite the marvelous feel of her lips. But her palms rested flat. With gentle guidance, he tipped her face to deepen the kiss.

“Cullen,” she whispered. Her breathy voice was the spark to Cullen’s brittle kindling, torching his discipline. Cullen’s arms crushed around her, drawing her across the small seat of the sled into his lap. He cupped her cheek, in awe of the smoothness. With a small noise somewhere in the back of her throat, Rose opened her mouth farther, inviting a taste of her sweetness. All thoughts of staying away, even the constant press to be the opposite of his gambling, irresponsible father, burned to ash in the inferno rushing through Cullen’s blood.

Rose lifted higher in his lap to wrap her arms around his neck. They slanted across each other’s mouths, delving and exploring, hands wandering in the darkness. Without sight, Cullen’s other senses sharpened, memorizing the brush of her loose curls against his cheek, the fresh scent of her hair, the sound of her rapid breathing mixing with his, the taste of her building passion. If her actions revealed her mind, Rose hungered for him as much as he did for her. Had she, too, spent the last four days imagining this kiss and more?

Cullen shot fingers through the silk of her hair, raking her hairpins free to fall on the sheepskin under them. She tipped back, giving him access to her sweet-smelling throat, and he trailed hot kisses down the slender column. Her fingers curled into his shoulders as she arched. He moved back up to claim her mouth again, cradling her head. For the moment, there was no English army camped across the strait, no judging uncles or oaths to protect the clan above all else. There was only the warm lass in his arms.

“Och, Rose,” he murmured against her lips. Cool fingers slid along his jawline to rest on his exposed neck. He groaned low in his throat as she ran her hand down his chest and wiggled her backside in his lap. Could she feel how much he wanted her? Reason was gone. The only two beings who remained in the world were Rose and him.

Behind him, the door of the barn opened again, and someone cleared his throat. Bloody hell and damnation. “Cull?” Broc’s voice cut through, and Cullen pulled back, letting Rose slide off his lap. “Your ma’s looking for ye. Something to do with hauling down the tapestries.”

Cullen held on to Rose’s hands and turned, putting her behind him so that Broc couldn’t see her.

“Thought I better get ye before she comes out here herself,” Broc continued, trying to peer into the shadows. “Sorry, lass,” he said. “I’m sure he can finish with ye later tonight.”

“Leave.” Cullen’s voice came more like a growl, but the arse just stood there, grinning.

“Glad to see ye getting your mind off your petit bit of trouble,” he said and turned, sliding the barn door closed behind him.

If Cullen could throw his cousin into an icy lake right now, he would. Even without looking, he could feel Rose withdraw.

He exhaled long. “Ye are not my petit bit of trouble,” he said. It was difficult to see her in the shadows, but she’d pressed her back against the far edge of the seat.

“No,” she said. “I am your grand mountain of trouble.” With unexpected agility, she hoisted herself up to stand on the sled’s seat.

“Rose?” He stood as she raised her skirts to step over the front of the curved dash, her slippers finding purchase on the sloped iron breeching shaft. “Ye’ll fall,” he said, jumping down to dodge to the front.

“I will do well on my own,” she snapped. She continued to inch her way down the front where it let off in a dark corner.

“Ye’re liable to step down into a rat’s den or into horse dung,” he warned and reached up for her.

She evaded his hand. “The barn is kept immaculate, and there are cats everywhere.”

“Damnation, Rose,” he said and caught her around the waist to set her on the dirt floor.

“I was fine,” she huffed, straightening her gown. She wrapped her shawl tightly around her shoulders. “You better find your mother.”

“Broc didn’t know it was ye in here.”

“I assumed that,” she said, the T being quite succinct. “But apparently, this is something you do regularly with other women.”

“Bloody hell.” This was ending terribly. He ran a hand through his hair. Indeed, chasing a pretty lass for a kiss had been his habit before he became chief…after as well, but not now. “Blast,” he cursed again.

“Go on.” She shooed him with a flick of her fingers. “Neither of us would want to be seen leaving together. You go out first and take Broc with you, since we both know he’s standing out there waiting to see which lass ye were dallying with in here.”

He frowned at her words. “Your imitation of our Scot’s tongue is lacking.”

“And you don’t have enough nose in your speech when you say petit bit of trouble,” she countered, her teeth clenched. The shadows hid the details of her rage, but her gestures flitted with graceful fury.

“We were enjoying each other,” he said. “And all that changed because Broc thought I might be with another woman?”


“Ye are jealous,” he said, eyebrows rising. “That I might love another.”

“You are a rogue. I would never be jealous of a woman who’s made the unfortunate decision to give her heart to a rogue.” She flapped her hand. “And love is only a child’s tale. There is no such thing.”

“No such thing as love?” he asked, surprised by her rejection of the feeling he thought all lasses longed for.

She pointed toward the door. When he didn’t move, she huffed, dropping her arm, and traipsed down the stalls past his steed, Jasper. “There must be another way out, even if I have to muck past the horses,” she murmured with bite. She continued in whispered French, her words sputtering.

“Even though I don’t understand ye,” he called quietly, “I can tell ye’re swearing. Very unladylike.”

“Tais toi,” she hissed and pushed through the narrow corridor beside the sheep pen.

Cullen couldn’t help his grin. He turned and slid the barn door open and then closed, striding toward Broc on the keep stairs.

Broc looked at Cullen and back at the barn. “Aren’t ye forgetting someone?” he asked.

“Get inside, ye arse,” Cullen said and dragged him by the arm into the entryway. “And keep your mouth shut. Every time ye say something, I get in trouble.”

Broc chuckled. “Trouble? If it’s trouble that’s brought back your good cheer, I’ll find ye more.”

“Bloody hell,” Cullen said, but smiled broadly. He’d had a taste of grand trouble, and he wanted more. She may have fled cursing and denying that love existed, but that didn’t change the fact that Rose was jealous.