The Queen's Highlanders #3
May 13, 2023
Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
Available in: Paperback, Audio, e-Book


Bloody Hell! He abducted the wrong woman!

Daughter of a traitor, Cordelia Cranfield seeks her freedom by proving her loyalty to the English crown. Since she looks like a young version of the great Tudor queen, she agrees to stand in for her on a delicate mission. But the simple masquerade turns treacherous when a Highlander, working for the French, abducts her, thinking her the great Queen Elizabeth I.

Spy for Scotland, Marcus Ruthven has been tasked with infiltrating the French to rescue the English queen, whisking her away to Scotland so she can be thankful and name King James her heir. Marcus ignores the warning signs that this woman is too young and lovely to be Elizabeth Tudor because she’s also clever and courageous, and Marcus is desperate to succeed. They work together to evade the French as well as their growing attraction. One can’t just tup a queen no matter how good she feels in his arms.

When Cordelia is revealed, the dam she and Marcus held against their passion for one another, shatters. Missions ruined, emotions raw, they must work together now to save the real queen. But remaining secrets surface, all masks come off, and Cordelia doesn’t know if she can trust the spy who has stolen her heart.

He resembled the mountains of the Scottish landscape, hard and rugged, meant only for the truly adventurous to climb.

Lifting the bar on the door required her to put the bundle on the floor, but she managed to do all of that, including setting the wooden slab on the floor, with barely a whisper. A quick glance at Marcus showed him still breathing slowly, his back to her. She exhaled in relief, stopping the sound by snapping her lips shut, and slipped out the door.

She glanced once more at him lying there. Would she ever see Marcus Blythe again? Would she discover that he too was a traitor, bent on capturing Elizabeth, like Johnathan Whitt had been? Hopefully his head wouldn’t sit rotting on a pike. It was a most handsome head. Fool, she chided herself, and lowered the latch with the utmost care. Turning around, she paused.

White crystals coated the world in sparkling splendor. The sun breeched the horizon through the trees, casting gold over the snow and ice that clung to the logs of the cabin and barn. Every tree limb, from the thickest to the thinnest, was encased in icy sleeves. Everything sparkled. The morning was silent, all noises muted by the heavy snowfall. The magnificence of it all caught her breath. She would stay there mesmerized by nature’s glorious beauty if she didn’t have to warn the queen and save her own head.

Cordelia stepped off the porch and cringed at the crunch of her boot. The snow had a layer of ice on top, giving the hills a smooth coating like sugared paste over cakes. The crunching noise couldn’t be helped, and she was losing time. Cordelia lifted her skirts, thankful once again for Lord Morton sending woolen clothing, including woolen hose, and ran across the field to the barn.

Looking straight ahead, Cordelia didn’t see the white line tied across the yard until it hit her shins. She lost her balance. With arms flying out, she fell over the cord into the snow, the blanket tumbling out of her hold. Frozen, sharp snow hit her face and filled her mouth, eyes, and nose. Behind her, the sound of pots hitting the floor inside the cabin made her push up and flop over onto her back. She spit snow out of her mouth and wiped her hands over her ice-washed face, pinching her nose, as the cabin door banged open.

“God’s teeth,” she whispered as foot falls thudded toward her. There was no way to beat Marcus to the stables, so she lay there, arms and legs spread wide in helpless impotence and guilt.

Her breath puffed up from her lips in little white clouds to disappear against the lightening sky. She continued to watch it grow bluer by the second with the dawn. The glorious morning view was broken by Marcus’s face stopping to stare down at her. His wavy hair was ruffled, having dried in odd curls, and his eyes were wide with incredulity. They were a warm brown color, like rich soil.

“What the bloody hell are ye doing?” he asked.

She huffed and took a moment to inhale. “’Twas so beautiful I thought I’d…make angels in the snow.” She moved her arms up and down, pushing the thick, brittle snow to make a pattern of wings like she and Lucy used to do as children in the yard behind Cranfield House.

Marcus crossed his arms over his chest that was only covered by the tunic he’d worn to sleep. He hadn’t bothered with the wrap around his hips, but the tunic kept his modesty. The breeze teased the edge as if it might blow upward. He must have slept with his stockings and boots on but had removed the furs. Lord help her, he was brawny. The dream she’d had was still heating her blood, even though she laid in the frozen snow. “Aren’t you cold?” she asked from her position, her arms stilling out to her sides.

“I think ye were trying to leave on your own,” he said and reached a hand down to help her up.

Without dislodging him the slightest with her weight, he lifted her easily out of the snow. Brawny and strong. He was probably radiating heat too. His hand wiped at the snow coating her back and front, grazing her arse. Moving away before she did something insane like lean into him, she threw her arm out to the pattern. “See, an angel in the snow.”

“Yer Majesty,” he said with a frown. “Were ye trying to leave on yer own?”

Cordelia planted hands on her hips. “Of course, I was trying to leave, you foolish knave.” Elizabeth liked to call people knaves, and Cordelia made her tone very condescending.

“On your own, ye’ll be captured by the French or eaten by wolves,” Marcus said. “So if anyone is acting the fool this morn, ‘tis ye, Yer Majesty.”

Cordelia’s stomach growled, and she pointed a finger at it. “My royal belly is also empty, so unless you have more food stashed away somewhere, we need to find some in a village.” She crossed her arms to mimic his battle stance. “The good people of England will feed me.”

back to Top

Mistaken Identities & Undeniable Heat

He resembled the mountains of the Scottish landscape, hard and rugged, meant only for the truly adventurous to climb.