Welp, I went to post this as a Waiting on Wednesday…and realized it was actually Thursday. So, a Thirsty Thursday post it is! Highland Wolf is a book I’ve been anticipating since the last book in the series was released and this one was announced. BTW, I LOVED this books so hard. Keep reading for a Chapter 1 excerpt and my full review!
Highland Wolf by Lynsay Sands
Series Highland Brides
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date January 25, 2022
New York Times Bestselling Author Lynsay Sands delivers another sexy historical romance set in the wilds of the Highlands
In all her daydreams about her wedding day, Lady Claray MacFarlane never once imagined being dragged to the altar by her greedy uncle and forced to marry a man she didn’t know. But that’s what happened, or would have, had a Highland warrior not snatched her up at the last minute and ridden off with her in his arms. . .
They call him the Wolf. The mercenary’s courage and prowess in battle are known throughout the Highlands, and with his handsome face and black-as-sin hair, he was as intelligent and deadly as the wolf he was named for…
But the Wolf is also Claray’s betrothed. Thought to have been killed as a child, he’d been in hiding all these years. Now he’s determined to earn enough coin to rebuild his home, reclaim his birthright, and honor his marriage contract to Claray. For he’s fallen for the tender-hearted lass…and he will do anything to protect her and their future together.
The excerpt for Lynsay Sand’s upcoming release (out on Jan 25th) is up!
Highland Wolf is the next book in the Highland Brides series featuring Claray MacFarlane and a character from the first book of the series, An English Bride In Scotland. In this scene we see Claray being hauled down to the church by her scheming uncle who’s planning to marry her off to a ruthless neighbor when the Wolf appears.
Claray was standing at the window, debating the merits of leaping to her death rather than marry Maldouen MacNaughton, when knocking at the door made her stiffen.
The loud banging sounded like a death knell. It meant her time was up. They’d come to take her to the chapel.
Claray’s fingers tightened briefly on the stone edging of the window, her body tensing in preparation of climbing up and casting herself out. But she could not do it. Father Cameron said that self-killing was a sin certain to land you in hell, and she was quite sure that ten or twenty years of hell on earth as MacNaughton’s wife were better than an eternity in the true hell as one of Satan’s handmaidens.
Shoulders sagging, Claray pressed her cheek to the cold stone and closed her eyes, silently sending up one last prayer. “Please God, if you can no’ see yer way clear to saving me from this . . . at least make me death quick.”
Another knock sounded, this one a much louder, more insistent pounding. Claray forced herself to straighten and walk to the door, brushing down the skirt of the pretty pale blue gown she wore as she went. She wasn’t surprised when she opened it to see her uncle Gilchrist framed by the two men he’d had guarding her door for the last three days since her arrival. She was a little surprised by the guilt that briefly flashed on his face though. It gave her a moment’s hope, but even as she opened her mouth to plea that he not do this, Gilchrist Kerr raised a hand to silence her.
“‘Tis sorry I am, niece. But I’m tired o’ being looked down on as a lowlander and MacNaughton has promised MacFarlane to me do I see this through. Ye’re marrying him and that’s that.”
Claray closed her mouth and gave a resigned nod, but couldn’t resist saying, “Let us hope, then, that ye live a long time to enjoy it, uncle. For I fear yer decision will surely see ye in hell for eternity afterward.”
Fear crossed his face at her words. It was closely followed by anger, and his hand clamped on her arm in a bruising grip. Dragging her out into the hall, he snapped, “Ye’ll want to be watchin’ that tongue o’ yers with the MacNaughton, girl. Else ye’ll be in hell ere me.”
Claray raised her chin, staring straight ahead as he urged her up the hall toward the stairs. “Not I. Me conscience is clear. I may die first, but ’tis heaven where I’ll land. Unlike you.”
She’d known her words would anger him further, and wasn’t surprised when his fingers tightened around her arm to the point she feared her bone would snap. But words were her only weapon now, and if what she’d said gave him more than a sleepless night or two between now and when he met his maker, it was something at least.
Claray tried to concentrate on that rather than the trials ahead as her uncle forced her down the stairs and out of the keep. The man was taller than her, his legs longer, but her uncle didn’t make allowances for that as he pulled her across the bailey. He was moving at a fast clip that had her running to keep pace with him. Claray was concentrating so hard on keeping up that when he suddenly halted halfway to the church, she stumbled and would have fallen if not for that punishing grip on her arm.
For one moment hope rose within her that his conscience had pricked him and he’d had a change of heart. But when she glanced to his face, she saw that he was frowning toward the gate where a clatter and commotion had apparently caught his attention.
Hope dying in her chest, Claray turned her disinterested gaze that way to see three men on horseback crossing the drawbridge. Guests arriving late to the wedding, she supposed unhappily, and shifted her attention toward the chapel where a large crowd of people awaited them. The witnesses to her doom were made up mostly of MacNaughton soldiers and a very few members of the Kerr clan. It seemed most did not wish to be a part of their laird’s betrayal of his own niece.
“The Wolf,” her uncle muttered with what sounded like confusion.
Claray glanced sharply back at her uncle to see the perplexed expression on his face and then surveyed the three men again. They were in the bailey now and riding straight for them at a canter rather than a walk, she noted, some of her disinterest falling away. They were all large, muscular warriors with long hair. But while the man in the lead had black hair, the one behind him had dark brown, and the last was fair. All three were good looking, if not outright handsome, she decided as they drew nearer.
Claray didn’t have to ask who the Wolf was, or even which of the three men he might be. The warrior who went by the moniker “the Wolf” was a favorite subject of the troubadours of late. Every other song they sang was about him, praising his courage and prowess in battle as well as his handsome face and hair that was “black as sin.” According to those songs, the Wolf was a warrior considered as intelligent and deadly as the wolf he was named for. But he was actually a lone wolf in those songs, because he spoke little and aligned himself with no particular clan, instead offering his sword arm for a price. He was a mercenary, but an honorable one. It was said he served only those with a just cause.
“What the devil is the Wolf doing here?” her uncle muttered now.
Claray suspected it was a rhetorical question so didn’t bother to respond. Besides, she had no idea why the man was here, but she was grateful for it. Any delay to this forced wedding was appreciated, so she simply stood at her uncle’s side, waiting for the men to reach them.
“Laird Kerr,” the Wolf said in greeting as he reined in before them. He then reached into his plaid to retrieve a scroll. Holding it in hand with the seal covered, he let his gaze slide briefly over Claray before turning his attention back to her uncle. “I understand your niece, Claray MacFarlane, is visiting. Is this her?”
“Aye,” her uncle muttered distractedly, his gaze on the scroll.
Nodding, the Wolf leaned down, offering him the sealed message. Claray resisted the urge to rub the spot where her uncle’s hand had gripped her so tightly when he released her to take the missive. Her upper arm was throbbing, but pride made her ignore it as she watched him break the seal and start to unroll the scroll.
Claray was actually holding her breath as she waited. Hope had reared in her again, this time that the missive might be from her cousin Aulay Buchanan. Perhaps this was his response to her cousin Mairin’s plea for help on her behalf. She might yet be saved from the fate the MacNaughton would force on her.
Distracted as she was, Claray was completely caught off guard when the Wolf suddenly scooped her up off her feet as he straightened in the saddle.
She heard her uncle’s shout of protest over her own startled gasp, and then she was in the man’s lap and he was turning his mount sharply and urging it into a run toward the gates.
To read more…
I deeply enjoyed this newest installment of the Highland Brides series. With Claray and Conell, we move to the 3rd generation amongst the families seen this far, though Claray and her Buchanan cousin Alick are the same age—just about the age of Annabel’s daughter Annella. Claray, imperiled by her Uncle’s scheme with a man set on marrying her, is rescued by a mercenary known to many simply as the Wolf, who was sent by her father and cousins when news of her plight arrives at Buchanan while he’s there. It isn’t long before the mercenary who’s fought to earn what he needs to restore his home to its former glory is enthralled by this kind, capable lady with a penchant for rescuing beasts of all kinds. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and am looking forward to seeing Alick’s story, and perhaps even the next generation of Buchanans, Sinclairs, and McKays (particularly as Annella is mentioned in such a way that I suspect her to be the next heroine). I’m never disappointed by a Lynsay Sands book, but the Highland Brides series may just be my favorite. There’s some appearance of the McKays, and of Aulay and Alick, Highland Wolf taking place 6 years after Highlander’s Promise. But largely this engaging story follows Claray’s rescue and her love story with Conell centered around the rebuilding of Conell’s ancestral home. Quite steamy, with strong chemistry between the hero and heroine from the start, and hard to put down mid-read.
Meet the Author:
LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus. Please visit her on the web at http://www.lynsaysands.net.