I won’t be around much between now and the end of October because I’m working as hard as I can to finish Defiant by a dropdead deadline of mid-October. I’ve never written as much in this short a period of time in my life, and I’m trying new writing techniques to make it work. But one thing is for certain — I can’t hang out online.
You can watch the little graphic above to see how I’m doing. I’ll update it every Monday. And feel free to send good vibes, positive writing energy and any spare muses you have stuck in your pockets.
In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with something to tide you over.
Defiant, the third book in the MacKinnon’s Ranger series, will hopefully be out in March. It tells the story of Connor MacKinnon, the youngest MacKinnon brother, and Lady Sarah Woodville, who is Lord William Wentworth’s niece. Taken captive while on her way to visit with Lord William, Sarah disappears into the wilderness, and Connor and Joseph, Connor’s Mahican brother, are sent alone to find her. When they do, they learn that she is to be made the unwilling wife of one of an Indian warrior whose wife was killed by British soldiers. The only way Connor can win her freedom is to risk his life in a battle to the death — and claim her as his own.
And now, without further ado, an excerpt from Defiant.
From Chapter 6
Sarah was still lying down, facing away from the door, when she heard him enter. She lay there unmoving, childishly feigning sleep, as if refusing to open her eyes would somehow keep the world at bay.
Major MacKinnon called to her softly. “My lady?”
Do not behave like a witless girl, Sarah. Where is your courage?
She wiped the tears off her cheeks, then slowly sat up, the dread in her heart seeming to weigh her down. “Major MacKinnon.”
“’Tis sorry I am to disturb your sleep, but I must speak wi’ you.”
She stood, turned to face him, whatever she’d been about to say momentarily forgotten as she took in the sight of him. His jaw was clean-shaven, his face startlingly handsome. His chest and belly were smooth now, the dark curls she’d seen before gone, his skin oiled to a fine sheen, the cut she’d stitched and the other smaller cuts he’d gotten during the fight giving him a dangerous air. His hair was damp, a striped brown feather tied at the end of one of his braids. His leather breeches rode low on his hips, a knife sheathed at his side.
But what she noticed most was the anguish in his eyes. It was a match for the anguish she’d heard in his voice when he’d spoke to Joseph outside.
“Please… Please sit, major.” She sat, reaching down out of habit to shift her skirts before she sat, only to feel doeskin against her hands. “I wish to apologize for my fit of temper earlier. You have risked much for me. It was wrong of me to—”
“Shhh, lady.” He pressed a finger to her lips and sat facing her. “You’re far beyond the world you ken, aye? ’Tis natural for you to be feelin’ afraid and angry about what has befallen you, but you must trust me if we’re to reach Albany alive.”
He looked away for a moment, his face growing more troubled as he seemed to consider what to say next, his brow furrowed. “I fear I have failed you, for it is on that same troublin’ matter that we must speak.”
She watched him struggle to find the words to tell her what he’d just told Joseph, something inside her touched by his obvious turmoil. “I… I overheard you speaking with Joseph just now.”
His head came up, surprise written on his face, his gaze meeting hers, seeming to study her face. “That’s why you’ve been weepin’. I see the tearstains on your cheeks.”
She raised her palms to her face to wipe the telltale sign of weakness away.
“You understand the choice that lies before you, aye?”
She nodded, folding her hands in her lap. “I must decide whether to chance escape, knowing that you and Joseph will die terribly should we fail, or whether to marry you after the Indian fashion and spend tonight as … as your wife.”
“Aye, that’s the way of it. ’Tis a hard choice you’re bein’ asked to make, but life is no’ always fair.”
Sarah knew that only too well.
Major MacKinnon went on. “Is there augh’ you would ask me afore you decide? There is little time, I fear.”
She shook her head. “No, sir.”
She’d made up her mind before he’d entered the lodge.
She met his gaze, tried to keep the fear from her voice. “I cannot ask you to chance being burnt at the stake, major. You’ve already risked your life once for my sake. As highly as I value my virtue, it is not worth two men’s lives.”
What an irony that her father’s decision to send her away had led her to this — her true undoing. No doubt there were many in London who believed she had no virtue, yet she had left London as a virgin. She would not return as one.
He watched her through dark eyes. “Are you certain, my lady? For I willna take you by force. You must come to me as willingly as I come to you — each of us for the sake of the other.”
She hadn’t thought about it in quite that way, but when he spoke the words, some of the dread lifted from her heart. “Aye, major, I am certain. But…”
“You’re afraid.” He closed one big hand over both of hers, his thumb stroking her knuckles. “I promise I shall treat you this night wi’ the same care and devotion I would if you truly were my bride.”
Then to her astonishment, he cupped her cheek, lowered his lips to hers — and kissed her.
Softly, so softly he kissed her, brushing her lips with his again and again, the mere whisper of a touch making her shiver. She might have objected had the sensation not been so… enthralling. Slowly, his touch became more insistent, his lips caressing hers, nibbling them, her lips tingling, going pliant, yielding to his exploration, her eyes drifting shut. Then his tongue traced the outline of her lower lip.
Startled, she gasped, and her eyes flew open.
He was watching her, his blue eyes dark, his voice a whisper. “My lady.”
And she thought it was over.
But then one big hand slid into her hair to cradle her head, and he drew her against his bare chest, his mouth closing over hers. There were almost too many new sensations to take in all at once, her girlish notions of what it would feel like to be kissed by a man vanishing in a heartbeat. The iron-hard feel of his body surrounding her. The warm scent of his oiled skin. The firm pressure of his lips against hers as he tasted her, his tongue teasing its way inside her mouth with silken strokes.
Then his tongue touched hers, his lungs stealing her surprised intake of breath as he sealed her mouth with his. Her body seemed to melt, and she sank boneless against him, her hands sliding up the smooth skin of his chest, her lips parting to accommodate him, her tongue meeting his. She felt something pound against her palm, and realized that his heart was beating every bit as hard as hers.
Slowly, his kiss stilled, his lips brushing her cheek, her temple. “My lady.”
Breathless and amazed, she looked up into his eyes.
He drew back slightly, his arm still encircling her. “Now you ken the taste of my kiss. Think on that, and dinnae be afraid of what is to come, aye?”
(c) copyright 2011 Pamela Clare
I hope you enjoyed that. Connor and Sarah have a big adventure ahead of them, that’s for certain. And finishing this book is going to be an adventure for me.
In the meantime, here’s a look at the schedule for my historicals for those of you who are interested.
Sweet Release (Kenleigh-Blakewell Family Saga, Book I) — available now as an ebook on Amazon.com, B&N, iTunes and Smashwords
Carnal Gift (Kenleigh-Blakewell Family Saga, Book II) — full-length author’s cut available now as an ebook on Amazon.com, B&N, iTunes and Smashwords. This is the first time this has been available. More than 100 manuscript pages were cut from the story as it was first published. This is the book as I intended it to be. The book contains a pronunciation guide for those Gaelic names.
Surrender (MacKinnon’s Rangers, Book I) — To be reissued on Dec. 6 with new material and a new cover. Iain and Annie got a facelift and about 20 manuscript pages of new material.
Untamed (MacKinnon’s Rangers, Book II) — To be reissued on Jan. 3, 2012, with a gorgeous new cover and 25 previously deleted pages restored. This is the book as I wrote it.
I’ll see you in about two months...