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Jan 21, 2016

Hold Fast by Heather Hart

Cover & Excerpt

Hold Fast by Heather Hart

Hold FastBonnie MacDonald lives on the wild and beautiful Scottish Isle of Skye. Her life is peaceful enough, apart from the ever-simmering feud between the McDonalds and the McLeods, who live to the north of them. But now her father is going to die, and it is not to be a Highlander's glorious death in battle, but an underhanded assault in the dark by a traitorous servant. That same treacherous fiend had once come after Bonnie, but at the last moment she was rescued from violation and murder by the one man she cannot show gratitude to, the son of her family’s sworn enemy, Rory Mòr MacLeod.

And yet she falls in love with her rescuer, and he with her, and there never were two more star-crossed lovers. Neither family will readily accept a union between them, but Rory does not give up on making her his own, though Bonnie often misconstrues his intentions. Matters are further complicated when they discover that Bonnie’s guardian harbors a secret passion for his beautiful young ward, and soon claims her for himself.

But everyone’s plans are foiled when another suitor for her hand kidnaps and whisks Bonnie away to a lonely house in the north of Skye. Her only chance is to flee her captor and seek sanctuary in Rory’s castle at Dunvegan. But while Bonnie fights for her own survival, the battling clansmen bring their families to the brink of war, and all for the love of the same woman.

Note: This is a sweet romance based loosely on real events leading to the Battle of Coire Na Creiche, also known as the Wars of the One-Eyed Woman, fought on the Isle of Skye in 1601.

Genre: Historical Romance
Content/Theme(s): Highlands, Romantic Suspense, Mysticism, Sweet
Release Date: January 14, 2016
Blushing Books
Excerpt & More

Purchase link(s):  Amazon
The Sound of Sleat
It wasn't that I disliked Rory Mòr MacLeod. What I felt was more akin to pure hatred. I watched as the boy my cousins and I had all called the wee terror of the glen skipped along the banks of the Sound of Sleat as if he owned them. My stomach turned. My father warned me not to mess with the MacLeod scum, and I knew his warning was not without cause. Rory was the favorite son of his father, and the MacLeod clan had been warring with my family forever.

What's more, I had cause of my own, for the spoiled brat liked nothing better than to tear my skirts and pull at my braids. He scampered along, driving an ancient, scrawny cow ahead of him. Rory held his head high, like a strutting peacock, all the while urging the decrepit beast on from the lush green pasture located a short distance from the shore. I had no time to spare for the black-haired, blackfingered, ill-mannered ruffian that he was, so I turned away, pretending I hadn't seen him, and carried on with my work.

"I see you, Bonnie MacDonald. 'Tis a fine day, is it not?"

"Aye, it was, before you came along, Rory Mòr MacLeod."

He paused, a cocky grin spread across his young face, and he leaned upon his staff and looked down at me. "Now that's no way for a lass to talk to a Highland clansman."

"Away with you, you gormless fool." I looked at the poor beast at his side, noting the sharp contours of her bony ribs. "I see that your betters have entrusted you with the pick of the MacLeod crop. It would be better to put that poor animal out of her misery, would it not? What are you thinking, driving such a wretched thing this far south and in this heat? 'Tis a wonder she doesn't die of old age before she makes it home."

He shrugged and watched as I continued to wash the wool in the sea. I kept my head down, hoping he would go away, afraid he would set on me as he had so often done before and make me cry. His silence made me uncomfortable.

"What are you doing so far from the safety of Dunvegan? These lands were taken from you long ago, you've no business here now."

He looked across the land to the distance peaks of the Red Cuillin. Swinging on his staff, he addressed me as if I were still a child.

"A traveler has the right of passage, whichever way his path takes him, does he not? If you must know, the cow is old, and belongs to a kinswoman who lives not too far from these parts. She bade me slaughter her, for she could not. I'm taking her to the market in Saaisag, as I'll get a fair price for her there. As you see there's not much meat on her bones, but she's added plenty of calves to my aunt's stock over the years; so don't judge her by how she looks now, Bonnie."

"It's not the cow I'm judging. What is your aunt thinking, living this far south, so far away from the protection of her kinsmen?"

"The MacDonald's have their people in the north, do they not? Or would you draw a line across the island and keep everyone in their proper place? Any road, if it were not for my aunt, you would like as never have had the good fortune to meet me."

I looked up, my hands still in the cool water as I scrubbed the freshly cut fleece. There was a swagger about him I didn't like and I wished with all my heart he would go away and leave me to my business.

"Look, is there something you're wanting or are you going to make that wretched cow stand in the sun all day?"

"Ah, well, she'll be well enough, I'm thinking. I was wondering about your good cousin, Donald? He has been the talk of my clansmen of late."

My eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I can tell you he's not been asking after you. Why would he? Are you up to more of your treachery, Rory MacLeod? Do you and your clansmen have nothing better to do than continually plot against mine?"

"Oh, our business would be nothing to a wee sprite of a lass like you." He cocked his head to one side. "You look different. Your hair? You used to braid it."

"I'm not a little child anymore."

"No, Bonnie, I see that you're not."

In an instant I was self-conscious. I pulled the fleece out of the water and stretched it out on the grass to dry. All the while I prayed he would go away. Whatever his words, if my father or cousin saw him here with me, we'd both be in for it. The MacLeod's were our enemy after all.

I kept my head down, squeezing the excess water out of the wool, yet the obstinate ruffian just stood there, watching me.

I looked up. "Talking of my cousin, he said he might walk by this way. He could be here at any moment."

Rory stiffened in mock defiance. "Oh, he's going to claim my girl, I suppose? I shall have to fight him for you, to the death if need be."

I gave him the evil eye. "Your girl? Ha! If you're referring to me, you should get that nonsense out of your head. Who do you think you are, any road? Making such statements as you've no call to be making."

His shoulders slumped a little. "You're sweet on this Donald then?"

I rose to my feet and put my hands on my hips. "I never said I was, and I never said I wasn't. I'm not seeing how this is any business of yours. Now, get off to market and return to your fine castle at Dunvegan as soon as you can. And if its love you're looking for, I'm sure that old cow by your side has some life in her yet."

He laughed. "You've a wicked mind and a sharp tongue, Bonnie MacDonald."

I could see his eyes running the length of me, and his gaze made me uneasy. I decided to brave out my fears with words.

"There's no point you hanging about any longer. My kinsman Donald will run you though first, and ask questions later. If you want to reach your maturity then I suggest you scurry back to whatever hole you crawled out from."

Rory looked over my shoulder, as if the man himself would suddenly appear out of thin air behind me.

"I've no fear of the MacDonalds."

"Then tarry a while, so we can see the class of your sword arm. I must say Donald is adept with the claymore. But no doubt you've wielded a few weapons in your time. Either way, it will be a pleasant diversion, and then I can get back to washing these fleeces." I looked down at the half-finished pile at my feet, and Rory followed my gaze.

To give him his due, he didn't run away, as I thought he might. Instead, he laid his hand down on the old cow's rump as she chewed quietly at the grass. I was surprised by the gentleness with which he stroked her, but was in no mood to pay him compliments.

"Well, I'll be seeing you, Mistress Bonnie MacDonald, have no fear."

I snorted. "I'll try not to."

I remained standing as he drove the cow on, and only when he was out of sight did my mind return to my work. Of the four fleeces I had set out to clean, I had only finished the one. Throughout the whole exchange my poor pony had stood quietly in the shade of a tree, occasionally drinking his fill from a stream beside him.

"Now what do you think to that?" I asked the tethered beast.

Barley paid no heed to me; instead he just pulled his head out of the cool stream and grazed on the grass at his feet.

"Much help you are," I chided. "Och, will you look at all this work! If I don't get them done my father will flay me."

I dropped to my knees and dragged the next fleece from the pile to the bay. Though well respected members of the MacDonald clan, my late mother and I had the gift for cloth making, and our family were famed throughout Scotland for the quality of our yarn. But if I didn't get these fleeces washed and hanging before the heat of the day went, I'd be for it. So for the next hour I put my back into the task, cleaning out all the dirt and excrement matted into the fibers. I liked the work, for it gave me the chance to think and dream, something that I rarely had time for back at our little cottage set into the hillside. There were altogether too many chores to be done to allow peace and quiet in my day.
Purchase link(s):  Amazon
Other titles by Heather Hart:
A Swinging
Find Heather Hart at:
Twitter: @HeatherHartxxx
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Heather Hart Goodreads author page
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