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Love With a Scottish Outlaw
by Gayle Callen
Book 3 of the "Highland Weddings" trilogy
Love is worth any risk in this seductive finale of USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series...
The last thing clan chief Duncan Carlyle expects to encounter in the rain-soaked highlands was Catriona Duff, daughter of the corrupt earl responsible for the price on his head. Yet Duncan finds himself sheltering the beauty who claims to have lost her memory. Catriona could be the key to stopping her father, but only if he Duncan can keep her identity—and his dangerously powerful desire—to himself.
Duncan may have rescued Catriona, but the gruff outlaw clearly doesn’t trust her. She’s moved by his mission to rescue kidnapped children, but hiding in a network of caves means living in close quarters with everyone—including Duncan. And even as Catriona struggles to remember her past, the present draws her ever closer to this enigmatic man...and to the secret that could change everything.
"The amnesia plotline adds depth and deeper emotions to the growing romance between the hero and heroine while instilling an underlying suspense into their relationship. Readers will find themselves swept away and captivated."
RT Book Reviews
"This was real, the love that develops a struggle between trust and forgiveness...A wonderful story, beautifully written and hard to put down once you get started."
Author Sophie Barnes
"Callen is a true artist when it comes to creating characters
with much depth and complexity. I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to
read the others in the series."
I Am, Indeed
"I loved everything about this book."
Sammi's Bookish Reality
"Ms. Callen’s prose is elegant and effortless...at times gorgeous turns of phrases or profound thoughts made me stop and think, or simply enjoy the beauty of beautifully turned sentences or descriptions."
Buried Under Romance
"The romance was sexy, swoon worthy and enchanting...I cannot wait to see what Gayle Callen writes next."
Jojo the Bookoholic
"Gayle Callen brings together a beautiful love story that involves amnesia, deception, kidnapping, caves, hard work, long nights, and angst on both parties. I loved the characters."
The Book Junkie Reads
"This book is the embodiment of every girlhood fantasy that
those of us who like our princes a whole lot less polished, and a whole lot
more William Wallace, love.
Two Girls With Books
Becky on Books
(The following is the property of the author and Avon Books, and cannot be copied or reprinted without permission.)
The rain woke her first, hard and pelting against her face. For a long moment, she kept her eyes closed in confusion and uncertainty—and pain. God, her head hurt, the distant ache exploding as she came more and more to consciousness. The rain plopped on her eyelids and cheeks, and slid down into the wet mass of hair beneath her. Something was wrong, something beyond the rain, the aching head, and the sodden, uneven ground upon which she lay. Thinking about it only hurt more, so she tried to move, flexing her hands and feet, shrugging her shoulders. A wave of nausea roiled through her, but she couldn’t let it overwhelm her. She shivered, teeth chattering, skull throbbing.
Why was she lying outside on the ground? Nothing came into her mind—nothing at all.
Surely it was because of the ache in her head, she told herself, fighting a growing feeling of anxiety. She needed warmth and release from the pain. Nothing would change if she just continued to lie there.
She crinkled her eyes, blinked several times, and opened them again. The sky was gray with patches of even darker clouds, letting loose a torrent upon the countryside. She forced herself to turn her head and saw a steep hillside above her, with the occasional bush clinging to the infertile ground. There were marks etched in the earth, like a giant had taken its fingers and gouged downward, leading right toward her.
With a groan, she rolled to the side, feeling every muscle protest like little screams erupting inside her.
And then she saw the blank stare of a dead man.
She screamed aloud, hoarse and choked, unable to look away. There was blood on his face, and his neck was at an unnatural angle.
She had to cover her mouth with both hands to stop the sobs from leaking out. Though she wanted to look away, she couldn’t let herself. He was dead, poor soul, but he was also a stranger. He was lying at the foot of a hillside, right beside her, and his face meant nothing.
She meant nothing.
She had to accept it now—there was nothing inside her head about whom she was or why she was lying next to a dead man. Nothing existed before the moment she’d been awakened by the rain.
As she rolled away from the body, she told herself that she knew what things were—that hadn’t left her. There was the sky and rain and mud. She had hands that shook, a head that pounded, hips that ached as she arched away from a rock beneath her.
With a groan, she leveraged her hands beneath her and pushed until, trembling, she was in a sitting position. And then she saw another crumpled, unmoving body. She let out a moan of fear, looking around as if for the enemy who’d done this. But she was alone, with only the vastness of barren hills and wild water.
The person behind her was dead, but maybe not this one. On her hands and knees, she crawled the short distance, rocks cutting her palms, mud oozing between her fingers.
“Sir? Are you well?”
But when she touched his sodden coat, she knew; he was hard and cold and very dead. She forced herself to look into his face, eyes half-closed and staring at nothing. He was a stranger, too.
She sank back on her heels and hugged herself as despair washed over her, the feeling as wet and miserable as the rain itself. But she could not let herself surrender to fear. She wouldn’t die out here, alone. Looking around, she saw water flowing down the ravine, overrunning its banks. The uneven, rocky ground stretched downhill, away from her, rising into the slopes of barren brown hillsides, and between them, the darker green of valleys, dotted with the occasional copse of trees. There was nothing else in the world but the forlorn emptiness of countryside, no houses, no villages, no roads.
Turning her neck, she looked back up the ravine. She must have come from up there with these men, fallen down, maybe caused those gouges in the earth. But if they’d been riding horses, they were long gone, taking with them any belongings that might have explained who she was or where they were going.
She wasn’t sure when night might fall, but she needed to find help or at least shelter, before the cold killed her as the fall had killed these men.
Staggering to her feet, she began to walk downhill, away from the dangerously high river. Each step jarred her bruises, but at least nothing seemed broken—except her head, which pounded so hard she could only keep her eyes half open. Her soaked gown and cloak weighed her down, making each step an uneven lurch.
Duncan Carlyle, outlawed chief of
the Clan Carlyle, rode his chestnut gelding, Arran, slowly through the rain
along the narrow dirt path that wound between the hillsides of the southern
As the path took a turn, Arran’s
ears went back, and
He urged his horse into a trot until he approached her. Her uneven gait came to a halt as her lowered gaze took in first the legs of his horse, then rose slowly. He inhaled at the sight of the ugly bruise on her forehead, and the wound beside it that streamed with blood. Her eyes were rimmed with blue shadows of distress, her face blanched white. She stared up at him unseeing, allowing him only a glimpse of her golden eyes before they rolled back in her head as she collapsed.
As he touched her shoulders, he felt the fine material of her cloak. After straightening her limbs, he lifted her upper body into his left arm, cradling her head so that he blocked the rain. He probed near her wound gingerly with his right hand, and she frowned and weakly tried to turn away.
His wariness deepened. There was something about her, a familiarity that echoed inside his head but refused to take shape.
“Where am I?” she whispered, her accent English. “What happened?”
An English lady in the
She blinked as if she might lose consciousness. “Where am I? What happened?”
Now it was his turn to blink, but he remembered that wounds of the head could cause confusion. He knew he had to stop the blood loss.
“Mistress, can ye stand?”
She opened those eyes again, large and golden, in a delicate face. Her dark hair streamed back from her forehead, her hairline coming to a peak.
He recognized her, a flash of
memory from Stirling several years ago, when he’d glared his hatred at the Earl
of Aberfoyle, a haughty old man on horseback, forcing aside a poor lass heavy
with child to make way for him. The earl’s family was seldom in
Catriona Duff was the daughter of
Aberfoyle, the chief of the Clan Duff and Duncan’s bitter enemy. Aberfoyle was
one of the main reasons that
He lifted his head and looked about, as if the earl and his entire retinue were somewhere nearby, waiting to attack him. “Where are your men?” he demanded.
“What happened?” she asked weakly.
“Ye’ve hit your head. Where are your men?”
Her hand fluttered toward her forehead, but he didn’t allow her to touch the wound.
A spasm of pain narrowed her eyes. “I found them . . . dead,” she whispered. “What happened to me?”
“I don’t know.” He would just have
to hope she was telling the truth. Six weeks after almost being captured, he
was still wary of anything unusual in his part of the
“I—I can’t remember—I can’t remember anything!” Though her cry was feeble, it was full of helplessness and fear.
“Ye don’t remember the accident?”
“Not . . . the accident, not even . . . my name.”
He frowned down at her, wondering at what intrigue she was playing—or what her father had set in motion. He wouldn’t put it past the bastard.
She clutched his plaid. “What happened to me?” she cried in despair.
“I do not ken. I must clean that wound. Can ye stand? I can pull ye up on my horse.”
He rose, lifting her up with him until she could clutch the saddle for support. After mounting, he reached down for her. He would have preferred she ride astride behind him, but she seemed so weak that he ended up cradling her across his thighs. She leaned into him, her head lolling onto his chest, her blood staining his black, red, and yellow plaid.
It didn’t take long to reach the rocky overhang he’d used for shelter several other times. Once out of the rain, he searched his saddle pack but found nothing that would do for a clean bandage. He ended up cutting several strips from the end of his shirt with his dirk. The wound seemed clean enough after all the rain, so he wrapped the improvised bandages around her head and hoped they stopped the bleeding.
She looked at him helplessly the whole time, and he felt like she was memorizing his features. He studied her, too. Her high cheekbones emphasized the hollows beneath, and her full lips hinted at an expressive mouth. Her pale face was as remote and beautiful as a statue, making her appeal to him on a primitive level that he would never acknowledge.
Why was she in the remote
As he stared down at her, her eyes closed, her waxen complexion and flickering frown betraying the presence of pain. But now he saw more—the brooch that decorated her shoulder, marking her: the insignia of the Duff clan. He pulled it off her and hid it away in his saddlebag. It would be safer if no one knew who she was. There were too many desperate clansmen who might react with violence.
“Time to go,” he said gruffly, helping her to a sitting position.
He saw the panic in her anguished
eyes and barely had time to help her turn her head aside before she retched.
Much as he despised her father, he pitied her condition. She was almost
boneless as he lifted her to her feet. He covered her bandaged head with the
hood of her cloak, hoping for some protection. His gelding, which had been
grazing patiently in the rain, accepted both their weight and turned for home
She represented everything he
despised, daughter of the man who cared so little about the Scottish people
that he allowed children to be stolen and sold as indentured servants,
practically slavery, in the American colonies and the Caribbean plantations.
He’d sworn he would be a better
chief than his father had been, but instead, he’d made everything worse. He’d
brought his complaint to the Court of Session, and the magistrates hadn’t even
allowed witnesses to be brought forth.
Since that day, the Carlyles
skirted starvation, while the Duffs enjoyed the fruits of an earldom that
And now into his path had come
Catriona Duff. If he kept her for a while—and how could he not, with her
injuries?—he would make the Duffs suffer as the Carlyles had all these years.
This could be the culmination of his vengeance. Let the old earl wonder where
his daughter was.
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