Kilts and Daggers--Available Now
Book 2 of the Highland Spies
Ever since Lady Grace Walsingham discovered her uncle and sister are spies for the Crown, she has yearned for adventure. She's counting the days until she can leave barbaric Scotland behind, even if she must endure Highland captain Fagan Murray's company for weeks.
Fagan has a simple mission: escort the haughty Lady Grace back to England. But nothing is ever easy. The sharp-tongued woman needles him at every turn. But when a menacing threat follows them on their journey, Fagan's grudging tolerance for Grace turns to respect...and into a perilous attraction that could seal their fate.
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Read Reviews | Read Excerpt
“In a classic story of disdain leading to love, Fagan and Grace’s banter strengthens their connection... Grace and Fagan make visiting the Highlands worth the trip.”
“Roberts continues to craft fast-moving, well-written plots populated by real-life characters, keeping readers in the story from beginning to satisfying conclusion... a fascinating romance.”
—RT Book Reviews
“An exceptionally nuanced Highland romance.”
"With smooth, lyrical prose, Victoria Roberts creates a delightful, delicious love story that is blended with political intrigue, savagery, the beauty of Scotland, and diverse customs of the English and Scottish people. CAPTIVATING READING!"
—Long and Short Reviews/5 stars
Sutherland, Scottish Highlands, 1610
“Scotland. The land of barbarian fools, and now my sister is among them,” said Grace.
“What is done is done, my dear. There’s nothing you can do now except offer your felicitations and place a smile on that beautiful face of yours. If you’ll pray excuse me, I’ll take my leave to consort with the enemy. May I suggest you do the same? We cannot be rude to our gracious hosts.”
If Lord Daniel Casterbrook wasn’t her betrothed, she would’ve chided him right where he stood. He pulled her close to his side, more than likely to prevent her from fleeing, and they walked together into the crowd. Unlike the tall and disheveled kilted men, Daniel sported a pair of tan breeches and wore a slashed doublet with paned sleeves. His tall boots turned over at the top, and his brown hair was pulled back into a lovelock that hung over his shoulder. His shoulders weren’t nearly as wide as those of the other men in attendance, but his features were so perfect that he was almost too beautiful for a man.
As Daniel stopped and huddled with Uncle Walter in deep conversation, boisterous sounds of laughter filled the air. But Lady Grace Walsingham couldn’t have been more miserable as she pulled the laced bodice of her emerald gown away from her damp skin. The heat was so unbearable that sweat was dripping between her breasts and down her back. She gazed around the room filled with men, women, and flowing ale and wondered if her sister had gone mad.
Kilts, daggers, and men in the throes of battle—that’s what she tried to overlook while standing in the great hall of her brother-in-law’s home. Granted, the kilts and daggers belonged to the Sutherland clan, but she couldn’t understand why her sister hadn’t taken down those dreadful tapestries before her wedding day. Why would someone want to depict the ghastly scene of warriors on the battlefield, especially on such a celebratory occasion? That was not something she would permit on the day of her own wedding, but her sister was blissfully happy, and Grace supposed that was all that mattered.
When the men paid her no heed, Grace turned and left them. She could take a hint that she wasn’t wanted. She stepped around the bagpiper, placing her hands briefly over her ears to shield them from the dreadful performance. The kilted man tapped his foot while he played the ungodly instrument, which sounded a great deal like pigs in the midst of being slaughtered. If his actions were any indication, he clearly thought he was engaged in some kind of lovely Scottish melody. She didn’t want to tell him that the music, if she could even call it that, had given her a headache as big as London.
God, she felt like she was drowning in a sea of Sutherlands. She said a silent prayer of thanks when the bagpiper finally ceased his incessant piping. Her head was pounding. She thought perhaps she could make an early escape to her chamber, but then a raised voice stopped her in her tracks. Although the man was rarely comprehensible, she’d recognize his voice anywhere.
“He is such an arse. Ye do know when he tells the tale, he was naught but a mighty fine warrior. Anyone who knows him recognizes the truth. I donna even think he remembered to grab his sword before he cowered and ran away like a dog with his tail between his legs.”
The men around him laughed in response, and Grace chided herself because she couldn’t resist a peek. When her eyes met Fagan Murray, the captain of Laird Sutherland’s guard, for some unknown reason, her heart started hammering in her chest and she found it difficult to perform the simplest of tasks—like breathing.
The captain’s dark hair hung well below his shoulders, and he had a smile that grated on her nerves. Although he had the craggy look of an unfinished sculpture, he exuded masculinity in a way that unsettled her. He wore a kilt of green, black, blue, white, and orange, the Sutherland tartan. When the man caught her staring, his eyes twinkled, and a smile played on his lips.
Grace averted her eyes. The rogue made her feel like he always knew her thoughts, and she couldn’t stand that about him. She jumped when a familiar female voice spoke beside her.
“My apologies. I didn’t mean to startle you. I’m so glad you decided to stay with us for a while.”
Grace waved her sister off. “Ravenna, you have done so much for our family. Postponing my wedding was the least I could do. Furthermore, this will be a big transition for Elizabeth and Kat. Living in the Scottish Highlands will be a lot different than what they’re used to, and I cannot lie. I will miss you all so terribly. Before I go, I want to see my sisters settled into their new home, and I’d really like to spend some time with all of you before I become Lady Casterbrook. There’s plenty of time for that later.” She bumped her sister in the arm with her elbow. “Truth be told, I’m counting on you to tell me all the secrets about married life, Lady Sutherland. Although I had grown rather fond of Lady Ravenna Walsingham—or even ‘Mistress Denny’—I do find your new name suits you quite well.”
Ravenna shook her head. “I’d rather not be reminded about ‘Mistress Denny.’ But how could I forget that you were the one who traveled from Edinburgh and gave my true identity away? Everything turned out for the best, but I certainly hope you’ve learned a valuable lesson from your careless actions.”
“Rest assured, Lady Sutherland. Now that I know you’re a spy for the Crown, I will never be so foolish again as to place you in harm’s way.”
“Lower your voice. And I told you… I’ve retired from service.”
Grace rolled her eyes. “So you and Uncle Walter continue to say, but how does one simply retire? Are you ever really done trying to protect our king and country? Who knows? Perhaps Uncle Walter will give me my first assignment when I go back to England. With your instruction, I’m more than ready.”
“Grace,” Ravenna said with impatience, “we never agreed that you’d take my place.”
“I think what you mean to say is that you never agreed.”
Ravenna rubbed her hand over her brow. “It takes far more than a handful of my words and guidance to be ready to work for the Crown. And you’re getting married in a few months. What about Daniel?”
“What about him? He’ll never find out. I never knew you worked for the king either.”
“Yes, and look what good that did me,” her sister snapped. “Do we have to have this discussion right now, especially on my wedding day?”
“You do look beautiful.”
Ravenna’s smooth ivory skin glowed. Her red hair dangled over her shoulders in loose waves that hung down her back. She wore a light-blue wedding gown, and her skirts were split and tied back to reveal the gold silk brocade beneath.
“I have to ask you this again. Are you sure you want to stay at the manor house and remain in England? I know Uncle Walter will watch over you, but—”
“Oh, I’m quite certain. I’ll only live there until Daniel and I wed.” Grace didn’t miss how her sister had quickly changed the direction of the conversation. Looking around the great hall at Ravenna’s new family only further confirmed that Grace’s decision was the right one. “I know your husband’s family… er, clan suits you, but this life is not for me. My home is in England, and frankly, I want to be around people I can clearly understand.”
A deep voice interrupted the conversation.
“Are ye keeping my wife all to yourself? ’Tis time to give her up for a wee bit, lass.”
“Pardon?” asked Grace.
Laird Ruairi Sutherland was definitely not a man Grace would like to encounter in a dark alley in London in the middle of the night. Her sister’s head only reached the middle of the massive man’s chest. His brown hair had traces of red and was fairly straight. He had a powerful set of shoulders and looked like a bloody mercenary, as though he could kill someone with only a stare. In Grace’s humble opinion, Ravenna was more elegant and graceful when she was with the brawny Highland laird. Grace had a difficult time understanding why her sister couldn’t have found a more suitable mate in England, but she had to admit that Ravenna looked quite content.
When her brother-in-law lowered his head and devoured her sister’s mouth, Grace didn’t mind taking her leave to find a solitary wall on the other side of the great hall. That was until someone found her and she realized she should’ve sought her chamber after all.
“’Twas a bonny day for a wedding, but ye donna look as though ye’re enjoying yourself. Why is that?”
She lifted her eyes to find the captain of Laird Sutherland’s guard and couldn’t stay the sigh that escaped her. Fagan Murray, kilted barbarian and Scottish miscreant, stood before her with a gaze that was sharp and assessing. The man was just as big and imposing as Laird Sutherland. The way he stood there and continued to gape at her, Grace supposed he was waiting for a response. She held her head high because she didn’t feel like giving the brute the time of day.
“What is amiss, bhana-phrionnsa?” He spoke slowly, and she knew he mocked her. “Do ye nae understand my words?”
“Oh, I heard you. I want to know what you called me.”
“The name suits ye. I called ye ‘princess.’”
“Don’t call me that.” She looked around nervously in the hope that someone would rescue her from this man, and that was a term she used very loosely because he was certainly no gentleman.
His smile broadened when he realized he’d unnerved her, which irked her even more. If she was going to stay in Scotland for the next few weeks, she couldn’t let this Highlander get the best of her. Grace carefully masked her expression because most of the time the rogue saw right through her nervousness and used her weakness to his advantage.
She spoke lightly and cast him a tight smile. “You know, Mister Murray, I seem to remember my fist fitting perfectly into your eye. If you don’t want me to blacken your other one, I suggest you leave off. Please let me know if you need me to speak more slowly because I want to make sure my words are understood perfectly.”