Kill Or Be Kilt--Available Now
Book 3 of the Highland Spies
It's been three years since Lady Elizabeth Walsingham ended her childish crush on Laird Ian Munro, the fierce Highlander who scared everyone but her. She's a grown woman now, heading to London to find a proper English gentleman. But when the wild Highland laird walks through the door, she's that breathless youth all over again.
Ian tries hard to avoid the young lass who's confounded him for years. But now that they're attending court, he must keep watch on her night and day. Danger is at every turn and advisors to the Crown are being murdered. Ian soon realizes the girl he's been protecting is a beautiful lady who needs his help, almost as much as he needs her.
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“Roberts’ newest Scots tale, filled with unique characters, sensuality, a colorful backdrop and an intriguing plot line, demands to be read and reread. Roberts knows her audience and delivers what Scottish romance fans desire. This is a tale readers can take to their hearts.”
—RT Book Reviews
"I adore this series, and as usual, Victoria Roberts has written another well crafted book with brilliant characters..."
—Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK
Sutherland, Scottish Highlands, 1613
This was his last chance to turn around and bolt from the gates as if his arse was afire. Against his better judgment, he kept his eyes forward, his hands steady, and he tried not to pay any heed to the warning voice that whispered in his head.
Laird Ian Munro wasn’t aware of the death grip he held on the reins of his mount as he approached the portcullis. He’d sworn that he’d never again set foot on Sutherland lands as long as the four Walsingham sisters lived under the same roof as his friend. He was no coward, but between the troubles with the Gordon, Stewart, and the damn mercenaries, he’d made it a point to stay on his own lands.
Laird Ruairi Sutherland’s home was a fortified castle with round turrets, a square watchtower, and a curtain wall that was twenty feet thick at the widest point. Yet, to Ian’s surprise, the stone structure wasn’t strong enough to hold the wily Walsinghams at bay. He passed the dangerous cliffs on the left, and to his right was a lush forest. He supposed he could always take a leap to the left if he found himself trapped within the walls with no means of escape.
As he reached the point of no return, his face clouded with uneasiness because the guards had already greeted him from the gatehouse. Ian continued through to the bailey and halted, hesitantly releasing the reins of his horse to the stable hand. Ruairi’s captain greeted him with a brotherly slap on the back.
“Munro, how long has it been, my friend?” Fagan Murray’s dark hair hung well below his shoulders, and he wore a kilt of green, black, blue, white, and orange—the Sutherland tartan.
“ʼTis good to see ye, Fagan.” Ian gazed around the courtyard, breathing a sigh of relief no Walsinghams were in sight.
“Then tell me. Why have we nae seen your face since Grace and I wed? Ye know it has been almost three years since we’ve last set eyes upon ye.”
Ian raised his eyebrows and placed his hand over his heart. “Truly? Has it been that long?”
Fagan lowered his voice and playfully balled his fist into Ian’s arm. “To be truthful, I ne’er thought of ye as a coward.”
“I’m nay coward, but as I told ye before, keep your brood here because I sure as hell donna want them crossing the borders to my lands. I have enough troubles of my own.”
Fagan chuckled. “Come. Ruairi’s been expecting ye, and we’ll have some food and drink to celebrate your return.”
They entered the great hall, and Ian involuntarily burst into a smile. Tapestries remained on the walls that depicted swords, shields, and men in the throes of battle. He recalled the time when Fagan’s wife, Grace, had insisted that Ruairi remove the wall hangings before her wedding day because she didn’t favor them. Ian pursed his mouth in satisfaction when he realized Ruairi’s bollocks were still in place, and he hadn’t succumbed to the will of the women after all. Perhaps there was hope for his friend yet.
“Munro, I can nae believe ye’re standing here in my great hall as I live and breathe.” Ruairi’s straight, long, chestnut hair had traces of red and fell to his shoulder blades. A plaid rested over his shoulder, and he sported the traditional Sutherland kilt. With a broadsword sheathed at his waist, his friend looked exactly as Ian had remembered him. “Fàilte. Ciamar a tha thu?” Ruairi asked warmly. Welcome. How are you?
“Tha gu math.” I am fine. Ian embraced the man who was like a brother to him. “ʼTis good to see ye, Ruairi.” Without warning, a hand clasped Ian’s shoulder from behind, and he turned.
“I’m glad to see ye did nae live up to your promise. Ye did set foot on Da’s lands again.”
“Torquil?” With his reddish-brown hair and green eyes, Torquil was the picture of Ruairi. “Ye have grown. Soon I think there might be a need to fear ye on the battlefield. What age is upon ye now, lad?”
The man who was no longer a boy smiled from ear to ear. “I am fifteen.”
A lovely lass stood beside Torquil, and she was poking him in the ribs with her finger. “Fifteen, perhaps, but he behaves more like he’s ten.” Blond locks framed her oval face. She had sparkling blue eyes and wore an emerald dress that hugged her young frame.
“Lady Katherine?” asked Ian.
“Yes, it’s lovely to see you again, Laird Munro.”
Ian shook his head as if he’d consumed too much ale. He couldn’t believe so much had changed. The last time he’d seen the girl she was only nine. Ruairi’s wife approached them, and her wealth of red hair dangled in loose tendrils that softened her face. She’d always looked elegant and graceful, and Ian was glad to see some things hadn’t changed.
He kissed the top of her hand. “Lady Ravenna, ye’re still as bonny as the day that I met ye.”
“Thank you, Laird Munro. Although I don’t know how much longer I’ll appear this way.” She lowered her hands and cradled her stomach in a gentle gesture. “Ruairi and I are expecting another child. We’re hoping for a son to have a brother for Mary.”
“Another bairn?” He forced a demure smile. “Please accept my condolen…er, congratulations to ye both.”
Lady Katherine clapped her hands together. “I’m delighted that I’m going to be an aunt again. I do hope Ravenna has another girl.”
Ian didn’t know what to say in the presence of the women, but Torquil was the only man among them who found his voice.
“Kat, donna even jest about something like that. I think ye might put Da in an early grave.”
Ruairi gave Ian a knowing look.
“If it wasn’t for me and my sisters, this castle—and the men within it—would be running wild. You should be thankful you have us here to keep you all out of harm’s way.”
Torquil playfully wrapped his arm around Kat’s neck and rubbed his knuckles over the top of her head. “I do like it when ye try.”
Ian would be sure to pray long and hard that Ravenna carried a boy because the last Ruairi needed was another cunning female under his roof. If it wasn’t bad enough that Ravenna was a “retired” English spy, her haughty sister, Grace, had even married Fagan. Oh, and that wasn’t all the poor bastard was made to endure. After Ruairi had spoken his vows, he’d taken in all three of his wife’s sisters.
As Ravenna took her leave from the hall, Kat wandered off with Torquil. The men took their seats at the long wooden table on the dais, and Ruairi poured them all a drink. He placed a tankard in front of Ian and smiled. “Here. Ye look like ye could use one—or many.”
“Och, aye.” He lifted the tankard to his lips and spotted something over the rim. Kat and Torquil sat on a bench…together, close. Ian briefly closed his eyes. The two of them used to run away from each other, avoiding the other like the plague. Now he wouldn’t be shocked if he saw the two holding hands or making wooing gestures toward one another.
A growl escaped him. “Something in my gut told me that I should’ve just met all of ye in London.” His mouth pulled into a sour grin, and Ruairi waved him off.
“There’s only so much Ravenna and her uncle can do to keep King James at bay. We’ve been fortunate that we have nae had to attend court in years. Besides, with the recent passing of Prince Henry, we should pay our respects to the king in order to stay in his good graces. I thought it would be good for us to travel to London at the same time. More to the point, ye know how much we enjoy the pleasure of your company. We always have such a damn good time when we’re together, eh?” Ruairi held up his tankard in mock salute.
Ian lifted a brow. “Aye. I remember all the good times we’ve had with the Gordon, Stewart, mercenaries, and let’s nae forget about the English spies ye shelter under your roof.”
A young woman stepped in front of the dais and cleared her throat. She had reddish-brown hair that hung in loose waves down her back. Her figure was slender and regal, and Ian could’ve easily drowned in her emerald eyes. But what captured his attention the most was the way the lass carried herself—confident, yet seemingly unaware of her true beauty.
She wore a black gown with hanging sleeves, and the embroidered petticoat under her skirts was lined in gray. With the added reticella laced collar and cuffs dyed with yellow starch, she looked as though she should’ve been at the English court rather than in the Scottish Highlands.
“Pardon me, Ruairi. Ravenna wanted me to tell you that we’re taking little Mary to the beach. We won’t be long. We’ll be in the garden until the mounts are readied, if you need us.”
When the woman’s eyes met Ian’s, something clicked in his mind. His face burned as he remembered. He shifted in the seat and pulled his tunic away from his chest. Why was the room suddenly hot? He felt like he was suffocating in the middle of the Sutherland great hall.
God help him.
This was the same young chit who had pined after him, following him around the castle and nipping at his heels like Angus, Ruairi’s black wolf. But like everything else that had transformed around here, so had she. She was no longer a girl but had become an enchantress—still young, but beautiful nevertheless. His musings were interrupted by a male voice.
“Munro, ye do remember Lady Elizabeth, eh?”
How could he forget the reason why he’d avoided Sutherland lands for the past three years?