X Marks the Scot--Available Now
Book 2 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands--
He was a Highland rogue—
wicked with a bow and just as wicked with the ladies.
Declan MacGregor hadn’t a care in the world beyond finding a soft bed and willing woman…until he had to escort Lady Liadain Campbell to the English court. The woman needles him at every turn, but he can’t just abandon her to that vipers’ nest without protection.
She never asked for a bodyguard…
Liadain wasn’t thrilled to be left in the care of her clan’s archrival. It was as if the man never had a lady tell him no before! And yet as whispers of treason swirl through the court and the threat of danger grows ever sharper, her bitter enemy soon becomes the only one she can trust…
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"Sparks all around the place when these two are together! If you are a historical romance lover, this series is a must-try no matter what! Buy, borrow, put on your next to-buy list and TBR pile!"
―Proserpine Craving Books
Score: 5/5 - Reviewer Top Pick!
"Enthralling Highlander romance. One of the best Highlander stories I've ever read. This is one author who just keeps on getting better."
―Night Owl Reviews
"I found myself emotionally drawn to the characters as well as their imperfections and personality quirks. Victoria writes an amazing story of love and revenge, betrayal and hurt."
―The Reading Cafe
"A lovely read of love and dedication between the two families."
―Babs Book Bistro
"Roberts' uses the typical marriage-of-convenience storyline, but because of the high degree of sexual tension between the dynamic characters, the story becomes one readers are pulled into emotionally. For a complex story brimming over with pride and passion, betrayal, trust and most of all the power to make a bad boy a hero, pick up this read." RT Rating: 4 1/2 Stars Review
―RT Book Reviews
"I LOVED this book. It was an excellent historical romance, just wonderful. I adored the first in the series, so I hoped for the best with book two. And, wow, did it deliver. Never a dull moment, the story was excellent. And the ending was utter perfection."
―Imagine a World
"But most enchanting is getting to share an adventure with the irascible Declan and the determined Liadain as they mature and come into their own through emotional upheavals, near-death experiences, and an awakening of love that revs up the heart rate and heats the blood—love scenes sizzle.
Like the previous books in this series, X Marks the Scot is a keeper."
―Long and Short Reviews
Royal Court, England, 1604
“Get up, ye whoreson.”
Praying he was still in an ale-induced state and only dreaming, Declan MacGregor of Glenorchy slowly opened his eyes as he felt the prick of cold steel against his throat. A man with graying hair at his temples stood a hairbreadth away from the bed, dagger in hand.
A muscle ticked in the man’s jaw. “Get up,” he said through clenched teeth.
The blonde in the bed next to Declan—what was her name?—gasped and tugged up the blanket to cover her exposed breasts. Her eyes widened in fear.
“Ye defiled my daughter,” the stranger growled.
Declan raised his hands in mock surrender. “I assure ye that I didnae.” He stole a sideways glance at the woman and silently pleaded for his latest conquest to come to his aid.
“Papa?” The fair-skinned beauty sat up on the bed. “What are ye doing here?”
Glancing at his daughter, the man spoke in clipped tones. “This whoreson had ye and will wed ye.”
“Now just a bloody minute. I…”
Whipping his head back around, the enraged father glared at Declan, repositioning the dagger—much lower. Feeling the contact of the blade, Declan took a sharp intake of breath while the woman sprang from the bed as though it was afire. Hastily, she grabbed her clothing and started to don her attire.
He silently chuckled, realizing the irony of the moment. What would Ciaran think? Declan had chosen to remain at court to escape his older brother’s scrutiny, now only to be thrown deeper into hot water. In fact, it was scalding.
The fair-colored lass rolled her eyes at her father. “Really, Papa, ye must cease your attempts at matchmaking. I donna wish to wed him.”
She pulled on her father’s dagger-held hand, thankfully removing the blade from the most favorite part of Declan’s anatomy. He breathed a sigh of relief when he reached down and felt that his most prized possession was still intact.
What the hell had he gotten himself into? The gods knew he had needs, but if he wasn’t more selective of the women he bedded, the fairer sex would surely be the death of him.
He needed to escape.
Declan threw back the blankets, stood, and quickly tossed his trews into the air with his foot. While father and daughter were huddled in deep conversation, he donned his trews, pulled on his tunic, grabbed his boots, and simply walked out—unnoticed and unscathed.
When would he learn that ale always led him into trouble? The last he wanted to think of was Ciaran’s constant ramblings about how he was destroying his life, but perhaps there was a string of truth to his brother’s admonishments. Not wanting to contemplate that revelation, Declan proceeded out the door for a breath of fresh air.
“MacGregor!” Sir Robert Catesby called, waving him over.
In the fortnight Declan had attended court, he had met Sir Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy several times. Upon his approach, both Englishmen smiled in greeting.
Declan nodded. “Catesby. Percy.”
“We head to shoot targets,” said Catesby, holding up his bow. “Would you like to join us?”
The corners of Declan’s lips lifted into a teasing smile. “The first time I bested ye wasnae enough? Ye are actually coming back for more?”
Catesby slapped him on the shoulder. “Perhaps it was purely luck the first time around, eh?”
“Come with us. I challenge you to a match, and we’ll see if you can equal my skill with a bow,” said Percy with a sly grin.
Declan refrained from commenting that Percy barely had any skill with a bow. At least the man did not challenge him to swordplay, for Declan knew he would be sorely lacking in that. Praise the saints for small favors.
His brothers had often tried to engage Declan to practice swordplay with the men, but he knew he could never match their prowess. So why even attempt it? Ciaran and Aiden were quite skilled, whereas he was only a third son. Besides, he was interested in more manly pursuits, such as raising things of a personal nature for the lasses. The bow, on the other hand, was another matter entirely. Declan had mastered archery as soon as he was old enough to shoot. He never really practiced it—the bow was something that came naturally to him, a gift from the gods.
A bit of sport was exactly what he needed after this morning’s spectacle. Engaging in some healthy competition might do him some good, cleanse his spirit, so to speak.
He nodded in agreement. “If ye are up for the challenge, it would be my pleasure to have ye attempt to best me again.”
“That’s the spirit,” said Percy.
The men made their way to the targets. The sun was shining and the winds were relatively calm, a great day for shooting. When they arrived at the area, a handful of men were gathered and the boards were already in place. When Declan turned, he felt like he had been punched in the gut.
Lady Liadain Campbell stood in the distance and brushed an errant curl away from her face. Her hair was the black of a starless night and hung down her back. Her high, exotic cheekbones displayed both delicacy and strength. Her lips were full and rounded over even teeth. The flush on her pale cheeks was like sunset on snow. She looked ethereal in the sunlight. Enchanting—well, that’s what he had thought the first time he held his dagger to her throat.
Percy cleared his throat. “What say you,MacGregor? Let’s have some practice shots before we compete.”
Declan laughed, reaching for the bow that Percy held. “’Tis fine with me, Percy. Ye need all the practice ye can get.” Declan adjusted the arrow and took aim. He studied the board and shot, the whizzing arrow flying out of his fingers. His eyes never left the mark.
“Well done, MacGregor! Come now, Percy. Do not let me down, young chap,” said Catesby, handing Percy his bow.
Percy adjusted the arrow. He raised the bow and took aim. His eyes narrowed and the lines on his forehead contracted. At the last moment, his elbow moved and he shot—to the left. Very far to the left.
Catesby shook his head. “Well, clearly not your best shot, man.”
Declan stepped forward. “Percy, ye study too much on the board. Think ye are one with the mark and just shoot. Donna hesitate. Try again.” Handing Percy another arrow, Declan stepped to the side. Percy raised his arm and Declan readjusted his stance. The arrow soared through the air and landed only a few inches away from the center, but closer than Percy’s prior attempt. “Ye breathed. Ye would have done much better had ye nae breathed until the arrow was released.”
Percy’s eyes widened in amazement and he chuckled. “Thank you, MacGregor. Truly. What a difference that even made. I will try not to breathe next time.”
Declan gave Percy a knowing look. “Do ye still wish to challenge me?”
“I never back down from a challenge.” Something unspoken clearly passed between Percy and Catesby before they masked their expressions.
Catesby was reaching out to hand Declan the arrows when Declan spotted the swish of a skirt out of the corner of his eye. The daft woman leisurely walked along the edge of the forest. He stifled a sigh, trying not to let his displeasure show. Quickly making his apologies to Catesby and Percy, Declan followed the lass with purposeful strides. Where did she think she was going without an escort? He had lost count of how many times he’d lectured her about that.
Lady Liadain Campbell—healer, half-sister to the late Archibald Campbell, seventh Earl of Argyll—was nothing but a thistle in his arse. He strived to be patient with her—after all, Ciaran had recently slain her brother, the bloody Campbell, the right hand of the King.
When the Campbell had disobeyed King James’s orders and abducted members of the MacGregor family, Ciaran had been left with no other alternative. The Campbell chose his fate the moment he touched the MacGregor clan. Declan supported his brother completely in that regard. His nephew’s screams of terror still plagued his thoughts. Since Ciaran still nursed a shoulder injury, he’d ordered Declan to attend court on his behalf to explain the circumstances. To Declan’s relief, Liadain Campbell had not only affirmed her brother’s treachery, but the king exonerated Ciaran.
Now she was a ward of the court, which meant there was no suitable male presence to watch over her.
And with a clan debt to be paid, he could not abandon her to all the courtly vultures. He at least owed her that much. Although he had no problem watching over her from a distance, a very far distance, times like these drove him mad.
Someone had to keep a watchful eye on the wily minx.
He increased his pace. The faster he could get to her, the better. He lost sight of her somewhere in the dense forest. Where did she wander off to now? He finally spotted her, chopping branches with her dagger.
Declan thundered toward her, his temper barely controlled. “What the hell do ye think ye are doing?” he bellowed. “Didnae I tell ye nae to—”
The obstinate woman lifted her chin, meeting his icy gaze straight on. “Ye arenae my husband, MacGregor. Ye have nay right to tell me what I can or cannae do!” she spat. She tossed her hair across her shoulders in a gesture of defiance.
He stepped toward her and reached out to clutch her arm.
She held something close to her chest and tugged away from him. “Careful, ye fool. I donna want them broken.”
He looked at her puzzled. “What is that? Sticks?” he asked, pointing to her bundle.
The lass responded sharply, “They arenae just any sticks, ye daft man. This is willow bark for healing.”
Declan smirked in response. “Willow bark? And they donna have enough for ye at court?”
She brushed past him and increased her gait. “I donna expect ye to understand.”
He grudgingly trailed behind her. “I donna want to understand. Ye need to cease wandering off by yourself. Do ye hear me?” He quickened his pace to catch up with her.
“Of course I can hear ye. Ye are bellowing at me,” she called over her shoulder.
He grabbed her shoulders and spun her around. His eyes narrowed and he studied her with curiosity. Was she completely daft? Did she have no idea of the dangers that could befall a woman without an escort? He remembered a time not long ago when he had sprung out of the brush and startled her. He could have killed her. Did she not learn a lesson?
She stiffened at his silent challenge, and her emerald eyes were sharp and assessing.
Declan chuckled at her demeanor. “Tell me, healer. What if a man found ye out here alone?” he asked, giving her body a raking gaze. “What would ye do since ye have nay escort?”
Every generous curve of her body bespoke defiance. “I came this far without your assistance and I donna need it now.” Turning on her heel, she started walking back without him—again.
Who was he to argue with a stubborn Campbell? She could bloody well walk back on her own.
Still, his conscience hammered away at him. “Wait, healer.” His voice softened, losing its steely edge. He ran up beside her and extended his arms. He did not think she would accept his offer and she obviously weighed her response.
Looking down at her bundle, she sighed. “I donna want the willow bark broken. It needs to be chopped. I donna like it snapped.”
“Here. I will carry it for ye and promise to be careful.”
Reluctantly, she released the bark into his care and they continued to walk silently. Declan was grateful for the quiet because if he heard her sharp tongue again, he might just take her back into the trees and show her what could befall a woman who was caught out here alone.