I am really pleased to bring you an exclusive excerpt of May McGoldrick’s second book in the Royal Highlander series: Highland Jewel. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, Highland Crown, (Frolic review), and this book promises to be just as good.
About Highland Jewel
Maisie Murray’s sweet, docile exterior masks the courageous spirit of a firebrand determined to champion women’s suffrage with like-minded friends. But fighting for her principles has swept her directly into harm’s way–and into the arms of a man she cannot resist.
A trained officer with the Royal Highland Regiment, Niall Campbell has spent his life serving the Crown. Battle-weary and searching for peace, he nothing to do with trouble–until he meets Maisie. But unless Niall and Maisie can find a way to stand up to the destructive forces that threaten to divide them, long-buried secrets and political schemes are destined to stand in the way of the glorious love they’ve found.
[Reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Publishing Group.]
Maisie Murray leaned over the edge of the stone parapet of the ancient tower, stared to the south and the range of mountains in the distance, and thought of her life as it was now, and the man she’d left behind in Edinburgh. Lieutenant Niall Campbell.
Sadness, like a fist, squeezed her heart. More than four months had passed since she’d last seen him. Maisie would never forget their last day together in his rooms at Milne’s Court. She loved him and believed he loved her too, regardless of what he’d said after. His departing words put a painful end to all of their dreams.
I’ll not be coming back. You are free of the promises we made. You must forget me.
Never. To forget him was to forsake hope, to surrender all belief in tomorrow, to accept that she was to be deprived of love for the rest of her life. He was the first man she’d offered her heart to, and he’d be the last.
Maisie wondered where he was now. She shook with fear, thinking that he hadn’t survived the things he was being forced to do. Not knowing what his mission was or where he had to go was crushing. Tears threatened to fall, and she took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the scent of pine and heather. She wouldn’t give up. No mourning, Maisie told herself. He was only lost. He’d be found again. She was certain of it. She forced herself to believe it.
Her gaze was drawn to a hawk, wheeling in the blue sky far above her.
The sounds of children playing in the courtyard below mingled with the hammering of the smith at his forge and pulled Maisie’s attention back to the life around her. This was her new world. She could now only dream of Niall and her old existence. She’d found her voice on the streets of Edinburgh. She’d marched and protested and spoken out against the unjust treatment of the Scottish people. Against the hated Corn Laws, Parliament’s oppressive response to famine and chronic unemployment. The horrid economic conditions and the lack of universal suffrage in Scotland needed to be fought. The people had risen, and she’d been there on the front lines, speaking at gatherings and spreading the word with her pen.
Here in the Highlands, she was still finding her way, but she was using the sharp, concise power of the written word to fight for her cause. She was writing articles and letters that were finding publishers in Edinburgh and Inverness. She would not let go of her convictions in this new world, no matter how far off her old life seemed.
The sound of footsteps running up the stone steps behind her drew Maisie to the top of the stairwell. It was Morrigan. The two of them had arrived at Dalmigavie together. Sisters, not by blood, but by choice and by family relations.
“They’re here.” Morrigan’s long, dark hair glinted in the sunlight.
Breathless, she pushed by Maisie and moved to the parapet. “The men coming from the Borders. The ones who everyone has been waiting for.”
Maisie stood beside Morrigan as she leaned out, scanning the courtyard. For days, the air had been crackling with a mixture of threat and expectation. British forces were after the son of Scotland. The threat of an attack on the castle or the possibility of an assassination attempt on Cinaed’s life had kept everyone on edge. At the same time, a delegation was coming from the Borders. Maisie had no idea what the arrival of those people meant, or what they were to bring with them. But the Mackintosh clan folk were talking about the messengers as if they were messiahs.
“Look.” Morrigan pointed.
Maisie leaned over the edge and saw the group approaching the entry to the Great Hall.
Beneath her, Cinaed stepped out into the courtyard, and Blair Mackintosh crossed the open space to take his usual protective place beside him. Searc Mackintosh, a cousin to the laird, led the three visitors, and the clan chief was speaking with one of them, a burly, well-dressed gentleman.
Maisie’s gaze was instantly drawn to one of the other newcomers. The wide brim of his hat shadowed his face, but there was something about the confident steps, the motion of his hand as he talked. The broad shoulders. His impressive height. Awareness flashed through her, and Maisie’s heart skipped a beat.
It couldn’t be. She walked along the edge of the tower, following the men’s steps below. Morrigan’s voice was silenced by the loud drumming of Maisie’s heart. She stared, afraid to blink. Afraid he would disappear. It couldn’t be.
The men stopped before entering the keep. The visitor pulled off his hat, and Maisie forgot to breathe.
“What’s wrong?” Morrigan clutched her arm. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
She opened her mouth to speak, but no words emerged.
Niall was here.
About the Author:
USA Today Bestselling Authors Nikoo and Jim wrote their first MAY MCGOLDRICK romance using historical figures that Jim researched while earning a PhD in sixteenth-century Scottish and English literature. Nikoo, a mechanical engineer, is a born storyteller. She is all about characters and feeling. Jim is about action and sense of place. Together, they have crafted over forty fast-paced, conflict-filled historical and contemporary novels and two works of nonfiction under the pseudonyms May McGoldrick and Jan Coffey.
The next book in the new lush Scottish historical series from USA Today bestselling author, May McGoldrick.
A REBEL AT HEART
Maisie Murray’s sweet, docile exterior masks the courageous spirit of a firebrand determined to champion women’s suffrage with like-minded friends. But fighting for her principles has swept her directly into harm’s way—and into the arms of a man she cannot resist.
A WARRIOR BY BLOOD
A trained officer with the Royal Highland Regiment, Niall Campbell has spent his life serving the Crown. Battle-weary and searching for peace, he nothing to do with trouble—until he meets Maisie. But unless Niall and Maisie can find a way to stand up to the destructive forces that threaten to divide them, long-buried secrets and political schemes are destined to stand in the way of the glorious love they’ve found…