Cover image for Reiver's bride
Reiver's bride
Scott, Amanda.
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Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
385 pages ; 18 cm.
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X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Library

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When reivers attack Lady Anne Ellyson, she finds their leader is Sir Christopher Chisholm, her cousin's betrothed, long lost and declared dead. His uncle has usurped his inheritance, title and bride-to-be, so Anne promises to reunite Kit with her cousin, though she thinks she will regret it.

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Booklist Review

While out riding one evening, Anne Ellyson unexpectedly encounters some reivers, but even more surprising to Anne is finding her cousin Fiona's former fiance, Christopher Kit Chisholm, among the group. Almost two years ago Christopher disappeared, and soon after, his uncle Eustace took control of Kit's title, his lands, and his betrothed. Convinced that Kit is a much better choice of a husband for Fiona, Anne vows to do whatever she can to bring them together and help Kit reclaim his inheritance. The only problem is that the more involved with Kit Ann becomes, the more the difficult it is to imagine the wickedly handsome rogue marrying anyone other than herself! Scott creatively uses the complicated border politics between England and Scotland of the time in her fourth Secret Clan book, which features the same intriguing mix of romance, adventure, and a sprinkling of magic as the wee folk continue to play matchmaker with mortals. --John Charles Copyright 2003 Booklist



The Highlands, a week after Easter Sunday, 1541 The party of riders made its way uphill under a heavily overcast sky, their narrow pathway flanked by steep, bluebell-laden woods. The air was cold, damp, and heavy, the gloom perfectly reflecting the mood of at least one of the riders. Barbara MacRae, Bab to her family and close friends, was bored and fed up with behaving politely when she felt murderous. She would rather have stayed at court with her brother and friends to continue celebrating the end of Lent and the recent birth of the Duke of Albany, the King's second son, but Sir Patrick MacRae had taken one of his rare pets and ordered her home to the Highlands instead. Somehow, Patrick had got it into his head that she did not belong at court, that she had cozened their mother into taking her there and then into leaving her there when Lady MacRae returned home to Ardintoul. Some of what he believed was perfectly true, of course, but what had he expected? Had he not left home eight months before without so much as telling her where he was going? Surely he had not expected her to live forever at Ardintoul like a nun in a cloister, but he had not even done her the courtesy of letting her know that he was returning or, worse, that he was returning with a wife. Of course, if he had sent a message home, Bab would not have been there to receive it, but she knew he had not sent one, so that was a mere bagatelle. "Barbara, my dear," Lady Chisholm said gently, "you should put up your hood, for it is chilly with the snow still clinging to the mountains as it is, and I believe it is coming on to drizzle again." Bab managed a smile as she reached obediently for the hood of her crimson cloak, saying, "I vow, madam, 'tis a miserable day for traveling. Sir Alex was wise to remain at Stirling. Indeed, I am sure we all should have stayed there, for I warrant the castle's hall fires are blazing away, keeping everyone warm and dry." "It is true enough that our Alex will be warm, wherever he is," Lady Chisholm said with a chuckle. "He is a man who always looks out for his own comfort. But to be fair, my dear, your brother did ask him to linger, and we agreed that his lordship would more swiftly recover his customary health and good spirits at Dundreggan, well away from all the political turmoil." Lady Chisholm cast a worried glance at her husband, who had rejected his son's suggestion of a litter or chair carried by running gillies, and had opted instead to ride with his wife, their servants, and Mistress MacRae. Bab had not heard until earlier that day that he had been ill, and she could see little sign of it other than a certain lassitude and her ladyship's occasional, narrow-eyed, measuring looks. Their plodding pace tried Bab's patience. They had been traveling for a sennight, and if they continued at this pace, they would be lucky to arrive at Dundreggan before the fire festival of Beltane on the first day of May. She was an excellent horsewoman, and she wanted to gallop, if only long enough to blow the fidgets from her mind. But she knew that her companions would forbid her to ride ahead even if she suggested taking along one or two of the half dozen men-at-arms that Sir Alex had provided to protect them. He had said he did not expect them to encounter trouble, but then Sir Alex, a hedonist to the bone, never expected to meet trouble anywhere. He was far more interested in seeing to his own gentle pleasures. Before meeting him recently at court, she had not seen him since just before Patrick had gone away. Chisholm and his lady had invited them both to take part in the welcoming party when the newly styled Sir Alex returned after two years of traveling on the Continent. At the time, the family was still reeling from the deaths of his two older brothers, which had occurred that previous Easter Sunday, when Sir Robert Chisholm and his brother Michael apparently died at the hands of a cousin who had gone mad, murdered them, and then had disappeared. Sir Alex's welcome at Dundreggan had therefore been a quiet one, but Lord and Lady Chisholm had wanted to celebrate the return of their sole surviving son, now Chisholm's heir, and Sir Alex had seemed glad to be home. Bab had thought the continental journey an energetic, even uncharacteristic undertaking for the young man she knew as a friend of her brother's. To be sure, Alex had gone at his father's behest to represent the family at the proxy wedding of James, High King of Scots, to Marie de Guise at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. But Bab knew that his brothers and hers had teased Alex unmercifully before he left, assuring him that Chisholm was at outs with the King and thus had decided to send the least of his sons to attend him. They told him as well that they were certain he would never reach Paris in time for the ceremony, that he would get lost along the way or be overcome by thieves or murderers. Bab knew that Patrick, Robert, and Michael had frequently teased Alex so because he scorned to engage in most of the pastimes that they enjoyed. Patrick was an expert with a sword, dirk, longbow, and crossbow, and his reputation as a falconer was of one with an almost magical way with birds of prey. The elder Chisholm brothers had likewise been expert swordsmen and fighters, but Patrick had said that Alex barely knew one end of a sword from the other. Thus, the two seemed oddly matched as friends, but they had known each other from childhood and Patrick admired Alex's wit and his social skills. Bab, however, preferred men of action like her brother and their friend Fin Mackenzie, Laird of Kintail, while Sir Alex apparently had spent his time on the Continent seeking out the finest tailors and dancing masters. Although she knew Alex had also studied at the famed Sorbonne in Paris, the plain truth was that he had become too Frenchified for the plainspoken Mistress MacRae, and as their recent encounter at Stirling had demonstrated, a year at home had done nothing to improve him. Lady Chisholm was again narrowly observing his lordship. To Bab, Chisholm looked as he always did, although he had aged a good deal in the past nine months. He was tall like his son, but Sir Alex was slender and glib, while Chisholm was burly and blunt-spoken. For many years, she knew, his lordship had served as the Sheriff of Inverness-shire, and his customary brusque manner was that of a man who expected instant obedience. That brusqueness was missing today, but he sat straight in his saddle, his continued grim silence the only indication of his weariness. At least the rain that had fallen intermittently since morning had not yet begun again. "How much farther do we travel today?" she asked Lady Chisholm. "Not far, thank heaven," her ladyship replied quietly. "We are to stay the night with friends in the next glen. Indeed, if I thought Chisholm would agree to it, I'd claim hospitality there for several days to let him rest." "Would he not agree?" "There is not the slightest chance," Lady Chisholm said, still speaking in an undertone that would not carry to his ears. "Once he is on his way home, it is all I can do to persuade him to halt each night long enough to-" She broke off with a cry of dismay when her horse reared, nearly unseating her, as a half dozen armed riders burst out of the woods ahead of them. Bab reacted swiftly, controlling her own mount with one hand as she reached with the other and grabbed the rearing horse's bridle. "Giorsal, Clarice, this way," she shouted to the two waiting women who accompanied them. "Madam, follow me!" Wheeling her horse and noting with satisfaction that the attackers were fully engaged in fighting the armed men of the Chisholm party, and that Lady Chisholm had regained control of her horse, she led the women back the way they had come. As she spurred, she murmured a brief prayer that her ladyship, who favored a padded, boxlike woman's saddle, would not be thrown from it by such rough riding. "Hurry," Bab cried over her shoulder. "The men can fight harder to protect his lordship if we are out of their way!" "We're right behind you," Lady Chisholm shouted. Bab's bay gelding was willing, but the track was steep, rutted, and rocky. Knowing better than to ride too fast, for the horses' sake as well as her own and Lady Chisholm's, she searched the thick shrubbery ahead for an opening that would let them seek shelter in the dense woodland. At the first such place, however, four more riders emerged from the forest and blocked the path. Their leader wore a black cloak and mask. Bab had no choice but to rein in, but when he yanked off his mask, revealing his face, she exclaimed in relief, "Thank God, Francis Dalcross! I vow, I have never in my life been so glad to see anyone. Ruffians attacked our party down in that glen. You must ride at once to help them!" "I doubt they'll need my help," he replied blandly, staying where he was. "Don't be-" Something in his expression silenced her, and she gazed warily from him to the men flanking him. Francis Dalcross was tall and broad shouldered with light brown hair, blue eyes, and a charming smile. At Stirling, she had found him fascinating. Indeed, he had been her most ardent suitor there and the most favored-except, of course, by Patrick, who favored no man unless one counted the faintly amused preference he showed Sir Alex Chisholm. And one never counted Sir Alex. Now Dalcross sat easily on his chestnut horse, regarding her thoughtfully with a slight smile, but any charm that smile had ever suggested to her was gone. Uneasily, she glanced at Lady Chisholm, who like their two waiting women, remained silent. Her ladyship was staring fixedly at Francis Dalcross, her expression wooden except for a muscle twitching high in her cheek. "What means this, sir?" Bab demanded. "Why do you not help us?" "Well, you see, my sweet, those ruffians you mentioned are my ruffians." "Yours! But why?" "For you, of course." His blue eyes twinkled as he added, "You did tell me more than once, did you not, how you long for adventure. Have you not heard of Sionnach Dubh , the Black Fox of the Highlands?" He bowed, grinning now. She gaped at him. "Don't be absurd," she snapped when she could speak. " Sionnach Dubh is a bairn's tale, not a real person! In any event, you cannot be such an iron-witted daffy as to think I meant you to do anything so outrageous as this! If those horrid men of yours have hurt his lordship or anyone else, I vow I ... I-" She broke off, unable to think of a punishment severe enough for such a crime. "I am real enough, mistress," he said evenly. Then, to the men with him, he said, "Take Lady Chisholm and her women back to their party, lads. I'll keep my lass with me. Chisholm and his people may continue their journey to Dundreggan, but do not let them try to follow us, and mention the Fox as often as you like." "Wait!" Bab cried as his men moved to obey. "What are you going to do?" "Why, nothing dreadful, my sweet. You will simply come with me, which I promise you will find more entertaining than life at Dundreggan Castle. 'Tis a dour and dreary pile, believe me, well suited to the dreary Chisholms and their ilk." "But I don't want to go with you!" "Sakes, mistress," he said, "I expected you to be thrilled by my daring rescue. You cannot want to molder away at Dundreggan, putting up with that sappie-headed blether-skate, Alex Chisholm, whilst you wait for your brother to collect you and bury you alive at Ardintoul." Although she had been bemoaning this exact fate less than a quarter-hour before, Bab disliked the alternative more. Watching his men lead the other women off down the trail, she said curtly, "Do you want to ruin me?" "I want to marry you, my sweet, to add to my consequence in the shire, and if you will but consider a moment, you will realize my cleverness. Even if her ladyship does not believe that I am the Black Fox, the rumor will quickly spread that the Fox fell tail over top in love with you and carried you off." "Patrick does not believe in the Fox. He will kill you for this." "Then he will hang for his crime," Dalcross retorted. "My father is the Sheriff of Inverness-shire, after all, and I am his deputy." "Nonsense, even I know that Chisholm serves as Sheriff of Inverness." "He has not for almost a year. I assumed you knew that he had retired." "I didn't know any such thing," she said. "Nor do I know it now." "Well, it is true." "I do not pay much heed to politics," Bab admitted, "and news from Inverness rarely reaches us at Ardintoul." Sarcastically, she added, "Does Sheriff Dalcross know that his only son goes about claiming to be the Black Fox?" He smiled enigmatically but said only, "My father wisely allows himself to be guided by me, so in due time, I expect to succeed him as sheriff. I warrant you will enjoy the increased status of being the sheriff's lady." "By heaven, if you succeed in this wretched plan, I will kill you myself!" "We hang women, too, my sweet, but you may try your worst. I believe I can defend myself, whatever you do." "Does it not occur to you that, even if your plan should succeed, an unwilling wife might prove to be an uncomfortable one?" "She will soon learn to conform to my wishes, however," he replied, reaching to take her reins from her hands. "If she does not, I will make her sorry." Bab ground her teeth but said no more. As he turned their horses, it occurred to her that had anyone suggested half an hour before that she would be wishing for her brother's presence now, she would have laughed, but she could think of no grander sight than that of Patrick or Wild Fin Mackenzie leading an army of Kintail men to rescue her. It would not happen, though. They were in Stirling, days away. * * * Francis Dalcross rode ahead, leading Bab's bay gelding by its reins, leaving her nothing to do but think. Aknot of fear had settled in her midsection, but she strove to ignore it, refusing to let him see that she felt anything other than fury. She was no coward. For as long as history had recorded such matters, the MacRaes had guarded the Mackenzies and fought for them, serving them without being servants to them. Just as Patrick served Fin Mackenzie as his constable and friend, her father had served Fin's father and had died at his side in battle. The MacRaes did not sire weaklings, and she was true to her breeding. As they rode, her thoughts raced, but although her mind was willing and able, the result was small. She knew the lands and tracks of Kintail through and through, but she had rarely visited the Great Glen or its environs-only twice in her life, in fact-and she had never been on this path before today. She and her mother had not traveled by road to Stirling. Instead, they had gone from Kintail down the west coast to Dumbarton in a sea galley rowed by strong oarsmen and aided by lugsails and a stiff wind from the north. Continues... Excerpted from The Secret Clan by Amanda Scott Copyright © 2003 by Lynne Scott-Drennan Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.