Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my RT Book Reviews interview. Today I’m equally delighted to share the second part: an excerpt from the second book in the Penhallow Dynasty series, The Laird Takes a Bride, coming your way this August.
Here’s a snippet from Chapter 2, in which my heroine Fiona Douglass learns that she’s going to have to participate in a Bachelor-like competition.
Father came striding in, his muddy boots leaving a damp, malodorous trail behind him. In one hand he held an opened letter which he tossed at Fiona.
“You’re off to Castle Tadgh, girl,” he said.
“What? Why?” she demanded.
Frowning, Fiona picked up the paper from the floor at her feet and scanned both sides. “This is addressed to me.”
Father shrugged, and Mother said in a high, excited voice, “What on earth is going on?”
“Alasdair Penhallow’s to choose a bride from among the eligible lasses of the Eight Clans, that’s what’s going on. I suppose I’ll have to reinstate her dowry. Although those drains in the turnip fields are clogging in a bad way.”
Penhallow, thought Fiona, her brain spinning frantically. Penhallow again! Then she seized upon one pertinent element. “I’m sure I’m too old for this, Father!”
He only gave her a wolfish smile. “Read the letter.”
She did. And glared at Father. “It says here that if I were twenty-eight, I’d be past the age of eligibility. This is ridiculous! Demeaning! I’d rather die than traipse off to Castle Tadgh to be displayed like a sheep before some reprobate!”
In a disbelieving voice Fiona read out loud: “‘The consequence for failing to abide by sacred clan law is death. Said female to be weighted with stones and flung into the nearest loch known to have a depth greater than twenty feet. Bagpipe accompaniment optional.’”
“How romantic!” put in Cousin Isobel, wreathed in smiles. “Fiona, dear, what a wonderful opportunity for you!”
Fiona glared at her, too, wishing she could hang a millstone around that dame’s plump neck and shove her into the closest body of water.
“You’re to leave tomorrow,” said Father.
“Tomorrow?” Mother exclaimed. “But I couldn’t possibly be ready to leave by then!”
“Oh, you’re not going,” Father told her, then looked over at Fiona, his eyes twinkling maliciously. “I’m sending Isobel as her chaperone.”
There was a stunned silence.
“No!” said Fiona with revulsion, even as Cousin Isobel gave a little shriek of delight and said:
“My dear Bruce! What an honor! You can be sure I’ll take very, very good care of dear Fiona!”
Fiona shot her a malevolent glance. Yes, just as you did in Edinburgh nine years ago, you old bat, when I came for a nice long visit. Encouraging Logan Munro’s advances to me. Leaving us alone together, when you knew it was wrong. And look what happened. I fell head over heels in love with him, and expected to marry him. Only it didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?
Mother faltered, “But surely I ought to go . . . I simply assumed —”
“My mind’s made up, madam. We’ll have no further discussion on the topic. Besides, they won’t be gone long. Penhallow will take one look at her and I reckon that’ll be that.”
A soft, incomprehensible murmur of distress came from Mother but she didn’t dare to actually say anything, and Fiona responded, with a politeness that imperfectly concealed deep irony, “Why, thank you, Father. Everyone says I take after you, after all.”