Maggie McCallum was only sixteen and Owen Duff eighteen the autumn their families spent in Edinburgh. Her mother had said she was too young for courtship, but Maggie secretly scoffed at that. Men looked at her now, and she was finally allowing herself to give a flirtatious look back.
And then at a dancing assembly, she saw Owen, Viscount Duncraggan, heir to the earldom of Aberfoyle. She’d met him only once before, at a dinner with their parents. She’d been twelve, he fourteen, and he’d ignored her. Now a friend giggled and pointed him out.
“He’s from the Duff clan,” the girl said. “Even I ken that the McCallums and the Duffs have always despised each other.”
Maggie nodded without really listening. She was staring at Owen with wide, curious eyes. He did not wear a belted plaid as so many of her family did, but an expensive tailored coat and waistcoat over knee breeches, and the polished sword at his hip sparkled in the candlelight when he strode across the dance floor to bow to a blushing girl. He had a thin face and bony shoulders that hinted at the broad strength of the man he would become. His sandy hair was gathered in a haphazard queue on his neck, loose strands brushing his cheeks as if he were too busy to be bothered fastening it more securely.
“Isn’t your brother to marry his sister? Ye’ll be practically family.”
Family or not, Maggie knew better than to be the McCallum who approached a Duff in public, right in front of her mother. She thought of her brother’s misery at marrying a woman he didn’t know or love, the way he’d done foolish, reckless things in anger when he’d first discovered his fate at thirteen. Maggie had pitied him, and felt guilty that she was secretly glad it wasn’t she forced to marry a Duff.
Her next meeting with Owen wasn’t auspicious—she merely passed him on the stairs outside her flat on High Street, as dusk settled in dark waves on Edinburgh. The tall building with a dozen floors housed all manner of people, from the chimney sweep in the cellar to the dancing master in the garret. The best floors were reserved for noblemen, and though her father didn’t have a title, he was the chief of the Clan McCallum. Her mother had leased the flat to be near the earl’s family, since her son was marrying into them, but she did not want her daughter involved beyond what civility expected.
The last warmth from their kiss deserted Maggie. Shivering, she sat up and scooted away from him, covering her chest as if it was bared to him.
“Why did ye never tell me this?” she demanded. She’d let herself get lost in the fairy tale of their friendship, and the romance she’d thought had been blossoming. Now she knew she was simply a fool.
Owen tucked his hair back into the queue, as if he needed something to do with his hands. He didn’t look at her, and his face was as red as hers felt, but she didn’t feel any sympathy for him.
His words came out slowly at first, before tumbling over each other as fast as the rippling water behind him. “At first, I thought we were simply friends, and to know ye were a McCallum made it daring. But the need to kiss ye has been dominating my thoughts more and more.”
He met her gaze at last, and she felt like she’d never forget the heat she saw there, the passion he was showing just for her. But he was betrothed, and a lump rose high up into her throat, shutting off any words. She scrambled to her feet and backed away from him before she would embarrass herself more by crying. “I—I have to go.”
The Groom Wore Plaid: Highland Weddings
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Weddings
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (February 23, 2016)
Author's Webstie: http://www.gaylecallen.com/
Notes: I received an eARC loan for review purposes.
Maggie McCallum is engaged to be married to the Laird of her clan's enemy. The arranged marriage is an attempt to end the centuries long feud between their two clans. Not everyone is happy about the marriage, however, and Maggie soon finds herself the target of someone's vicious hatred. To complicate matters more, she has a dream about her soon to be husband, and her dreams have a tendency to come true. If the dream is correct, shortly after saying their 'I dos' her husband will be killed. Now, in order to save the life of the man she's slowly falling in love with she'll have to convince him the wedding can't take place.
Owen Duff, Earl of Aberfoyle and Laird of clan Duff, always insisted he'd only marry a woman of his own choice. When his father tried to weasel his way out of the marriage contract between his sister and the Laird of clan McCallum, he stepped in before things could escalate to a full fledged war and offered to marry Maggie. Years ago the two had been romantically involved, but things hadn't ended well when Owen revealed he was engaged. Shortly thereafter, Maggie had a dream that Owen's fiance would die a tragic death by drowning. When she told Owen what was to come, instead of believing her, he dismissed her warning as a childish attempt to get back at him for not revealing he was engaged sooner. When she reveals her latest dream to him, he again dismisses it as childish antics, this time assuming it's her feeble attempt to get out of marrying him. Determined the wedding will go on, he'll pull out all the stops to prove to Maggie she'll like being married to him by showing her just how enjoyable the relationship will be.
Follow her on Twitter – https://twitter.com/GayleCallen
'Like' her on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/GayleCallen
Follow her on Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/46974.Gayle_Callen
Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com