Book Six in the bestselling Highland Outlaws Series
Here’s what people are saying…
“What an exciting read! This book will hold your attention hostage until the very end.”
“This book continues the tales of The Saints as Ian and Jo take off on adventures to find true love, trust, and treasure. You’re going to love this story!”
“Danger, action, treachery, loyalty and love are steadfast in this story. The author does a brilliant job with some grand twists that actually caught me by surprise.”
To escape imminent danger, Scottish lady Jocelyn Ferguson, flees her home and the comforts of her station to live as an English commoner. She knows not who hunts her or why, only that she must trust no one.
Ian MacVie belongs to a network of secret rebels and is on a mission for Scotland when he encounters a peasant girl, Jo, traveling alone. She refuses his offer of escort, but Scotland’s ‘gentle giant’ cannot allow a woman to traverse war-torn lands alone. He vows to protect her–a mission that will turn more perilous than any that came before, because what neither of them realize is that Jo is the key to ridding Scotland of English tyranny once and for all.
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Enjoy an excerpt of Ian: A Scottish Outlaw
Haddington Abbey, Scottish Highlands 1306
A full moon shone high in the sky as Ian raced up the steps of Haddington Abbey and pounded his fist on the chapel door. “Open up! I need to speak with the abbot!” Hearing the sudden shuffling of feet and muffled voices coming from inside, he ceased his knocking. Moments later, the door swung wide. Two monks filled the entrance, one holding a candle high over his head, illuminating his deeply furrowed brow, which eased an instant later. “Master Ian, what are ye doing here at this hour? ‘Tis nearly Matins.”
“I need to see the abbot,” he barked. “Step aside…please,” he added, remembering himself, but that was the only courtesy his fury would allow. He didn’t have time for niceties. “I will show myself to his room,” he boomed, barreling past the monks, their mouths gaping open in surprise.
“But he’s sleeping!”
“I’ll wake him up,” he called back, then hastened down the aisle, making the sign of the cross as he passed a side altarpiece with Jesus and the Virgin Mary at its center, flanked by the naked figures of Adam and Eve. Hurrying down a columned hallway, he broke into a run when he reached the cloisters. Then, he cut across the courtyard and raced into the monks’ dormitory.
“Abbot,” he called before his knuckles had even made contact with the slatted door. Not waiting for permission to enter, he swung the door wide and stepped inside, his gaze immediately settling on the narrow platform bed in the corner, but it was empty. Surprised, he scanned the room, finding the abbot sitting in one of the rough-hewn, wooden chairs in front of the blazing hearth.
Abbot Matthew met Ian’s gaze. “I wondered how long it would take ye to beat down my door.”
“Then ye’ve heard?”
The abbot nodded, his face impassive.
Ian raked his hand through his hair. “Ye know what I must do, then.”
“Ye needn’t do anything,” the abbot said calmly.
Ian’s eyes flashed wide. “Bishop Lamberton has been arrested for the role he played in bringing about the Bruce’s coronation!”
Abbot Matthew nodded. “I ken.”
“Then why do ye sit there when ye should be assembling the agents? We have to break him out!”
To Ian’s dismay, the abbot did not lunge to his feet. He merely raised his brows, seemingly not alarmed by Ian’s impassioned plea. “That would be most foolhardy. Whatever put such an idea into yer head?”
Ian’s mouth fell open, but he pushed through his confusion. “Did ye fall and hit yer head or something, Abbot? Mayhap, ye didn’t hear me right. The bishop is being charged with treason and is locked away in the Tower of London. Ramsay’s arrival is imminent. Then we ride to London and—”
“And what?” The abbot arched his brow. “And get yerselves and the bishop killed?”
“How can ye say that? Do ye doubt our skills?” Ian whirled around and stormed back toward the door. “We’re breaking him out, with or without yer support.”
“Steady, Ian. The bishop does not require yer assistance.”
Ian froze, his fingers gripping the latch. “Have ye more news?”
The abbot walked toward him and outstretched a placating hand. “Listen to me. Ye’re upset, and I ken why, but ye must try and calm down.”
“Calm down! Do ye not ken what will happen to him if he’s found guilty? He’ll be drawn and quartered. We have to save him!”
“Breathe, Ian. No one is going to rip the man apart. He’s a bishop. His Holy Orders, and only his Holy Orders, will save him. If ye and Ramsay interfere, ye’re bound to get yerselves and the bishop killed.”
Ian backed away from the door and started pacing, raw fury coursing through him, clouding his thoughts. He fought to understand the abbot’s reasoning when all he wanted to do was start building the plan that would free the bishop and bring him home to Scotland. He whirled around, looking the abbot hard in the eye. “Ye cannot expect me to stand by and do nothing.”
“Ye’re right, not when there’s work to be done. Scotland’s army was decimated at Methven, and our king has fled to the Hebrides where he hides in a cave like a common outlaw. Ye’d best not stand around—not when we’ve an army to rebuild.”
Ian stopped pacing, but still his heart pounded. “I thought we had finally done it,” he growled, venting his fury. “I stood with the bishop at Scone and watched the Countess of Buchan place Scotland’s crown on the Bruce’s head, and now…”
“I ken,” the abbot said, his tone placating. “We’re facing more setbacks. We cannot change what has transpired, but we keep going. We keep fighting.”
Ian turned away, his anger still red-hot.
“Listen to me. Ye and Ramsay are two of my finest agents. Ye can’t go after the bishop—it would be suicide. Scotland needs ye. I need ye.” The abbot moved to stand alongside him. “Come on, lad. Do not let yer temper be yer guide, no matter what color hair ye have.”
Ian closed his eyes and pictured the waves lapping the shores of Colonsay, a small island in the Hebrides where his family—all outlaws to the crown—hid away from the brutal reaches of Longshanks. Conjuring the pungent scent of the sea air, he began to feel his rage dissipate. When his calm returned, a smile tugged at his lips, and he glanced sidelong at the abbot. “Rose is always telling me that I’ve a temper to match my hair.”
The abbot chuckled, looking rather relieved, owing, no doubt, to Ian’s newfound calm. “I’m not certain yer elder sister has the right to that particular judgment, not with her piles of red hair and her fiery soul to match.”
Ian released a long breath, the last of his hot air. “That’s true,” he said before collapsing in one of the chairs by the hearth, his legs outstretched. Accepting a mug of ale from the abbot, he took a long swig. “All right,” he conceded. “I defer to yer wisdom. We won’t go after the bishop.”
The abbot took the seat beside him and gave Ian a fatherly pat on the hand. “Rest tonight, son of Scotland, for come the morrow, ye’ll be so busy, ye won’t have blinked and we’ll be welcoming the bishop home.”
Ian rested his head against the back of his chair, but then he jerked upright. There was one thing he needed to make clear. “I’m just telling ye now, Abbot. If ye’re ever arrested, there’s nothing anyone could do or say that would prevent me from saving ye.”
“Glad I am to hear it,” the abbot declared. “I’m no bishop. King Edward would string me up with little worry for his soul.”
“I’d never let that happen,” Ian vowed. Then he held his cup high. “Alba gu bràth.” Scotland Forever.
Abbot Matthew raised his cup. “Alba gu bràth,” he said, repeating the secret password of their cause.