From New York Times bestselling author Julia London, comes DEVIL IN TARTAN—the fourth novel in her Highland Grooms Series!
DEVIL IN TARTAN is now available. Order your copy today!
Lottie Livingstone bears the weight of an island on her shoulders. Under threat of losing their home, she and her clan take to the seas to sell a shipload of illegal whiskey. When an attack leaves them vulnerable, she transforms from a maiden daughter to a clever warrior. For survival, she orchestrates the siege of a rival’s ship and now holds the devilish Scottish captain Aulay Mackenzie under her command.
Tied, captive and forced to watch a stunning siren commandeer the Mackenzie ship, Aulay burns with the desire to seize control—of the ship and Lottie. He has resigned himself to a life of solitude on the open seas, but her beauty tantalizes him like nothing has before. As authorities and enemies close in, he is torn between surrendering her to justice and defending her from assailants. He’ll lose her forever, unless he’s willing to sacrifice the unimaginable…
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The Reulag Balhaire was not in the business of saving other ships. It was generally considered unwise to approach another ship unless one was prepared to have a hull shattered by cannon fire. But their curiosity was aroused. The burning ship was just a spot in the distance now, so they’d set course for the starboard side of the smaller ship, a gun pointed at the forecastle in the event there was trouble.
Aulay watched the smaller ship slowly come into view, its outline muted against the darkening sky, the clouds weighing down on the masts. It wasn’t until they were almost on the ship that they could see it was listing.
Iain the Red was studying it as they approached. “No’ a fly boat, no,” he said. “A bilander.”
“A bilander!” Beaty blustered. “What nonsense!”
Whether a fly boat or bilander, neither were particularly well suited for the open seas. “Is there a flag?” he asked.
“No.” Iain the Red paused, then laughed. “Look at them now, trying to lower the sail.” He laughed again with great amusement. “They look like children romping around a bloody maypole! Look at them trying to untangle those shroud lines, aye? They’re twisted up every which way—oof, there went one, down on his arse!”
The men gathered at the railing to watch, and laughed at the blundering of the crew on the other ship as they tried to free a sail from a broken mast with what looked like a lot of pushing and shoving. “Aye, give it over, Iain, let’s have a look,” one said, and they began to pass the spyglass around, all of them doubling over with mirth.
The spyglass came back around to Iain, but when he held it up, he stopped laughing. “Diah, de an diabhal?” he exclaimed and lowered the instrument, turning a wide-eyed look to Aulay.
“What, then?” Aulay asked, feeling a mild tick of alarm, imagining a gun pointed at them, or a pirate’s flag being raised.
“A lady,” Iain said, as if he’d never seen one.
A lady? It was not unheard of for one to be on the high seas; wives of captains sometimes sailed with them. If it were anyone else, a lady of importance, she’d not be sailing on a rickety boat like that.
“In a proper gown and everything,” Iain said, his voice full of awe.
Aulay didn’t know what a proper gown meant to Iain, so he motioned for the spyglass to have a look. He could scarcely make her out, but it was definitely a woman standing at the railing, holding a white flag that almost matched the color of the hair that whipped long and unbound about her face. There were a few men beside her, all of them clinging to the railing, all of them looking rather desperately in the direction of his ship.
Aulay instructed Beaty to maneuver closer, and when there was nothing but a small bit of sea between the two ships, the men’s frantic attention to the sail on the other ship was forgotten in favor of lowering a jolly boat down the hull. There was more chaotic shoving among them until four men scrambled down a rope ladder into the boat and began to row with abandon toward the ReulagBalhaire. The woman remained behind on the ship’s deck with a few men, including one that was the size of a small mountain, towering a head above all the others.
When the smaller boat reached them, one of the men grabbed on to the rope ladder to steady them, and one rose to standing, bracing his legs apart to keep his balance. “Madainnmhath,” he called up, and with an affected swirl of his hand, he bowed low. And very nearly tipped over the side when a swell caught him unawares.
“Scots, then,” Beaty said. “That’s something, at least.”
“We are in need of your help, kind sirs!” the man called up, having managed to right himself. “We’ve been set upon by pirates, aye?” He spoke with a strange cadence, as if he were a town crier delivering this news to a crowded venue.
The men did not carry swords or guns that Aulay could see. It seemed all they could do to keep the jolly from tipping too far to one side. “That ship flew the colors of the king,” he called down.
The spokesman looked startled. He squatted down to consult the other men in his small boat. A flurry of shaking heads and talking over one another ensued, until the man stood up again and said, “She flew no such flag when she fired, on me word, sir! She fired with no provocation from us!” He pressed his hand to his chest quite earnestly.
About Julia London:
Julia London is the New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular Cabot Sisters historical romance series, including The Trouble with Honor, The Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch and The Perfect Homecoming. She has over 100,000+ Facebook followers, is the recipient of the RT Book Reviews for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction. You can visit her website JuliaLondon.com. She lives in Austin, Texas.