Reid Kerr has always known his place. He’s the brother no one can depend on, the rogue who’s determined never to marry. But when he attends a council of border chiefs at Highgate End, he meets the one woman who might change his mind about love—and his own worth.
After narrowly escaping an arranged marriage, Englishwoman Allie Bowman is content to remain a permanent visitor at her sister’s new home, Highgate End. She is finally free to be herself. Or so she thinks. When she falls for the most notorious rogue in Scotland, she will discover her sister has very particular ideas of whom she should marry. With both loved ones and circumstances poised to keep them apart, will Reid and Allie fight to stay together?
The Rogue's Redemption is a historical romance set in 13th century Northumbria along the Anglo-Scottish border. If you like strong female heroines, alpha-male heroes, and sizzling romance, you’ll love this eighth installment of the Border Series.
Release date: October 16, 2018
Publisher: Altiora Press
Print pages: 264
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The Rogue's Redemption
Brockburg Castle, Scotland, 1273
Reid grew bold as the maid deepened their kiss. When his hand moved upward from her waist, her soft groan was all the encouragement he needed. Certain they could not be seen, hidden in a small alcove at the foot of a rarely used staircase, he explored the curves that had taunted him since she’d arrived the week before. A new lady’s maid at Brockburg, and just what he needed to forget about the selection.
“What is your name?” he thought to ask, breaking contact and watching as his hand reached its goal.
“Anne,” said the pretty blonde.
He could think of nothing else to say that mattered, so he resumed the kiss. Dipping his fingers below the neckline of her very inconvenient gown, Reid finally managed to—
The unwelcome voice sounded annoyed. The maid pulled away.
Rather than turn toward the sound, he murmured, “Not now,” and tried to resume what had been so rudely interrupted.
The maid, Anne, pushed his hand away and stood ramrod straight. Their interlude was apparently at an end now that the chief had arrived.
Reid turned and watched as Anne nodded a quick bow and ran. Though it was difficult to fully see her backside from this vantage point—
“Christ, Reid. She’s gone.”
He sighed, not caring if Toren noticed. “I’ll assume this is important?”
Toren didn’t answer. Instead, he narrowed his eyes at Reid, eyes the same brown-green as his own.
There was judgment there. As usual.
Though he and his brother disagreed at times, they rarely fought as they had this morning. Apparently his brother was still displeased with him. Maybe even more so.
“There’s been another raid.”
That got his attention.
“When?” he asked as Toren turned and made his way up the stone staircase that led to the great hall. “Where?”
The maid completely forgotten, he followed Toren through the hall’s entrance and then toward the front doors of the keep.
“No more than an hour past. On a farm near the southern border. English reivers. They took naught but cattle.”
Raids, though common in the borderlands, rarely occurred on Kerr land. The Kerrs’ reputation for being fierce warriors had spread widely enough to grant them a modicum of peace.
As they approached the stables, Reid caught the attention of a groom who had just exited the stone building to indicate they were ready.
“Where are the other men?” he asked.
When a Hot Trod commenced, it typically included at least five or six clansmen. To ride out with less was a risk not worth taking.
“Already waiting beyond the gates,” Toren said. “It took some time to find you.”
He would not apologize, and Toren wouldn’t expect him to. Instead, they stood in silence until the groom returned with their horses.
The brothers mounted and rode through the courtyard toward the gatehouse. Brockburg had just one defensive wall, but its compact design and high vantage which afforded views well beyond its gates, secured it well.
As they met up with the others, Toren looked straight at him. “We pursue but do not kill.”
He nodded his acceptance, and they began to ride out.
Though he hoped Toren would leave their argument be, it wasn’t long before his brother yelled out, “We still need to talk.”
Luckily, their hasty pursuit south toward the border prohibited any further discussion. For now.
Damn Alex. This whole mess with Toren was his middle brother’s fault for giving up his position. Reid liked Clara well enough, but if Alex had not married her and moved to Dunmure Tower, he and Toren would not have spent a good portion of the summer disagreeing about the future of their clan.
The elders would choose a second soon, and while Toren would have it be him, Reid was content as his brother’s chief guard.
“Tracks,” Toren yelled to the men, jarring him out of his thoughts. His brother was right. They were getting closer, and at this pace, the question was not whether they would catch up to the English bastards, but whether he could follow his brother’s decree.
The tracks led them directly to a camp of five men who were very much reivers by the look of them. Oddly enough, there were no cattle in sight and the men they’d come upon did not even attempt to fight or flee. Instead, they allowed themselves to be surrounded by Toren and his men.
Something wasn’t right.
The fools had not even bothered to cross the border into England before stopping. They were either the most inept reivers Reid had come across or too stupid to realize who they’d stolen from.
Reid had just ridden up beside his brother when one of the dismounted reivers rushed toward Toren, moving with astounding speed.
Reid barely realized he’d dismounted or drawn his dagger. He’d positioned himself between his brother and the reiver so quickly that none of the others had time to react. Toren’s would-be attacker lifted his lang spear and positioned it directly in line to hit his brother. Reid tossed his dirk through the air, its aim true. The man howled in pain as the spear dropped from his hand. He threw his other hand into the air, blood beginning to seep through and color his sleeve red.
Reid grabbed the man near the top of his quilted gambeson and yanked his dirk from the man’s arm.
“You threaten the life of the wrong man,” he growled, pressing the blood-stained dagger to the man’s throat. The reiver’s life was in his hands now. If he said the wrong thing, Reid could not be responsible for his actions.
“’Twas foolish,” he cried. “We were caught unaware.”
Reid did not look to his brother for permission. He didn’t glance at any of the other men, knowing he was protected. If the reivers moved, his clansmen would cut them down where they cowered.
“You stole from Clan Kerr,” he said. “You threaten its chief.”
The look in the man’s eyes surprised him. He was entirely unafraid.
“You and your men will come with us to the warden.”
The man offered neither a response nor an argument. The English bastard simply stared straight back at him as if daring him to do his worst.
Reid itched to do so.
“Enough,” Toren called, deciding for him. His brother dismounted and plunged his hands into the saddlebag at his side. He knew precisely what Toren intended. The reivers would be bound and taken to James Douglas, Lord Warden of the Eastern Marches. They would be held until the next Day of Truce, whereupon judgment would be meted out for their crimes.
Reid turned the man around and allowed Toren and the others to begin the task of securing the prisoners.
“Where are the cattle?” he asked, and received glares rather than a response. He caught Toren’s eye, his silent question answered by a shake of the head.
They would let Douglas question them.
One of Reid’s men clapped him on the back, presumably for protecting his brother, but he could not join in his clansman’s relief.
Something was amiss with these men, this raid, and he intended to find out what it was.
“Will you meet me later?” Allie Bowman asked her brother-in-law.
Aidan crossed his arms. He disliked keeping their training sessions private, but Allie had just escaped an unwanted betrothal, preceded by a lifetime of others making her decisions for her. She was owed this one secret.
“You are relentless,” he said with a smile, a sure sign he was about to say yes. “It will be dark soon—”
“But not yet.”
Allie looked up as if the sky would reveal how much time they had remaining. For the past three days the sun had refused to show itself, an indication, had they needed one, that a change of season was upon them. Soon warm days would be replaced with cool, autumn evenings.
“Your friend has returned.”
She’d already felt the soft brush of fur through the fabric of her dress. The kitten seemed to have come from nowhere a few days earlier. No one was able to locate her parents. Allie wished to help her, but each time she reached down to scoop up her furry friend, the kitten ran away.
This time, Aidan stopped her as soon as she moved her hand.
“Let her get accustomed to you,” he said. “She may not be ready just yet.”
It was not Allie’s nature to be patient, but she took his advice and simply watched the brown and gray kitten with her white paws and the adorable white patch on her face. When her restraint cracked and she reached down to pet the kitten, the little one ran away.
“I will meet you there as soon as I speak to Graeme.” With that, Aidan winked and turned toward the keep.
Allie smiled to herself. She’d known he would come.
Rather than follow him into the keep, she leaned against the cold stone wall of Highgate Castle. Perhaps she should reconsider and tell her sister about the lessons. After all, Gillian was nothing like their parents, though she’d become a mite more protective now that Allie was living in Scotland.
As far as Allie was concerned, she was never, ever going back. After one near brush with marriage to a completely inappropriate and undesirable man, the Earl of Covington, she did not plan on allowing her father to arrange a match with another wealthy old bore. He was the last person in the borderlands she’d trust with her future. Still, he kept trying. Indeed, his latest attempt to lure her back to England had arrived the day before.
After changing into an outfit appropriate for training—tights and a loose linen shirt she’d borrowed from her brother-in-law—Allie spent the next hour visiting the armorer. When she finally spotted Aidan leaving the keep, Allie slowly followed. She took a different route than her brother-in-law, heading beyond the gatehouse and down the hill. He thought it unnecessary, all the secrecy and hiding, and though Allie had tried to explain her reasoning for insisting on it, she knew he didn’t understand.
Allie wanted this. Needed this. It was the only thing she’d ever had that was hers and hers alone. No one had told her to train with Aidan. No one had even recommended it. She had come up with the idea on her own and persuaded him—with difficulty.
Indeed, when she’d first proposed the idea, Aidan had thought it a jest. She’d insisted it wasn’t and asked him to choose a weapon for her to use.
His choice of the longsword had surprised her, but the need to use both hands actually made it a lighter choice than any other weapon, with the exception of a dagger. And she was even more surprised to discover she was good at it. Indeed, in the few weeks since they’d begun to train, she had improved enough to become an actual sparring partner.
She followed Aidan into the dense thicket. What little light remained was blocked by the trees’ canopy.
They would have an hour, no more, before the evening meal was served. The meal promised to be a lively affair since Gillian and her new husband were preparing to host a council meeting, the first such affair they’d oversee as husband and wife. Clan chiefs, chieftains, and even the Lord Warden himself would soon descend on Highgate End.
“Something’s wrong,” Aidan correctly surmised when he saw her.
“I was thinking of the council.”
Aidan cocked his head to the side. “What of it?”
She looked up into the warm, honest eyes of the man who’d quickly become her friend and confidante these past months. “We’ll not be able to meet with so many people about.”
Aidan rolled his eyes, something he often did with her, although Allie didn’t take offense. He was playful by nature, one of his many endearing qualities.
“We shall see about that,” he said. “Now come, lass, we’ve not much time.”
Allie beamed, eagerly anticipating her favorite part of the day.
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