I am happy to introduce the third book in my Highland Groom series, set against the backdrop of the 18th century unification of England and Scotland. Hard-Hearted Highlander follows Wild Wicked Scot and Sinful Scottish Laird, and is set shortly after the failed Jacobite rebellion of 1745 in the Battle of Culloden. Jacobite forces were demolished or sent fleeing into the Highlands, and the English army began to move through the Highlands and sweep out anyone who was thought to be a Jacobite or sympathetic to them.
Rabbie Mackenzie, the son of a wealthy Highland laird, was a sympathizer, and his family sent him away for a couple of years until tensions eased. Rabbie left behind his fiancée, Seona, but when he returned two years later, Seona and her entire family were gone, their home ransacked. He can only assume the worst.
Now, a few years later, the Mackenzie empire has crumbled. The clan huddles and decide their best option is to get in bed with the enemy—literally. If Rabbie marries a prosperous Englishman’s young daughter, it will help their get their feet back on the ground. Rabbie will do what he must, but his heart is not in it. His guilt about Seona has raged into full-blown depression with suicidal thoughts.
When Rabbie’s intended arrives, he is not soothed. She is meek and young and he has no interest in her. The one thing his intended does have is an irreverent maid who rolls her eyes at him and mutters under her breath. Rabbie believes he has very good reasons for being so unhappy, and is livid that this servant thinks she may judge him.
Bernadette Holly has suffered her own tragedies which has ruined her life, and now, she’s been sent to the remote Highlands to mind a teen bride. But she believes that one pulls oneself up by the bootstraps and does not wallow in it. She has nothing left to lose, and she does not feel like putting up with a brooding, self-centered Highlander. If he doesn’t like her irreverence, he can’t do much worse to her than already has been done. But that’s where she’s wrong.
He jerked his head up at that bit of insolence. “You dare to instruct me, lass?” he asked incredulously.
“Someone ought to,” she said pertly.
In that moment, Rabbie felt something other than anger or despair—he felt mildly stunned. He’d never in his life been addressed in such a manner by a servant. Rabbie studied her. He smirked. He didn’t know what game she was playing with him, but it was an unwinnable one. “A wee bit of advice, lass,” he said low as he took in the slight upturn of her nose, the strand of hair that had come undone and now draped across her smooth, creamy décolletage. “Donna think to shame me. It willna work. I donna care what that wee mouse thinks of me, aye? And there is little anyone can do to me that’s no’ already been done, and been done worse.”
One her dark brows lifted in a manner that reminded him of a woman hearing a tale she did not believe.
“You donna care for me, then,” he allowed. “I donna care for you, either. But I will marry that lass, and if you continue on as you have in my presence, I will put you out on your lovely arse and pack you back to bloody old England. Do you understand me?”
The maid seemed almost amused by his threat. “Neither should you think to threaten me, sir. For there is little you can do to me that has not already been done, and been done worse.” She gave him a bit of a triumphant smirk and stepped around him, walking out of the room and leaving the faint scent of her perfume in her wake.
Praise for London’s Hard-Hearted Highlander…
Heroes and Heartbreakers: “Emotional and beautifully written, Julia London’s Hard Hearted Highlander will definitely warm your heart!”
Booklist: “The third in London’s masterfully written Highland Grooms series, following Sinful Scottish Laird (2017) is another captivating combination of richly layered characters, a vividly etched Scottish setting, and plenty of red-hot passion.”
Publishers Weekly: “The fascinating love triangle, set amid the wilds of Scotland, creates a page-turning read that will resonate with fans of Highland romance.”
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