First in a brand-new series from New York Times bestselling author Sabrina York about the bold, brawny men of the Highlands-and the lovely lasses who bring them to their knees…
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
Highlanders are her weakness.
Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent–and spectacularly handsome–Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?
Love is the most powerful weapon of all.
Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land–without mercy–and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her–body and soul…
Please share the opening lines of this book:
She should look away. Really, she should. But Hannah Dounreay could not tear her gaze from the sight of the enormous man striding onto the field of combat like a warrior of old.
Please share a few Random facts about this book…
- One of the things I love about writing historicals is that I get to research certain periods of history. (I am a history junkie!) When choosing a time period for this series, I did a lot of reading, trying to decide what eras of Scottish history would provide a powerful backdrop. I chose the era of the Clearances (which went on for decades!). Random Fact: There is a scene in the book where an evil man tossed a burning cudgel onto the thatch roof of a cottage with a bed-bound woman inside, snapping, “She’s lived long enough. Let her burn.” In my story, my heroine rushes through the flames to save her. History was not so kind. (Is it wrong that I get supreme satisfaction from re-writing history?)
- Random Fact #2: Hannah’s sister, Lana, factors strongly in this story, helping Alexander come to terms with his past and overcome his hatred of his dead uncle. Why did I include spirits in the story? And why did I include a woman who has the power to speak to the dead (or shun them?) Because in my research, one of the most fascinating books I read was titled Ghosts of Scotland. They are such an integral part of Scottish history and lore you know I could not resist!
- Finally (Random Fact #3), when I finished this book and sent it off to my wonderful editor, Monique Patterson—who so graciously contacted me to ask if I wanted to take on this series—I needed to shift gears and take a break from writing before I started Susana and the Scot, so I decided to organize my writing space (which is, in and of itself, a horrifying proposition). I tend to be a piler rather than a filer because I like to SEE everything.
So I’m going through my stuff and I come across a 3×5 card from 5 years ago that says: A Three Book Deal with a New York Publisher. I stared at it for a minute, and I remembered when I’d written those words. I was unpublished, frustrated and ready to quit writing. I went to an RWA chapter meeting for inspiration (or at least the opportunity to howl to my friends about how unfair life was!) Susan Mallery was our speaker. Her topic was Making your Dreams Come True, or something like that. As part of her presentation, she handed us all these 3×5 cards and said, “Write down your Ultimate Career Goal.” I thought and thought, and then I wrote those words. I knew it was crazy dream and impossible and maybe even a waste of time, but I did what she asked and put that card on my wall where I could see it every day. It remained there for long time, but at some point (obviously) it came down and I piled it somewhere. I tabled that goal as I went on to publish with digital publishers and eventually self-publish. But that dream was still there, somewhere in my pile of dreams.
That I found that card, just then, when I HAD achieved that goal—not obsessing on it, but quietly working toward it—is, in my opinion, a message from the universe.
I encourage you all to write down your goals, visualize them as real, and get to work on them! Life happens in funny ways. Our destiny can turn on a dime, but it helps if we open ourselves to the opportunity and do the work. Do the hard work. And perservere.
Please tell us a little about the characters in your book. As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?
As you may know, characters DO talk to authors. Sometimes (and often) at 2am. When I was sketching out this series, I knew Alexander needed to be a strong, powerful Laird with a secret…something that would keep him and Hannah at odds. But I wasn’t sure what that was. And the first draft just wasn’t working. I languished in hell for a long while, until I opened my heart and listened to what Alexander was telling me. It was a whisper in the dark, but changed everything and set the tone for the book.
A big strong powerful Laird should not have a secret weakness…but the irony is, the weakness—and how he deals with it—makes him more powerful altogether.
Alexander told me what his secret weakness was, and it changed the trajectory of the entire book.
What, in your mind, distinguishes this book from other books out there in the same genre?
We’re living in an amazing time. So many wonderful books and awesome authors! It’s hard to pick one element that makes my books stand out from such great work. If I had to choose one thing, it would be my voice. I am a little snarky, I like to flip tropes on their ear and surprise and entertain. My heroes are hot, my heroines are smart and I love folding in comic relief when I can. All I want is for you to devour every word and then beg for more. Is that so wrong?
The First kiss…
Oh dear. The first kiss did not go well…
In this scene, Alexander has just saved Hannah from an overzealous suitor. What she doesn’t know is that he is so utterly besotted by her…he cannot even speak.
She could well have leaped from the pan into the fire.
But before she had time to consider this, before a new fear had the opportunity to sprout, he sheathed his sword and knelt at her side.
His heat surrounded her. His presence enfolded her. The lines of his face dazzled her. His gaze . . . paralyzed her. There were flecks of gold in his creamy brown orbs, she noticed of a sudden, and his lashes were unnaturally long. And his lips . . . my, they were fine-looking, lush lips. . . .
When he lifted a finger, she didn’t flinch away. He touched her chin, right where it still throbbed, but with a heartrending gentleness. He quirked a brow; his question was clear.
“I-I’m f-fine,” she said, though her tongue barely worked. Or perhaps it was her brain that had seized. All she could think about was . . . those lips. Those exquisite lips.
His expression warmed and he nodded, and then he stood and reached out a hand.
She took it.
Purely on instinct.
She took it, and he raised her up onto her feet, holding her steady when she wobbled. Though her knees were weak, it wasn’t due to the reaction of Niall’s attack. It was because the sensation of this man’s palm scraping over hers was dizzying.
She should have been mortified to collapse against his rock-hard chest—she was hardly a collapsing kind of girl—but she wasn’t mortified. Indeed, it was quite pleasant. His heat, his scent, surrounded her.
He gazed down at her in silence—as she gazed at him, thinking about those lips. When his head lowered, an unholy thrill shot through her.
He was going to kiss her.
Oh, yes, please.
Where the prospect of Niall’s kisses disgusted her, there was an entirely different kind of emotion raging through her now.
Want. Need. Probably a result of reaction, of the blood pumping in her veins, but she could not deny it.
Ah, but he didn’t kiss her. Not really. With a murmur, he touched his lips to her chin, so softly, barely a whisper, brushing against the growing bruise.
It was a sweet gesture. A tender buss.
And absolutely not what she had in mind.
So she tipped her head, just slightly . . . and captured his lips.
The feel of him, the taste of him, shocked her. Earthy. Warm. A hint of velvet and mint. There was another flavor too, one she couldn’t identify. It was distinctly him, and it was irresistible. She pressed closer.
To her surprise, he lurched back, eyes wide, nostrils flared. Her gut tightened at his retreat; she hadn’t been finished exploring. Indeed, she could explore this man all day.
He stared down at her, his attention fixated on her mouth. His fingers on her hips flexed. The moment hummed between them. She knew—she just knew—he was going to kiss her again. Her breath hitched as exhilaration flared. Knowledge. Recognition.
This was a man who incited that illusive passion she’d always craved but thought beyond her reach.
This was a man to whom she might be tempted to surrender all.
The thought should have concerned her, frightened her, stopped her wayward thoughts. It did not. He was—
Her elation deflated in an instant, replaced by a howling wash of chagrin, when he released her and stepped away. In his absence, a cold wind rushed in. His features went taut, a muscle bunched in his cheek, and he gave a tiny shake of his head.
Hannah was no fool. She recognized rejection when she saw it. Something bitter tickled the back of her throat. Heat raked her. Mortification raged.
Damn and blast.
He had saved her from an overzealous suitor, as any chivalrous man would. He had touched her cheek in sympathy for her injury. He had done or said nothing to encourage her to crawl up his body as she had.
She should have known. A man like this would never be interested in a mousy, bookish woman with too-large eyes and a crooked mouth. A man like this would want a bold, beautiful warrior princess like Susana. They all did.
No doubt women clamored for his kisses. No doubt he had to fight them off with a stick. No doubt her kiss had been naught but an annoyance from yet another dewy-eyed lass.
She shouldn’t have kissed him—though she couldn’t regret that she had.
“I’m—” No. She would not apologize. She cleared her throat and waved back at the spot where Niall had so nearly ravaged her. “Um. Thank you. I dinna realize he had followed me until it was too late.”
Silence sizzled between them. “I’m Hannah Dounreay.” She thrust out a hand.
He stared at it.
“And you are . . . ?”
She waited for his response on bated breath, aching to know his name. Raw embarrassment still scorched her and discontent raged within her breast at the reminder that she could never attract a man like this. It would help, a little, knowing his name. At least she would know what to call him when she thought of him in the years to come. And she would.
His Adam’s apple made the long slide up and down his throat. His lips parted. Hannah stared at them, trying very hard not to think about leaping on him and kissing him again. It was difficult. Something about his scent, his aura, his presence, tugged at her soul. Filled her with an unfamiliar hunger.
But he didn’t give her his name; he wouldn’t even grant her that tiny sliver. Without a word he bowed to her, spun on his heel, and strode away.
Hannah gaped at his receding form, raging emotions tumbling through her in a maelstrom. Few were pleasant. Had that been what it had seemed? A complete and utter cut direct?
As embarrassing and dreadful and delightful as this entire debacle had been, for some reason outrage trumped all other feelings. Fury railed her. Though he was physically perfect, tempting, and . . . tasty, she never wanted to set eyes on him ever again.
Whoever he was.
Did any scene have you crying or laughing (or blushing) while writing it?
This scene always makes me laugh!!!!
He hadn’t slept well and now, when he awoke, he was groggy. So it took him a while to realize what had roused him from a dead sleep. Someone had entered his chambers. Brùid was poised by the door to the parlor, his hackles up, growling low in his throat.
Alexander frowned. Brùid rarely growled, unless he wanted food . . . or there was some threat. He levered off the bed and padded to the door, pulling the dog back so he could open it and see what was on the other side.
He didn’t expect the hound to rip free and tear into the parlor. He certainly didn’t expect to see Hannah standing there in the middle of the room. His pulse lurched at the sight of her. A wash of excitement spiraled through him. She was here? Already? How long had he slept?
But there she stood, her hair like an ebony curtain curling around her delicate face, her hands clasped before her, her eyes wide . . . with fear. Her lips parted and another squeal wrenched forth as Brùid bounded across the room toward her, his teeth bared.
“Brùid, heel!” Alexander bellowed, but his usually obedient dog ignored him. His heart lodged in his throat as the hound charged the woman who would be Alexander’s wife. Time slowed down. Panic traced a cold finger along his spine. His gut tightened into a hard knot.
Would he lose her before he’d had her?
And to the jaws of his beloved Brùid?
But Brùid did not attack her.
He knocked her down, though, and then barreled past her and through the door into her bedchamber.
Alexander’s relief was brief. Because then rose the symphony from hell. Thuds and crashes. A hideous screeching yowl. Wolfish snarls and a low, rumbling growl that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
Hannah glared at him and bounded to her feet, running into the bedchamber. Alexander, perforce, followed.
He stopped stock-still at the sight of his dog—his painstakingly trained and disciplined wolfhound—dancing like a pup before the hearth, tail whirling like a windmill, as he barked and bayed at the ball of hissing fur perched on the mantel.
The urge to laugh bubbled up within Alexander. He wasn’t a man who laughed with much regularity, but this . . . this was funny.
Then he caught Hannah’s eye and flinched.
All right. Not so very funny.
“Call him off,” she howled over the ruckus. “He’s scaring Nerid.”
“Brùid. Heel.” Alexander’s dog had been trained almost from birth. He had always responded to commands with a satisfying immediacy. However, in this instance he ignored his master utterly, in favor of the delights of treeing a cat. Or manteling a cat. Whatever one called it.
Alexander stormed across the room and grabbed Brùid by the scruff of his neck, and though he whined and bayed a few more times, he allowed Alexander to tug him back toward the door. It was a struggle. Alexander could only hope she appreciated his efforts.
When he lifted his gaze to her face, to check, to see if she indeed appreciated his efforts . . . he froze. Because she was gaping at him with an expression of combined horror and fascination.
It didn’t take long to realize why.
He was used to sleeping in the buff. It hadn’t even occurred to him that he was completely naked when he’d leaped from his bed. His man parts were certainly not new to him.
They were, apparently, new to her.
Which, on the face of things, was good news—given her habit of kissing strange men.
But lord, he really had not intended to frighten her.
Certainly not on their wedding day.
He hunched down, so his dangly bits were somewhat obscured by the wolfhound, and her attention flickered to Alexander’s face. Her jaw hung slack. She swallowed. With great effort.
He should say something. I’m sorry. Or Forgive the intrusion. Or No, it’s not usually quite so dangly. But he found he couldn’t find the words. Even if he could have found them, he couldn’t have formed them.
So he settled for a quick bow and, holding Brùid at a fortuitous angle, backed from the room.
Not a promising start to their union.
Not promising at all.
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters?
If not the scene above (and let’s be honest, I’d love to see Sam Heughan acting that one out in the buff…) I would use this scene. The first time Alexander and Hannah see each other, really see each other. There is no dialog, but that would help to see how well the actor could convey meaning without words, which is, of course, the core of all that is Alexander Lochlannach!
He leaned down to open the door to his bedchamber and then carried her over the threshold. Gently, he set her to her feet, kicking the door closed with his heel. She could feel his gaze on her face, but she couldn’t meet his eyes. Heat walked up her cheeks.
They were alone. Absolutely alone.
In his bedchamber.
She glanced at the bed.
It was enormous. Four thick posters flanked the corners. It was rafted with fat pillows. The sheets were turned back.
She opened her mouth to speak—to state her unwavering assertion that this would be an excellent opportunity to continue their chat—when he lifted her hand. His lips were warm, his breath damp, as he tenderly kissed the ring he had placed on her finger.
And then he knelt before her.
She had to look at him then. Had to stare at him, and once she did her consciousness was ensnared by the vision. In the traditional Highland dress, he was heartbreakingly handsome and there, on his knees before her, irresistible.
Holding her gaze, he lifted her hem. And kissed it.
No words could express what that simple gesture conveyed. It shafted through her soul, truer than any arrow.
My wife, he’d said. I am your servant.
In a flash her aggravation with him crumbled, like a sand castle consumed by a rushing tide. In a flash her hunger for him rose again. It filled her veins with a scorching heat. Uncomfortable prickles throbbed throughout her body.
Maybe it was the wine she’d had or the fact that she hadn’t been able to eat much, but her head spun. Her heart raced. A mad, dizzying rush engulfed her.
To hell with conversation.
She wanted him and she wanted him now.
If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?
I would have told them not to fret. That everything would work out…because I am all about the happy ending!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2015?
I always have a lot going on! Right now I am working on sequels to a couple of books including my Hot SEAL/Stone Hard SEAL crossover, Guard Dog; my Cowboy Stud Ranch Series; the next installment of Elite Metal: Elite Ghosts; and the second book in my Highland Time Travel Series.
But if you love highlanders, there are two more books in this series we are working on as well! Susana and the Scot comes out in December (you can preorder now! http://www.amazon.com/Susana-Scot-Untamed-Highlanders-Sabrina-ebook/dp/B00Z65S84O/) and Lana and the Laird releases in 2016!
If you don’t want to miss any of my releases or contests or events, please sign up for my newsletter for members-only exclusive content and giveaways! Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bj8tKb
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: 2 Print copies of Hannah and the Highlander (Untamed Highlanders) by Sabrina York
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Excerpt from Hannah and the Highlander:
Egads. She wants to speak with him before the wedding…
The door opened immediately, as though she’d been standing there waiting. At the sight of her, his heart stalled and his throat tightened. She had this effect on him each and every time he saw her. God, she was so beautiful.
Her eyes widened, as though she was surprised to see him, which befuddled him, because she’d asked him to come. Then her gaze raked him. He liked to think that look in her eye was a glimmer of appreciation. “Dunnet,” she said. “You’re . . . dressed.”
Aye. Dressed for a wedding. He couldn’t help but notice she was not.
“Lady . . . Hannah.” He bowed. “You wanted to . . . talk?”
She nodded briskly and opened the door wider, stepping back to allow him to enter. He did so and closed the door behind him. The click was deafening. It was not lost on him that he was in her bedchambers. His gaze flicked to the bed. It was slightly rumpled. That made him feel slightly rumpled as well.
This was not the time for his passion to rise.
“Thank you for coming,” she said, turning away to pace. “I know you are prepared to marry . . . forthwith.” He had no idea why she emphasized the word as she did. “But before we exchange our vows, I have some things that I need to say.”
He nodded, even as relief gushed through him.
She hadn’t changed her mind.
And if she had things to say, he should probably stay silent. And listen.
“You and I need to have an understanding.”
“An . . . understanding?”
“Aye.” His hope was supplanted by a hint of disappointment when she said in a very businesslike tone, “We both know this is a marriage of convenience.”
His gaze snapped to her face. Ernest though her expression was, it lacked the dreamy, romantic tinge a groom might hope for. In fact, she set her chin and shot him a very unromantic glance.
A marriage of convenience? A cold, heartless, distant union? Denial howled. Suddenly, to his surprise, he found he wanted something very different. He longed to respond, to cry out his dissent, but his throat locked.
“There is no reason to pretend this is something other than it is. I agreed to marry you because Dounreay needs your protection and you agreed to marry me for my lands. We are marrying for no other reason. Aye. I understand that. We understand that.”
Nae. We understood nothing of the sort. There was another reason he was determined to marry her, did she but realize.
He wanted her.
“Regardless, Dunnet, my wish is for a peaceful union.”
Peaceful. Aye. Peaceful was good.
“I should like for us to work together as a team. In partnership.”
Aye. He had a partnership in mind. . . .
“If I’m going to pledge myself to a man forever, I need to know that he will respect me. That he will honor my wishes. I need to know he will take my counsel into account.” She fixed Alexander with a steady gaze, as though she expected a response. So he nodded.
She was so beautiful, so earnest. So tantalizing.
He stepped closer, intent on his target.
Her eyes widened as he neared. Her hand on his chest stalled his approach and her brow wrinkled. Her gaze flicked to his mouth and her tongue peeped out, wetting her lips, igniting a flame in his belly. With great effort, she ripped her gaze away and frowned. “Do you agree to my terms?” she asked.
He cupped her cheek and angled her head up. Her breath caught. Her features froze as she realized his intent. “Aye,” he said. “Aye.” And then he did what he’d been thinking about for weeks. What he’d been obsessing over all day. He kissed her.
And it was glorious.
A shiver rippled over Hannah’s skin as Dunnet took her mouth. His taste, his scent, infused her. It was a light kiss, a testing foray, but it sent an unholy thrill through her and left her wanting one thing. More.
She had wanted this chance to speak with him privately, to receive his assurances that their marriage would be a partnership, to set her mind at rest, and he’d done that. But if she was being truthful . . . something like this had been on her mind as well, skulking there behind her noble intentions, a roiling hunger. A curiosity. A need.
She’d kissed him before and he had turned away. She desperately needed to know if, in his heart, he had any passion for her whatsoever.
He lifted his head—way too soon—and stared down at her. “Hannah . . . ” he murmured.
Even as she attempted to rein in her disappointment at his withdrawal, his hold on her cheek tightened, his eyes narrowed, and he issued a noise, something gruff and deep, something that sent a lick of exhilaration through her.
He yanked her closer. The feel of his body against hers, rigid and unyielding, made her head spin. His fingers threaded through her hair and he held her steady as his head descended again. She sucked in a breath, quivering with anticipation.
And ah. Ah.
This kiss was different.
This wasn’t tentative in the slightest. It was a taking. A mad, starved consummation of her mouth with his, a melding of lips and tongue and need.
This was as wild as the windy squalls off the coast. As tantalizing as the fairy wisps at dusk. As scorching as the forge where razor-sharp steel was tempered and formed.
And it cut through her like a screaming wind, an enticing magic, a warm blade.
Scuttles of heat rose in her womb. Rivulets of excitement danced in her veins. His taste filled her senses, her mouth, her soul.
When he lifted his head, a glimmer danced in his eye. It was the look of a conquering hero, a savage Scotsman, a man whose hunger had been sated but ignited at the same time.
Exultation whipped through her. Her knees were weak and her body melted.
Damn her reservations.
Damn her fears.
Damn her doubts about whether or not he really wanted her.
She wanted him. And she would have him.
It was gratifying to see that he was not unaffected. His breath came heavy and hard and there was a slight tremble in his voice when he spoke. It was one word and one word only, forced out and wreathed in a growl, but it was enough.
Excerpts. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Highlanders are her weakness.
Hannah Dounreay has no time for suitors who only seem interested in her family’s land, which she manages as well as any man. If she marries, she wants to be loved for the educated, independent woman she is. But when a strong, silent-and spectacularly handsome-Highlander saves her from a violent attack, her heart is stirred. Who is this man? And if he asks for Hannah’s hand, will she be able to resist him?
Love is the most powerful weapon of all.
Alexander Lochlannach, Laird of Dunnet, has no time to lose. The Highlands are in an uproar as clans battle for land-without mercy-and Alexander can’t afford to fall for the wildly attractive, strong-willed Hannah. What’s more, he has a desperate secret, one that could destroy them both. But as their attraction turns into an all-consuming passion, Alexander has no choice but to prove to Hannah that he’s the only man for her-body and soul…in Hannah and the Highlander.
Meet the Author:
Her Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. With over 25 titles her books range from sweet & snarky to scorching romance. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Represented by Lane Heymont with the Seymour Agency.
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