Our Best Historical for 2011 is Lord Keeper by Tarah Scott!
Award winning author Tarah Scott cut her teeth on books such as The Bobbsey Twins (yes, she is dating herself!) Nancy Drew, and Aesop's Fables. Authors such as Georgette Heyer, Zane Grey, and Mark Twain filled her teenage years. Her favorite book is a Tale of Two Cities, with Gone With the Wind as a close second. Favorite modern authors are Stephen King, Ann Rice, Amanda Quick, and Johanna Lindsey.
Born in New Mexico, Tarah grew up in the Southwest. Fifteen years ago, she relocated to Westchester County, New York, where she and her daughter reside in a lakeside community. When not working, writing, or reading--who are we kidding? She's always working, writing, or reading. Oh! There is her daughter. They do manage to spend a lot of time together.
No man bargains for war when he chooses a bride, but when he steals her from holy ground, he can expect nothing less.
Iain MacPherson swore he was nothing like his father, but his kidnapping of Victoria Hockley, the Countess of Lansbury is the first step toward the same obsessive jealousy that fueled his father’s life-long feud against the chief Iain’s mother loved.
A kiss, a midnight race for freedom, and a royal missive force Victoria into her captor’s arms. Hallowed ground can’t save her from the devil that followed her from England. Yet the Scottish lord who swears to protect her is far more dangerous.
“My lord, did you know a ghost walks the grounds of Fauldun Castle?”
Iain halted and turned.
Victoria spared a smug glance for Maude, who stood near the sink, then said to him, “Were you aware of this?”
Victoria sauntered over to Maude. “Maude saw him the day you left.”
Iain’s eyes shifted to the housekeeper, who stared at Victoria as if she’d lost her mind.
“The ghost looks very much like you,” Victoria said.
“A ghost is it, now?” Maude said in a soft voice.
Victoria looked down at where the smaller woman now leaned against the kitchen counter, arms crossed over her stomach as if she hadn’t a care in the world. An unsettling sense that Maude was the cat and she was now the mouse gave her pause, but she looked at Iain and added, “What else could it have been? Unless that was you leaving my cottage the morning you left?”
Iain’s expression darkened and Victoria startled when Iain took three steps and stopped in front of her. “What mischief are you up to?”
She stared, confused.
“Come now, lass,” Maude put in. “Why go on with this ruse?”
“Ruse?” Victoria split a glance between her two adversaries. “He is standing before us and yet you continue with your tale?”
Maude gave her an odd look, then turned to Iain. “Laird, what happened the morning you visited V—er, the lass?”
“Nothing happened,” he boomed, “but if someone does not explain what is going on, something is likely to happen.” He looked at Victoria. “Is there something I should know? Who else were you expecting?”
Victoria stilled. “Are you saying you did come that morning?”
He bent down, nose to nose with her. “Who were you expecting?”
“Not you!” She shoved his chest. Iain fell back a step and Victoria advanced on him. “How dare you?” Clenching her hand into a fist, she hit his stomach. Pain radiated up her arm. She recoiled with a howl. “Now look what you have done.” She rubbed the injured hand.
“Never do that again,” she growled.
Iain’s forehead creased. “Tis not my fault you were foolish enough to hit me.”
“Oh, no.” Victoria shook her head. “This is your fault and more—and you know I am not speaking of that.” She jabbed at his stomach.
Iain’s glance flicked from his abdomen to Maude. “What in the name of the devil happened while I was away?”
“Who gave you leave to come uninvited into my bedchamber?” Victoria demanded.
His head snapped in her direction, lips thinned.
“Do not think to intimidate me with that look. You had no right.” She threw her hands up and strode to the counter. Palms down, she leaned against the counter, closed her eyes and took a calming breath.
“Is this shrewish tirade because I visited you the day I left?” he demanded.
Victoria opened her eyes and caught sight of the bowl containing the beginnings of shortbread batter sitting on the counter. She gripped the bowl edges and looked over her shoulder. “Shrewish tirade? Nay, my lord, you are mistaken. This, however, may suffice.” Victoria spun, bowl in hand. The batter spewed outward. The majority hit Iain in a splattered spray, leaving the remainder in a wide arc across the kitchen walls.
A collective gasp went up. Iain looked down at the batter blotched across breacan and white shirt, then back at Victoria. His gaze held hers and her pulse jumped when he stalked toward her. He neared and she retreated. He took another slow step closer and she retreated more, until shoulders met hard stone and he stopped inches from her. With deliberation, Iain took a finger and wiped some of the mixture off his sash. His eyes never left hers as he lifted the finger and put it in his mouth. With a loud sucking sound, he pulled it out.
“Shortbread,” he remarked. “How fortunate for me you had not added the flour.”
Victoria blinked. He gave a low laugh and stretched his arms out on both sides of her, trapping her against the wall.
“If you wanted to share, sweet, you might have asked.”
He leaned so close his breath fanned her eyelashes. A glint entered his eyes and she belatedly comprehended his intention. Iain rubbed against her, smearing the sweet batter across the front of her dress. Soft contours of her breasts gave way to hard muscle and her nipples tightened. She gasped in surprise. His gaze sharpened. Iain seized her shoulders and yanked her against him, giving her a hard kiss. She lifted a foot with the intention of slamming the heel down on his boot, but he pushed away in time to escape.
“Now, now, love,” he drawled as he headed for the door, “save something for later. Maude, a hot bath, if you please.” He paused in the doorway and looked over his shoulder at Victoria. “Would you care to join me?”