An injured warrior… a lady who won’t let him fail…
Betrothed to a princess until she declares his battle wound has incapacitated him as a man, Sir Niall Oliphant is glad to step aside and let the spoiled royal marry his brother. He’s more than content to fade into the background with his injuries and remain a bachelor forever, until he meets the Earl of Sutherland’s daughter, a lass more beautiful than any other, a lass who makes him want to stand up and fight again.
As daughter of one of the most powerful earls and Highland chieftains in Scotland, Bella Sutherland can marry anyone she wants—but she doesn’t want a husband. When she spies an injured warrior at the Yule festival who has been shunned by the Bruce’s own daughter, she decides a husband in name only might be her best solution.
They both think they’re agreeing to a marriage of convenience, but love and fate has other plans…
Dunrobin Castle, Scottish Highlands
“I want to be knight for the day.” A petulant lass with golden locks crossed her arms over her chest and glowered at the line of grubby lads with their wooden swords tucked into the corded belts of their plaids. For the first time in her short life, she had the chance to prove something.
“Ye canna. Ye’re a lass. Go back to the keep and help the maids with their chores.” Several of them snickered and rubbed elbows at that.
Snorting, another added, “Aye, go and milk a cow.”
“Or knead the bread.”
The list of chores typically delegated to females continued on for several minutes. All the while, the young lass’s face grew redder and redder, her fists tighter and tighter, until one particular lad stepped forward.
He opened his mouth to say something, but she didn’t let him get further than that. She tugged her arm back as she’d seen her brothers do, and let her tiny fist fly, landing hard on his chin.
Zounds, that hurt.
Her knuckles were instantly red and stinging. She thought the whole point of hitting a lad would be to hurt him, not herself.
Surprised, the lad stumbled back a few paces, eyes wide. “What the hell did ye go and do that for? I was going to tell these raven-gut idiots to give ye a shot.”
She was immediately contrite, but being as stubborn as she was, and feeling more than mildly embarrassed, she pursed her lips in a frown and refused to say anything at all.
The other lads were laughing, doubled over as they slapped their knees and rolled around on the ground, clearly not taking her seriously.
“Ye’re on your own then, wee chicken,” the lad said, backing away and rubbing his reddened jaw.
“Wait,” she whispered, stepping forward and looking at him nervously. “Ye’ll really let me try?”
He smirked, green eyes flashing with some emotion she couldn’t understand. “I’m not so sure anymore after the way ye just walloped me.”
The lass stiffened her spine, knowing exactly what mocking was when directed at her. “Why’s that? Ye think I fight like a lass?”
“Nay, just the opposite.”
Most of the lads had stopped laughing long enough to listen, surprised perhaps that the older lad had just admitted her blow had hurt.
“What do ye say, lads, are we scared to have her join in our tournament?”
“Scared?” They laughed. “Not on her life.”
“All right then,” the one she’d given a good smack to said. “We’ll let ye join us.”
She’d not planned for them to actually allow her. Och, she had all sorts of plans involving revenge and sneaking in dressed as a lad, but not once had she thought they’d welcome her. “And if I win?”
His smirk widened. “We’ll let ye be knight for the day.”
Thrusting her chin forward, she gave him a righteous smile. The other lads balked, because it wouldn’t be right for a lass to be the knight for the day, given that she was…well, a lass.
The lad, a little taller than his friends, raised his hand for their silence. “But laddies, ye recall what happens to the knight for a day?”
They narrowed their eyes, unsure what to say, for there was an ominous tone to his voice.
The lass wasn’t certain of what he spoke, either. She only wanted to prove she was good enough, show her da she could beat the lads at their own game, that sewing and wearing dresses wasn’t all she was good at. To prove that her brothers weren’t the only ones who could help defend their castle. But…what else happened?
“The knight has to choose his lady. Who will be your lady?” the lad asked her, his grin growing wider.
Well, she wasn’t going to be sucked into whatever trick he was trying to lay on her. Crossing her arms over her chest, she looked at him confidently. “Why ye of course.”
Eliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty sizzling historical, time-travel and contemporary romance novels. Under the name E. Knight, she pens rip-your- heart-out historical fiction. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain with her own knight in shining armor, three princesses and two very naughty puppies.