Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. on 2013-12-03
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Romance, Scottish, Victorian
“They say,” said the girl, “that people disappear up there. And I heard that the lady doesna’ ever grow any older.”
“The lady?” William asked.
“Lady MacAlasdair. She lives in the castle, and she’s been there years, but she stays young and beautiful forever.”
In the Scottish Highlands, legend is as powerful as the sword—and nowhere is that more true than in the remote village of Loch Aranoch. Its mysterious ruler, Judith MacAlasdair, is fiercely protective of her land—and her secrets. If anyone were to find out what she really was, she and her entire clan would be hunted down as monsters.
William Arundell is on the trail of a killer. Special agent for an arcane branch of the English government, his latest assignment has led him to a remote Highland castle and the undeniably magnetic lady who rules there. Yet as lies begin to unravel and a dark threat gathers, William finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the mystery of the Highlands…and the woman he can neither trust nor deny.
He prays she isn’t the murderer; he never dreamed she was a dragon.
This June marks the release of The Night of the Highland Dragon, the third in Isabel Cooper’s fantastic paranormal Highland Dragon series. To celebrate the release, Isabel is giving us an exclusive peek into some of the MacAlasdair’s more interesting ancestors – some of them may even appear in future books of the series!
Elspet Marion MacAlasdair (1310-1750)
Eldest of the MacAlasdairs to be born after the first war of independence, coming of age as the middle ages were ending, Elspet embraced the Renaissance and all it had to offer. She invested in expeditions to the New World—“one can only fly so far or carry so much, after all”—expanded the library at Loch Aranoch considerably, and, so rumor has it, even joined a troupe of actors near the middle of her life. To her family (including Andrew, the father of Stephen, Colin, and Judith) and respectable guests, she would neither confirm nor deny these stories, but she did say that posing as a boy was easy enough to one accustomed to posing as a human.
From the soot-stained sides of the alley, shadows emerged and became men. Judith counted five: big fellows, all of them, and at least two openly carried long knives. She let out all her breath, hissing it through her teeth, and took a step back.
“It’s all right,” William said, putting a hand on her arm. Oh, good: he was going to try and be protective. This day was going wonderfully. He turned to the men. “Very sorry to disturb you. We’ll just be on our way.”
Protective and diplomatic. Even better.
“Don’t move,” growled one of the larger men. “Don’t run. Don’t scream. You’d better not scream. Nobody’d hear you. Nobody’d come anyway.”
Even from a distance, he reeked of drink. His eyes were glassy, and he grinned when he spoke in a way that Judith didn’t like at all. Neither did she like the way the others were looking at him, taking their cues. On their own, sober, any of them might have been reasonable. Right now she could feel the avalanche building.
Judith took more quick inventory. The men would probably catch up quickly if they tried to run. The alley was dark, and the leader was probably right: she’d never known most people in cities to intervene, and the local constabulary didn’t take much interest in a neighborhood like this one. She wasn’t armed. She didn’t know if William had brought whatever weapon he’d been reaching for out at Finlay’s, or how skilled he was with it if he had. And she was wearing skirts.
She sighed, held still, and decided to try a little diplomacy of her own. “I’m sure we can settle this peaceably. Just leave us enough money for tickets home, aye? We’ll hand over the rest.”
The leader shook his head. “Won’t need money when we’re done with you. Won’t need to go home, either,” he said. Judith didn’t recognize what cue he gave, and he didn’t speak, but she heard footsteps behind her.
Fine, then. Fine.
She whirled, caught the man’s outstretched hand as he tried to grab her arm—they always tried for the bicep if you were a woman, devil only knew why—and used his body as a pivot for her own. Her elbow smashed into his jaw with all her weight behind it. His head snapped sideways with a cracking sound: his jaw, not his neck, for he yelled in agony and staggered back, clutching the side of his face.
There was no time to see William’s reaction.
“Are we finished—” she started to ask.
Then the leader roared and rushed forward, and the rest followed his lead. It was an answer, just not the one Judith had wanted. “I did my best,” she muttered, not sure if she was speaking to William or the robbers or her own conscience. Then she gave herself over to the moment.
About the Author
During the day, Isabel Cooper maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager in legal publishing. In her spare time, she enjoys video games, ballroom dancing, various geeky hobbies, and figuring out what wine goes best with leftover egg rolls. Cooper lives with two thriving houseplants in Boston, Massachusetts.
Rafflecoptor Link: a Rafflecopter giveaway