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The Devil of Clan Sinclair

2013 Scotland-Set Historical Romance Nominee

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Most of my books start with the snippet of an idea that morphs into something else. The Devil of Clan Sinclair began because of something I read about refrigeration. Yep, refrigeration.

Scotland in the 19th century was the breeding ground for hundreds of inventions, things we use in our world today. I find the era – and the people – fascinating.

Macrath Sinclair was one of those fascinating men. He defied his upbringing and was a self-made millionaire. Now that he’d created the empire he wanted, he was intent on beginning his own clan.

That’s where his trouble started.

Here’s the blurb for The Devil of Clan Sinclair:

To dance with the devil. . .

For Virginia Traylor, Countess of Barrett, marriage was merely the vehicle to buy her father a title. Widowhood, however, brings a host of problems. For her husband deliberately spent the money intended for Virginia and her in-laws, leaving them penniless—unless she produces an heir. Desperate and confused, Virginia embarks on a fateful journey that brings her to the doorstep of the only man she’s ever loved.

He’s known as The Devil, but Macrath Sinclair doesn’t care. He moved to a tiny Scottish village in hopes of continuing his work as an inventor and starting a family of his own. He bought the house; he chose the woman. Unfortunately, Virginia didn’t choose him. Macrath knows he should turn her away now, but she needs him, and he wants her more than ever. Whatever game Virginia’s playing, Macrath intends to win—one wickedly seductive deed at a time.

 

BOOKS IN THE SERIES

The Devil of Clan Sinclair #1

The Witch of Clan Sinclair #2

The Virgin of Clan Sinclair #3

The Exile of Clan Sinclair #3.5

Excerpt of The Devil of Clan Sinclair

PROLOGUE

 

 

London

September, 1868

 

Please let him be there. If he hadn’t come to the Duke of Bledsoe’s ball, she didn’t think she could bear it.

He must have been invited. She’d done enough hinting to the duke’s daughter that she’d be very, very pleased if Macrath Sinclair was invited, along with his sister, Ceana.

She’d waited so long already, a whole day, since seeing him. She’d told herself that all she had to do was be patient a few more hours. That refrain had sung through her mind all during the time her maid had dressed her hair, when the gown needed a few last minute stitches to keep one of the silly bows in place, and when her gloves were handed to her. Only one more hour she’d thought as she was inspected by her father and Mrs. Haverstock, turning in a slow circle so her appearance could be judged.

To her surprise, neither her English chaperone nor her father had said a word. Nor had her father frowned, his usual expression in her presence. He only nodded, a sign to precede him into the carriage, Mrs. Haverstock following.

The carriage wheels had been too slow. Her heartbeat had been too fast. Hours, decades, eons later they were finally at the Duke of Bledsoe’s home only for it to take forever before the carriage got to the head of the line and they could leave the vehicle. Because of the crush of people, there was another interminable wait to climb the steep stone steps, and yet another to enter the ballroom.

Would he like her hair? Her maid had done it in an intricate style tonight. What about her new scent from Paris? She’d thought about him the moment she uncapped the flacon, wondering if he would think the rose scent too strong. Would he think her high color attractive? She couldn’t help herself; the thought of seeing him after an absence of twenty-four endless hours reddened her cheeks.

Dear God, please let him be here. Please. She’d promise a dozen things, only let him be here.

She heard Mrs. Haverstock behind her, greeting friends. Moving away, she scanned the crowd for a sight of him.

Thank you, God. There he was. There, just beyond the pillar in the ballroom. Standing there, looking out at the crowd as the music surged around him.

She made herself wait, watching him. He was so handsome in his elegant black evening dress. He stood on the edge of the ballroom, a man with the studied gaze of a person twice his age. His stature was of someone who knew himself well, who’d gone through his own personal battles and won his wars.

Several women stopped, their looks intent. Suddenly, she felt a fierce possessiveness, and wanted to clamp her hands over their eyes to stop their acquisitive looks.

He was hers.

He turned in her direction, his eyes lighting on her. There it was, the smile she’d been anticipating. Slowly at first, dawning with merely a quirk at the corners of his lips, growing as she walked toward him.

She wanted to race to him, throw herself into his arms, press her hands against his chest and feel the solidness of him. Otherwise, she might believe she’d dreamed him, conjured him up from a lonely girl’s prayer and a wishful woman’s yearning.

He was as perfect as any daydream could create him, but he was no illusion. He was Macrath and she was enthralled.

“Are you well?” she asked on reaching him. A full day, nearly twenty-four hours, had passed since she’d seen him last and anything might have happened in the interim.

The smile she’d watched from across the room was now directed solely at her. How wonderful, that an expression could have such warmth, like the sun spearing directly into her.

“I am well, Virginia,” he said. His voice, warm and low, held a roughness that chafed her senses. “And you?”

She was just now starting to heal. The last day without seeing him had been unbearable. She was shriveling up inside for lack of one of his warm smiles. Without seeing his beautiful blue eyes and hearing his Scottish accent, she was not quite herself.

How did she tell him something like that? It seemed like he knew, because his smile faded, and he reached out one hand to hold hers.

She could hear people around them, but it was like a bubble surrounded Macrath and her. No one was important. Nothing else had weight.

“You’re beautiful,” he said.

She smiled, pleased he thought so. Few people did. She was too retiring to be noticed most of the time.

When she just shook her head, he said, “You’re the most beautiful woman in London.”

“You’re beautiful as well,” she said. She didn’t mean handsome, either. He was a gift from God, a creation of masculine beauty.

Even his laugh was glorious.

“Will you dance with me?” he asked, still holding her hand.

He seemed as loath to relinquish it as she was to step back. Prudence dictated that she do so, at least until Macrath spoke to her father, but prudence could go to blazes for all she cared now.

She was gloriously, madly, spectacularly in love with Macrath Sinclair and she didn’t care who knew.

“I’d rather go into the garden,” she said, daring to tell him the truth. She wanted another kiss from him, another stolen embrace.

“It looks to rain,” he said.

“Do you care?”

“Not one whit.”

“I don’t either. Besides, it’s forever raining in London.”

“You’ll find that Scotland is the same in some months.”

“I won’t care,” she said. “It will be my home.”

“Soon,” he said, the look in his eyes growing more intense.

Perhaps she should thank Providence that the weather was souring. Otherwise, she might make a fool of herself in the garden, demanding kiss after kiss.

“Virginia,” a voice called, breaking the spell.

She blinked and turned her head to see her father standing not far away.

Her stomach dropped, and she looked up at Macrath with apology in her eyes.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “but Father’s calling me.”

“I understand. Shall I accompany you?”

“It’s best you don’t,” she said. “I’ve no doubt done something wrong.”

“When I meet with him tomorrow, I’ll tell him the press of business demands a speedy marriage. We’ll be in Scotland before you know it.”

She would be with him wherever that was: in a corner of the garden, in a vestibule in the ballroom, in a hallway, a servant’s stair. The location didn’t matter, as long as she was with Macrath.

She squeezed his hand, then turned and reluctantly walked away, glancing back with a smile. Her father led her to an anteroom and closed the door.

“I’ll not have you making a fool of yourself over that Scot,” he said.

She held herself stiffly, as she did whenever he issued a dictate. The slightest indication that she disagreed with him would only make the punishment worse.

Now, she concentrated on the floor between them, hoping that he wouldn’t see her inability to look him in the face as disrespect.

“I’m sorry, Father,” she said.

Docility was better than rebellion. Easier, too, because she’d once tried to debate a point with him and had been severely punished for doing so. Her governess had taken great delight in using a birch rod. The lesson being that few things were worth physical pain.

Macrath was, and she wondered if her father knew it.

“People will look at me and wonder at the lack of control I have over a female in my own household.”

She’d heard a variation of that comment all her life. Ever since coming to England, however, it had grown more difficult to listen to him, and maintain some appearance of humility while doing so.

“I’m in love with Macrath, Father,” she said, the first time she’d ever admitted such a thing to him. She glanced up at him to find his eyes had narrowed. “You’ve agreed that Macrath could call on you tomorrow,” she hastened to say.

After that, her future would be assured. She would be Macrath Sinclair’s wife.

“I’ve already picked out your husband and it’s not that Scot.”

Her hands were still clasped in front of her. She bowed her head again, her gaze on the crimson patterned carpet. She’d think of anything but her father’s words. Her mind, unaccustomed to joy, had forced her imagination to produce something more familiar, her father’s derision.

“You’re going to be a countess, daughter. How do you feel about that?”

She was going to be sick.

Slowly, she lifted her eyes, unsurprised to find him smiling.

“But you agreed to meet with him,” she said.

“It’s done, Virginia. We’ve just now finalized the arrangements. You’re to be married within the month to the Earl of Barrett.”

Turning, he extended his hand and a woman stepped out of the shadows. “Your future mother in law, Virginia. The Countess of Barrett.”

She gave the woman barely a glance, intent on her father. She said the one word she never said, one tiny word she’d learned had no power in the past. Perhaps it would work now.

“Please.”

The world halted, stilled, hung on a breath of air.

“There’s no fussing about it; the deal has been struck.”

“But you agreed to meet with Macrath.”

He scowled at her. “I won’t tolerate your rebellion, Virginia.”

Turning to the woman, he said, “I’ll have her chaperone take my daughter home, your ladyship. Perhaps a few weeks of contemplating her future will make her grateful for it.”

The woman merely nodded.

“There won’t be any entertainments until after your wedding,” her father said.

Did it matter?

She’d be confined to her room, but she didn’t care. She’d sit and stare out at the world, her body in one place, her soul and heart in another.

Virginia only shook her head, unable to speak, flooded by a sense of despair so deep she was certain she was bleeding inside.