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margaret mallory's Captured By A Laird

nerfa winner and nrc winner

Winner, National Readers' Choice Award, Best Novella
Winner, National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Best Novella
Finalist, Booksellers' Best Award
Finalist, Golden Quill
Finalist, Aspen Gold

THE GIFT: A Highland Novella
by Margaret Mallory

ASIN: B00R5O51U8
Release date: December 2014
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Lily’s well-honed sense for trouble tells her no healer is safe in London while gangs roam the city looking for witches to burn. In the dead of night, she escapes on a northbound ship, intending to return after Christmas celebrations calm the city’s witch fever. But when Lily lands in the wilds of Scotland, her skills for surviving in the city can’t save her.

Roderick MacDonald is on a secret mission for his chieftain when he finds a lass near death on a barren hillside and is forced to take her with him. Though this mysterious Sassenach may have The Gift his clan needs—and he burns with passion for her—he’s determined to resist the enchantment she weaves on his scarred heart.

When love blooms amidst the harsh winter beauty of the Highlands, will these two obstinate souls from different worlds accept the Yuletide gift?





EXCERPT from THE GIFT: A Highland Novella © by Margaret Mallory 2014

Late 1441

They were burning witches.

Lily knew better than to dabble in the black arts, but with witch fever spreading through London like the plague, any woman who sold cures for headaches, warts, or love was at risk.

“Ouch!” Lily pricked her finger in her haste to stitch her gold coins into the boy’s tunic she had acquired for her escape.

As she jerked on the tunic and breeches, she cursed the Duchess of Gloucester, who had attempted to murder the king with sorcery in hope of seeing the crown on her husband’s fat head.

Not that Lily gave a farthing who was king, but why hadn’t the woman simply poisoned him?

Thanks to the duchess’s dance with the devil, gangs were roaming the streets hunting for witches. Many were shocked to learn that the duchess’s co-conspirators in her witches’ coven were priests and monks, but Lily had grown up as the child of a criminal. Evil did not surprise her.

She tilted her head to listen to the sounds in the dark street outside her shop. Were they growing louder? Following her instincts had saved her many times, and they were screaming for her to escape London until this witch-hunting frenzy passed.

Lily’s heart raced as she stuffed her wild, curling red hair into the boy’s cap. She quickly donned the rest of her disguise, stepping into the too-large boots and tossing the rough brown cloak over her shoulders.

An hour ago, she had picked the lock on the baker’s door, crept past the sleeping family, and helped herself to the clothes that were hanging on a hook by the son’s bed. She smelled faintly of yeast, but she was grateful it was not the fishmonger or the skinner who owed her for curing his boils.

That would teach the baker to pay his debts.

Hastily, she gathered small vials of the powders and potions that would be most difficult to replace and wrapped them in her extra pair of wool stockings. These she packed, along with a wineskin, a sharp blade, and a loaf of the baker’s fine bread, into a worn leather bag, which she then slung over her shoulder.

At the door, she paused to take a last look at the shop where she had lived and worked since she was a child of seven. Her heart felt heavy as her gaze traveled over the neat rows of jars lining the shelves, the scrubbed pots hanging by the fire, and the fragrant bunches of drying herbs hanging from the rafters.

She did not fool herself that any of it would be here when she returned. She would have to start from scratch. In the two years since the old herbalist had died and passed the business on to her, Lily had developed a thriving trade. The old woman had taught her well, and Lily had a knack for reading people and uncovering their secrets—valuable skills in a healer.

Her success had led to several marriage proposals from neighboring merchants. She snorted. Romantics all of them. If the church charged her with consorting with demons—which generally involved committing acts too disgusting for anyone but the priests to imagine—not one of the merchants who had professed undying love would defend her.

The men of her family were worse. Even if they offered to help her, which was unlikely, they were unreliable liars and cheats. There was not one person in the entire city of London she was willing to entrust with her safety.

She locked her door, a futile gesture, and hid the key inside her sock as a promise to herself that she would return to her beloved shop. Christmas was not far off. Surely a month of advent festivities would divert the mobs’ attention and make it safe to return.


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