The Groom Wore Plaid
Highland Weddings Series
By Gayle Callen
February 23, 2016
Mass-Market ISBN: 9780062268006 * $7.99
E-ISBN 9780062268013 * $5.99
Falling in love means tempting fate in this passionate new novel in USA Today bestselling author Gayle Callen’s Highland Wedding series.
Maggie McCallum’s dreams about her new fiancé aren’t the romantic sort. It’s not just that she was bartered to Owen Duff like a piece of property to end a clan feud. She’s also haunted by premonitions of his death on their upcoming wedding day. Yet the exasperating Highlander won’t let her call it off, even though his life and his clan are both in jeopardy.
Owen has wanted Maggie in his bed since he first glimpsed her years ago. If their union restores peace between their clans, so much the better. But while lusting after another chief’s sister had its risks, growing to trust Maggie is far more dangerous. Owen is falling deeply in love with the one woman he cannot hope to claim…and survive.
Maggie McCallum was only sixteen and Owen Duff eighteen the autumn their families spent in Edinburgh. Her mother had said she was too young for courtship, but Maggie secretly scoffed at that. Men looked at her now, and she was finally allowing herself to give a flirtatious look back.
And then at a dancing assembly, she saw Owen, Viscount Duncraggan, heir to the earldom of Aberfoyle. She’d met him only once before, at a dinner with their parents. She’d been twelve, he fourteen, and he’d ignored her. Now a friend giggled and pointed him out.
“He’s from the Duff clan,” the girl said. “Even I ken that the McCallums and the Duffs have always despised each other.”
Maggie nodded without really listening. She was staring at Owen with wide, curious eyes. He did not wear a belted plaid as so many of her family did, but an expensive tailored coat and waistcoat over knee breeches, and the polished sword at his hip sparkled in the candlelight when he strode across the dance floor to bow to a blushing girl. He had a thin face and bony shoulders that hinted at the broad strength of the man he would become. His sandy hair was gathered in a haphazard queue on his neck, loose strands brushing his cheeks as if he were too busy to be bothered fastening it more securely.
“Isn’t your brother to marry his sister? Ye’ll be practically family.”
Family or not, Maggie knew better than to be the McCallum who approached a Duff in public, right in front of her mother. She thought of her brother’s misery at marrying a woman he didn’t know or love, the way he’d done foolish, reckless things in anger when he’d first discovered his fate at thirteen. Maggie had pitied him, and felt guilty that she was secretly glad it wasn’t she forced to marry a Duff.
Her next meeting with Owen wasn’t auspicious—she merely passed him on the stairs outside her flat on High Street, as dusk settled in dark waves on Edinburgh. The tall building with a dozen floors housed all manner of people, from the chimney sweep in the cellar to the dancing master in the garret. The best floors were reserved for noblemen, and though her father didn’t have a title, he was the chief of the Clan McCallum. Her mother had leased the flat to be near the earl’s family, since her son was marrying into them, but she did not want her daughter involved beyond what civility expected.
Upon seeing Maggie, Owen came to a stop on the stairs and grinned that grin that lived in her dreams for many years to come. His warm brown eyes made her think of the chocolate English ladies favored for their morning drink, and as they took her in, skimming her form, she felt as suitably overheated as that cup she’d only once clutched in her hands on a cold winter morning in the Highlands.
She wanted to scold him for his bold gaze but then she saw the round tube he carried.
“Is that a telescope?” she demanded.
Those eyes now brightened with more than warmth. “Aye, I’m heading out to gaze upon the stars. Have ye looked through one before?”
She shook her head. She’d done nothing more intellectual than read passages from the Bible—she hadn’t been allowed more, had no access to other books. Knowing there was a whole world of knowledge out there made her ache with regret and frustration.
He held out a hand. “I’m Owen. Do ye want to come?”
She hesitated, realizing he didn’t recognize her. In that long moment she thought of her grandparents already preparing for bed, the fact that she’d just seen her mother into a sedan chair to meet with friends, and that her brother lived in his own flat near the university. She was alone.
Owen stood a couple stairs below her, and that put them at just about the same height. She stared into his eyes again, and the admiration and curiosity made her unfurl like a blossom in springtime.
But she had to be honest. Taking a deep breath, she said, “I’m Maggie McCallum. ’Tis my brother who’s to marry your sister.”
He looked at her for a long moment, and the first feelings of regret and resignation washed through her.
But Owen didn’t rush away, only extended his hand closer to her. “Nice to meet ye, Maggie. Do ye still want to come with a dreaded Duff?”
She bit her lip to keep from giggling like a foolish girl. She was sixteen, a woman now. He obviously didn’t remember her from four years before. Maybe that was for the best. Putting her hand in his, she let him lead her out into the twilight.
During the next few weeks, Owen was the excitement in days that were once dreary and repetitive. Sneaking away to ride down to the shore at the Firth of Forth, boating, exploring the grounds of Edinburgh Castle, or even meandering through shops seemed like wild adventures when she was at Owen’s side.
Rather than deter her, the very forbiddance of a friendship between them caused her to be far too reckless. He was so very different from the men she knew. He discussed physics and chemistry and astronomy as if she was as smart as he. She saw his wonder in the world, but when she asked if he would be a scientist, his expression turned hard as he said his father had forbidden it. He was the heir to an earldom, and would be educated as such. If he didn’t study the classics, his father would refuse him attendance at university next year.
Maggie sympathized, and distracted him from his sad and angry thoughts, but she could not stop dwelling on her own confusion. Every moment she spent in his company, Owen seemed more and more familiar to her, as if they’d met much earlier in their childhood, though he swore they had not. Sometimes it was as if a ghost of a dream teased her from just beyond the shadows, and she shivered.
Her dreams were nothing to make light of. More than once, she’d dreamed something that eventually came true.
THE GROOM WORE PLAID –
After a detour through fitness instructing and computer programming, GAYLE CALLEN found the life she’d always dreamed of as a romance writer. This USA Today bestselling author has written more than twenty historical romances for Avon Books, and her novels have won the Holt Medallion, the Laurel Wreath Award, the Booksellers’ Best Award, and been translated into eleven different languages. The mother of three grown children, an avid crafter, singer, and outdoor enthusiast, Gayle lives in Central New York with her dog Uma and her husband, Jim the Romance Hero. She also writes contemporary romances as Emma Cane.
Visit her website at www.gaylecallen.com.
Connect with Gayle Callen
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