It's getting so close to release day...October 6th is the official date, but I'm already hearing that HIGHLAND DRAGON has made a landing in various cities across the US. To start the celebration early, I wanted to introduce you to the characters in HIGHLAND DRAGON and a snippet from the book where they are introduced...Enjoy!
And get thee over to my contest page. I'm hosting a week long soirée.
AMAZON B&N BORDERS
THE HERO & HEROINE:
LAIRD CALIN MACLEOD & AKIRA NEISH
The untamed hiss of the next captive pierced through the drone of bidders. Hair black as midnight framed her porcelain face—a face twisted into a ferocious expression of revulsion. Oaths spewed from her mouth in English, French, Gaelic, and another language Calin didn’t recognize. Two sentries in black hooded robes restrained her, and unlike the other women, her hands were bound tightly behind her.
“Christ, that’s Akira,” Kendrick announced in a loud whisper then started for the dais.
“Nay.” Calin placed a firm hand on Kendrick’s chest. “Dinnae draw attention to us or our interest in her.” Calin spoke calmly enough, but his insides were erupting. If the guards dared to strike her, he was fully prepared to start a war.
She lunged at the men confining her to the platform. The woman certainly didn’t lack for spit and fire. She was a fighter. Though relieved he’d found her safe, Calin worried over their initial meeting. Introducing himself to his bride under these circumstances might prove to be an awkward task.
THE BEAST: LAIRD BAEN KINNON
Laird Baen Kinnon sat at his trestle table and clutched his throbbing skull. Morning always brought the same damned ache. The same frigid cold. Dawn’s light had already cut through the mist and crawled up the tower wall. Gray light cast a shadow over the young girl cowering in the corner of his solar. He pointed to a satchel atop a three-legged cuttie stool. “Fetch me that poke o’ herbs and come fill my cup with ale, wench.”
The girl shuffled across the moldy floor rushes to do his bidding. She’d spent the night curled up with a few orange cats in front of an empty hearth. Had he not been blind drunk, her pathetic bawling would have kept him up half the night. Luckily, the drink had swiftly overcome him.
Her tear-spiked lashes rose just enough for her to peek at him through dirty, pale hair as she handed him the satchel.
He grinned. Just being in his presence terrified her, and he had yet to touch her.
THE BROTHER: KENDRICK NEISH
Kendrick’s color turned red, his nostrils flared, and his pose took on the stance of an angered warrior. Calin suspected he would lose this battle just as Kendrick dove at him. Calin held one hand out as a shield, but Kendrick twisted that arm behind him. Within a blink, Kendrick cradled Calin’s head in the crook of his arm, constricting the air in his throat.
“Ye be on Kinnon soil, mon, and it would take verra little to snap your wee neck between my brawny arms.”
His comment was delivered with such force Calin couldn’t help but laugh at the man.
Kendrick leaned to the side to study him. “Are ye addlebrained, mon? Mayhap a wee bit light in the head?” Kendrick released him with a forceful shove into a bed of prickly pine needles.
THE MISTRESS: CATRIONA
A woman emerging from the woodland caught Akira's eye. Floating over the lush foliage of the knoll, the woman glowed beneath the fading sun. Beauty and grace surrounded her every step. Flowing pale blonde hair bounced at her waist. A slim figure curved neatly into slender hips under a plain ivory gown. No jewels graced her bodice or her neck, nor did she wear a plaid, but the woman carried herself with the dignity of a noble. As she stepped even closer, Akira was mesmerized by the perfection of her face. High cheekbones pointed to a mouth most men would betray their country for. Then Akira looked into a pair of silver eyes. Not a blemish of color hid in the flecks. Foreboding crawled up her spine. Immediately, Akira felt uncomfortable in her presence.
The woman embraced her in a cold hug. When she spoke, her teeth sparkled. “You must be Calin’s new wife. ’Tis such an honor to finally meet you.”
“I am Akira. And ye are?”
The woman’s smile broadened when she brushed her long blonde locks over her shoulder. “I am the laird’s mistress, Catriona.”
THE BRAGGART: JAIME MACLEOD
“Aye, M’lady. The name’s Jaime.” He, too, pressed his lips to her knuckles, but didn’t release her hand as Alec had. “I have nay wife, but if ye’ve any sisters as bonnie as ye, I’m sure to be lookin’.”
A blush heated her cheeks beneath Jaime’s flattery. Calin’s kin certainly excelled in the art of wooing. She fell into a trance under the dreamy hue of aqua-blue eyes. Jaime had a hint more blonde streaked through his beard, and she knew he would be strikingly handsome beneath his whiskers. Certainly, he would have no trouble finding a wife with his face.
THE SISTER: ISOBEL NEISH
Jaime held Akira's sister, Isobel, in his arms, and she looked as irritated as he looked happy.
“Put me down, ye heathen.” Isobel slapped Jaime’s chest while he twirled her into the chamber. “I swear ye are a swine, Jaime MacLeod. The mon tried to kiss me the whole way here.”
Although Isobel spoke to Akira, her stormy eyes never left Jaime’s face. He set her in a high-backed chair.
“Why did ye not ride with Kendrick?” Akira couldn’t contain her smile. Jaime was a devil, and she didn’t have to guess why he was clean-shaven.
“The brute insisted I ride with him.” Isobel’s flame-kissed locks fell in disarray over angry green eyes when she scowled at Jaime standing possessively overtop her.
THE AUNT & UNCLE: WANDA & KERK
“Ye should be ashamed o’ yourselves.” Calin’s Aunt Wanda rounded the entranceway and seated every man with a piercing gaze. Dark-red fiery tresses framed the ire burning in her cheeks. Calin sensed the wrath she was about to unleash would topple the Devil’s battalion. Though unaware of how long she’d listened to their deliberations, he could only hope she sided with him. He needed an ally.
Wanda filled her lungs with air, glared at Uncle Kerk, and directed her long finger at him. “It galls me to call ye husband. Ye may as weel have branded her a whore. I’ve the mind to take a blade to your bollocks and have Mattie cook them slowly over the spit. Ye’ve nay use for them. Ye have displayed nay courage in the titles ye bear. Nay loyalty to your kinswomen.”
Uncle Kerk’s adam’s apple slid up and down while his eyes rounded. “Darling, ye—”
“Dinnae darling me, ye addleheaded arse. Think ye King James is a force to be reckoned with. Wait till your women hear o’ your decision.” Her eyes narrowed yet further. “Ye are worthless men. Ye think with your cocks and not with your minds. Weel, I hope your cocks keep ye warm at night, for your kinswomen will not.”
THE ADVERSARY: GORDON MACLEOD
Gordon, who was easily the oldest, wore a surly frown. The skin beneath his eyes weighed heavily downward, which told her laughter didn’t find his face often. He would undoubtedly be the hardest to befriend. She stood before him, matching his scowl. “That is assuming ye have wives. One might think it a difficult task to find a wife when one does not speak.”
Gordon didn’t respond, as she expected, nor did he return her look. Crossing her arms defiantly over her chest, she spoke to Calin, but never once removed her stare from Gordon. “M’laird, when I am your lady wife, will I have the authority to give your men permission to speak?”
“For the nonce, I’d like ye to give them permission to speak to me.” Akira thought she caught the hint of a smile threatening Gordon’s face, but she doubted he would crack so easily.
“Just because I give them permission does not mean they will exchange pleasantries with ye.”
She spun around to glare at Calin, her long tresses whipped over her shoulder with the sharp action. Pain stabbed her temples. This did nothing to improve her temper. “Then order them to converse with me.”
AKIRA'S CONFIDANT & HER WEAKNESS:
AILEEN MACLEOD & ANDREW MACLEOD
Alec, and a woman Akira guessed was Alec’s wife, Aileen, scurried after their children. Red-gold locks fell over her face when Aileen bowed. “A thousand pardons, M’lady. They dinnae know their manners.” Aileen attempted to peel the boy from Akira’s neck.
He wouldn’t let go. Wrinkling his nose, he gave his mother a sour expression and tightened his grasp.
Aileen apologized repeatedly. “Andrew, release M’lady this instant.”
“I cannae, Mammie. I love her.”
That did it.
Akira laughed outright while a blush burned her face to the tips of her ears.
Aileen forcefully pulled Andrew off and dropped him to his feet beside her. “Ye can love her from a distance.”
The boy snuggled into his mother’s skirts then gave Akira a tiny wave before sticking his thumb in his mouth. The boy had far too many teeth for such a habit and Akira knew, with nary a doubt, lil’ Andrew was coddled.
THE SUPPORTER: ELSBETH
Holding her hand, Akira noticed the bloodstains speckling her fingertips from multiple pinpricks. But what intrigued her more, were the faint remnants of bruises on her wrists and forearms, and the yellow tint of an aged bruise alongside her high cheekbones. Why would such a timid woman carry such marks? And especially one with child?
“Elsbeth, do ye stay in the keep or have ye a family?” Akira queried nonchalantly, wanting to know more about her.
“I live outside the bailey with my husband, Ian, and my son.”
“So ye already have one child. Ye and your husband must be excited about the arrival of your second.” Akira knew she’d overstepped her bounds. Elsbeth really wasn’t showing to the degree anyone might notice, but Akira had seen her hand flatten over her stomach at least twice while the woman had dressed her.
Elsbeth caressed her stomach. “I am not very far along. Ian does not yet know.”
Of course, there are many more characters;
Lena Kinnon—The BEAST's wife (Akira's mother)
Darach Kinnon—supposed son of Baen Kinnon
Murrdock and Vanora—Kendrick and Akira’s "parents"
Riona and Fiona—Akira's sisters
Logan Donald—Maggie's husband
Father Harrald—Man of the cloth of the Isle of Skye
Sister Esa—Nun at Beauly Priory.
Evie and Tara—Akira’s Maids