Connie Brockway begins her magnificent Highland trilogy with the tale of a rogue no woman can resist—and a free spirit whose pleasures are strictly forbidden.
Restless, daring, proud—they are the Merricks: Ashton, the eldest, the passionate one; Raine, his younger brother, the reckless one; and Fia, their sister, the ravishing one. Born of bad blood, they were raised in the Scottish Highlands on lands that belonged to their mother’s kin, the McClairens—until their English father seized the ancestral stronghold for his own. Yet all are destined to find loves as wild and glorious as the isle they call home.
With a reputation for hell-raising and heartbreaking, Ashton Merrick seemingly cannot be tamed. But family secrets force Ashton to do his ruthless father’s bidding—which, in this case, means escorting his missing ward, Rhiannon Russell, back to McClairen’s Isle. As a young orphan, Rhiannon never once set eyes on her negligent guardian—but now that she’s grown into a delicate beauty, Ashton suspects his father intends to claim her as his fourth wife. What Ashton can never anticipate is the uncontrollable desire Rhiannon ignites in his own wary heart.
Ash is a smoldering, contained (hence his name) Scotsman; Rhiannon is a fiery young Scotswoman whose clan was destroyed by Ash's people when she was a child. Rhiannon's 10 years of safety and freedom from fear in the village of Fair Badden abruptly end a few weeks before her scheduled wedding to Squire Watt's youngest son, Phillip. When cynical Ashton Merrick--the eldest son of a deceased Scottish mother and a dissolute, sadistic English father--arrives in Fair Badden, he is surprised at the uncomplicated kindness he encounters in the village and is even more astonished to realize he's falling in love with Rhiannon. The remnants of Ash's suspicious nature prove ultimately advantageous, however: he is the only one to realize that certain recent "accidents" involving the penniless Rhiannon are actually threats to her life. Unfortunately, whisking her to McClairen's Isle offers no sanctuary, as Ash discovers his father has far more sinister plans for Rhiannon than making her his fourth wife. Skullduggery, bitter English-Scottish hatreds and harrowing cat-and-mouse pursuits fill the ebb and flow of this 18th-century romance, the first volume of the McClairen's Isle trilogy by veteran romance writer Brockway.