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He left his bride to go to war...
After years of soldiering, Michael Brodie returns to his Highland estate to find that the bride he left behind has become a stranger. Brenna is self-sufficient, competent, confident-and furious. Despite her anger at Michael's prolonged absence, Brenna has remained loyal to her husband, though Michael's people, and most especially the uncle who held the estate together for him, make it clear they expect Michael to set Brenna aside.
Though his most important battle will be for her heart.
Michael left Brenna when she needed him most, and then stayed away even after the war ended. Nonetheless, the young man who abandoned her has come home a wiser, more patient and honorable husband. Brenna is hurt, bewildered, and tired of fighting for the respect of those around her, but if she trusts Michael with the truths she'd been guarding, he'll have to choose between his wife and everything he holds dear.
Sometime after she’d fallen exhausted into her bed, Brenna felt the mattress dip and shift. A pleasant whiff of vetiver, whiskey—and meadow grass?—came to her as her husband arranged himself two feet to her left.
The next sound was harder to decipher, but she managed—the soles of two big male feet rubbing together, the bedtime equivalent of shaking the dust of the day from one’s feet, a small safeguard in the direction of keeping the sheets clean if conducted with those feet hanging over the side of the bed.
Michael punched his pillows next, several stout blows that would have knocked wayward notions from grown men.
“Are you trying to wake me up, Husband?”
The punching stopped, and she felt him flop down onto the mattress—and heard the put-upon male sigh with which he tucked himself in.
“You did not lock the door, Brenna. My things are in this room.”
So was his wife.
“Neither one of us wants talk.” The bed was huge, and they weren’t touching, but Brenna could feel her husband thinking.
“I did not want you to conclude I was sneaking up on you.”
“You’re hard to miss when encountered in a bed, Michael. Go to sleep. Morning comes quickly.” And yet, she was pleased the pillows had taken a few warning shots on her behalf.
“You want time.”
“I want a good night’s sleep.” Though she should have anticipated that, like any man, Michael would want to beat a topic to death once broached. He could not ponder a discussion and undertake it in manageable portions; he must have done with it, regardless of the hour.
“I want time, too, Brenna Maureen.”
Brenna rolled to her side, wishing she’d left a candle burning, despite the extravagance. “Time for what?”
“I was a good soldier, once I saw what was expected of me. It’s part of the reason I went to France. I was to look after my men, the same as a laird looks after his people. When I went to France, it was much the same, though I was in a garrison with soldiers of a different nationality. We looked after one another, most of the time, and when a man lapsed in that duty, he suffered consequences.”
What was he saying, and why must he say it to her in pitch darkness?
“If I were planning to run off, Michael Brodie, I would have scarpered long since. Many and many a family has left the Highlands, including entire branches of clan MacLogan. I could easily have gone with them.” Though her own clansmen had hardly recalled where they’d stashed her, once she’d come to live at Castle Brodie.
A considering pause ensued, and then Brenna felt a single, callused finger trace down the side of her jaw.
“You might have left, but you stayed. I’m glad you stayed.”
About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.
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