I am so pleased to welcome my dear friend, Evie MacKenzie whose debut novel HIGHLAND PAWN was released last week at Ellora’s Cave. Take it away Evie …

First, I want to thank Nina for inviting me to her blog. She’s a wonderful person and a fantastic writer, and I’m honored to be her guest. (It’s all true, but I won’t turn down any brownie points I may earn from it!)

With the recent release of my erotic romance novel “Highland Pawn” from Ellora’s Cave Publishing, I figured I would share some background on how the story came to be.

I have always been fascinated by Scotland and its rich history, most notably the decade leading up to the Battle of Culloden in 1745. It was an era when kilts were permitted, bagpipers played freely, and many of the men wore their hair long. (*sigh*) In my opinion, it was one of the most romantic periods in Scotland’s history. It was also one of the most turbulent as the Scots distrusted the English and vice-versa, often resulting in bloodshed on one or both sides. Talk about fodder for conflict! There was no doubt in my mind this was the time period I wanted to write about.

Alexander MacKay, the hero in “Highland Pawn”, marched onto the page and demanded to be noticed. With the imposing frame of a Highland warrior, his long, dark locks and ruggedly handsome features he quickly had my attention. Alex was fiercely protective of the people who mattered to him and he made a formidable enemy. Though he refused to acknowledge he had a softer side, his actions hinted at those emotions. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the man.

Maggie Fraser was no less insistent when she introduced herself. Her determination to help her family came before her own concerns and desires, and it stirred something inside of me. She wasn’t fearless but she was brave. Not to mention hot-tempered, much to Alex’s chagrin. The two of them together made for fascinating writing. I was anxious to see where their relationship was going from one page to the next.

Happy reading!

Maggie Fraser is willing to do whatever it takes to save her family’s estate, even gaining the cooperation of the ruthless Duke of Westingham. She possesses what he desires most—a maidenhead ripe for the plucking.

Her journey takes her to a dangerous part of the Highlands, a voyeur’s paradise known as Bare Brook. When she finds herself in a bind, the devilishly sexy Alexander MacKay comes to her rescue. The kilted warrior is not only the duke’s biggest adversary, but also her greatest weakness.

Alex is on a mission to destroy the Duke of Westingham when he’s forced to play Maggie’s protector. To say the alluring Miss Fraser is a distraction is the understatement of the century. She wants him to teach her how to seduce and please a man, and the fire between them burns out of control. When he learns she’s saving herself for the duke, he’s more determined than ever to kill the man. But his actions could destroy her family and drive a permanent wedge between them.

It had been a day since Alex had taken her from the cave and, on the whole, she seemed to be doing much better. He wrung out the cloth he’d dipped in the brook and placed it over her forehead, more as a comfort than as an aid for healing.

“Thank you,” Margaret uttered, bringing her hand to rest on the cool, damp fabric. “Not just for the cloth, but…for everything.”

He hadn’t said as much as a word to her about the incident since she regained consciousness, but he could no longer hold his tongue. “Ye willna leave my side again.”

“But I—”

He effectively silenced her with a glare. Rarely did he have need to give orders to someone of the fairer sex, but when he did, his decree brooked no argument.

“Until I return ye safely to your da, ye will stay by my side, Margaret Fraser. I’ll turn my back while ye tend to your womanly necessities, but—God as my witness—I’ll not let ye be taken again.”

Alex had to look away from those haunting green eyes of hers, lest he give his thoughts away.

Never had he been so worried for someone in all his life. Just the thought of what might have happened to her made his hands shake with rage. The Highlands were no place for a lady to wander by herself, and this incident proved it.

“I see,” Margaret stated quietly. “I suppose we should get it over with, then.”

Alex turned back to her. “Meaning?”

“Meaning,” she began with a grimace, “if I don’t find a cluster of bushes or trees in the next moment or two…”

With a slight blush, Alex helped her to her feet. “Well, I guess ye’d best see to it, aye?”

Maggie straightened her skirts, never once taking her eyes off Alex’s broad back. To her surprise, he’d been a gentleman of honor and allowed her privacy. Well, as much privacy as five strides of distance granted, anyway.

“Are ye decent yet?” Alex asked, hands braced on his hips as he shifted back and forth.

“Yes. You may look, MacKay.”

His shoulders relaxed before he turned to face her. “I wish I could have afforded ye more privacy, but given the gravity of the situation…”

Maggie waved her hand. “Think nothing of it. Besides, I’ll be saying the same to you afore the day’s out.” It was nearly impossible for Maggie to keep a straight face when he arched an eyebrow. Apparently he hadn’t thought that far ahead. “If I can’t leave your side, MacKay, then I’ll be right there when you’re…um…relieving yourself too.” She blinked innocently. “I’m correct, aren’t I?”

Realization donned in his eyes, and he quickly drew back. “I, uh, I…suppose ye’re right.”
It was difficult to tamp the impish grin that wanted to take over. “And when you wash in the brook, I’ll be there as well.”

Maggie swore she saw the corners of his mouth start to turn upward before one of his big, bronzed hands reached up to stroke his stubbled chin. “Really, now? I hadn’t thought of that.”

Maggie gently raked her bottom lip with her teeth, a move that provoked a heated look from her opponent. “That could prove interesting, could it not?”

Alex stepped closer. “Have ye ever bathed with a man, Margaret?”

Her pulse raced as their gazes met. There was a hungry look in his eyes, and he appeared ready to pounce. To keep her hands steady, she clasped them in front of her. “Does my brother count? When we were bairns, they used to bathe us together.”

His blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. “Nay. It doesna count.” He waited for her answer only a moment longer. “Well?”

Maggie lowered her lids coyly. “I don’t believe I shall answer that question, MacKay. If I say I have, I’d be painting myself the strum. If I say I haven’t, well… Would I appear too innocent, I wonder.”

Alex laughed, and she wondered how he’d gotten so close without her noticing. His earthy, masculine scent enveloped her like a favorite blanket. “Oh Maggie, I imagine ye fall somewhere in between.”

His chest was partially exposed, and he was near enough to touch. Her fingers itched to reach out to him, but she held back. “Perhaps I do.”

It was Alex who breached the invisible barrier, twirling a lock of her hair around his fingers. She sucked in a breath as he wove his way through the thick mass of tresses. “Ye are dangerous to a man’s self-control, Margaret.”

The flutters in her stomach intensified as he leaned closer. Breathless, she responded, “Why would I wish for you to restrain yourself?”

She felt rather than heard the feral growl that reverberated in his chest as he took possession of her mouth. The sweet shock of his tongue fully engaged with hers made her knees weaken in response, and she gripped his shoulders to keep herself upright. His arms tightened around her waist as he deepened the kiss, and an errant hand found its way to the curve of her buttocks.

Wetness pooled between her thighs as he dragged her firmly to him. With authoritative hands, he guided her so that her pelvis was grinding against him in a slow, tantalizing rhythm. Before she knew it, her body assumed the natural cadence, allowing his hands to explore elsewhere. His fingers lightly traced the path of her spine, invoking a tingling sensation that made her want to press against him even harder.

Cupping one of her breasts, he teased the nipple to the point of delirium.

“Maggie,” he whispered after dragging his lips away from hers. “Ye’ve no idea how long I’ve wanted to touch ye this way.”

*fans face* Whew, nice excerpt, thanks for sharing Evie. So I’m curious people, have you had characters from a story haunt you and not let you go? Talk amongst yourselves for a bit while I go take a cold shower …