The Winter Laird
Mists of Fate #1
November 17, 2015
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Successful matchmaker Brianagh O’Rourke believes in happily-ever-afters...just not her own. She’s convinced passion only exists in her dreams. When she reluctantly accepts a marriage proposal, Bri decides she needs a vacation―but she didn't expect it to be in 13th century Ireland.
Laird Nioclas MacWilliam just wants peace for his clan. The time for him to marry has come, and after waiting years for his ally to present their daughter, he’s agreed to marry another. But on the eve of his nuptials, a daring rescue brings his missing betrothed right into his arms.
And she does not want to be there.
Brianagh has to return to the future. Nioclas has to marry. He offers a solution for the both of them: She marries him and stays for three months, and they work together to convince his clan they are a love match. In return, he vows to safely return her home. But as the days turn to weeks, they both begin to see what a happily-ever-after could be. And when the time comes, does Brianagh return to the life she’s built, or does she remain in the past for a chance at true love?
“In my clan, when you marry for love or fall in love with your wife, you are not expected to marry once she’s dead.” At her gasp, Nioclas shook his head. “No, do not misunderstand me. I have no reason to hurt you. You wish to return to the life you’ve built in your country, and I need to marry, if only to stop ambitious sires with very young girls whom I have no interest in taking as a lover or a wife. If you agree to stay for three months, which is enough time for other clans to hear of our nuptials, and enough time for my clan to perceive us in love, I will return you to your home, unscathed. And I will arrange travel with men who will verify your status as a clan widow.”
She considered that; he would believe that she’d need the protection of widowhood to get along in the world, and she appreciated his kindness in thinking of it. She nodded, then asked, “Do you know of Newgrange?”
Obviously not the answer he expected. “I cannot say that I am familiar with it.”
Brianagh flashed back to the brochure in the car and remembered reading it was “rediscovered” in 1699. She wasn’t sure about Dowth, though. “How far are we from Dublin?”
His impassive mask stayed firmly in place. “Four, perhaps five days’ ride.”
Brianagh hadn’t built a thriving company based on indecision. She had a great aptitude for assessing a situation and making executive decisions as fast as she could gather all pertinent information. And in this situation, she knew she couldn’t get anywhere near Newgrange if they were that far from Dublin.
She would need this man’s help to get home. There wasn’t any alternative. She had no money, no transportation, and no sense of direction, as James repeatedly pointed out to her whenever she called him, lost on some back road in the suburbs of the city.
She let out a sigh, then nodded. “If you promise to bring me to Dublin, I will agree to this.”
She could see he didn’t understand why she wanted to go there, but all he responded with was, “As you will. And, as we’re to be married...you may call me Nioclas.”
She inclined her head. “I’m Brianagh. But my friends call me Bri.”
“Those closest to me call me Nick.”
“Shall I call you Nick?”
“I prefer Nioclas,” he replied dryly, “but I suppose, as you’ve accepted my hand for the next three months, you may call me whatever you wish, as long as it remains ‘my laird’ in front of any clansmen. Shall I call you Bri?”
“I prefer ‘my lady,’” she said, fighting a smile, “but you may call me ‘my lady Brianagh.’”
“You’re rather feisty,” Nioclas said, fighting his own smile. “I do think we’ll get along quite well.”
“Talk to Reilly,” she suggested as they headed back to the main building. “He’ll tell you all about how feisty I am. Just don’t believe it.” Brianagh cautioned herself not to let her guard down, but she already felt her heart lighten. She just prayed he was true to his word, for she fully realized she needed someone’s help to get home.
A fake wedding and marriage for three months?
She was a matchmaker by trade. She knew all the signs to look for in a match. She could certainly pretend most of them to uphold her end of the bargain. It seemed a small price to pay to get back to her life.
Born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts, Nancy Scanlon wrote her first romance novel at age 16, when she realized that fictional boyfriends were much easier to figure out than real ones. In the time since, she managed to earn a degree in English, obtain a graduate certificate in creative writing from the University of Cambridge, and marry the man of her dreams (but she still holds tight to her fictional boyfriends).
Currently, she resides in Puerto Rico with her husband, two children, and two dogs. When not writing, Nancy spends her time reading, reviewing and blogging about romance novels, watching too much HGTV, and taking care of her family.