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In the Laird's Bed

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«In the Laird's Bed» - Джоанна Рок

Indulge your fantasies of delicious Regency Rakes, fierce Viking warriors and rugged Highlanders. Be swept away into a world of intense passion, lavish settings and romance that burns brightly through the centuriesBestselling Harlequin author Joanne Rock writes sexy contemporary romances and medieval historicals that have been reprinted in 22 countries and translated into 16 languages. A Golden Heart winner and RITA nominated author, Joanne has been recognized with numerous writing awards including a Blue Boa, a Beacon and a Romantic Times W. I. S. H. Award.A former college teacher and public relations coordinator, she has a master's in English from the University of Louisville and started writing when she became a stay-at-home mom, deceiving herself that she'd have more time. 20 books and three kids later, she lives with her husband and sons in the Adirondacks, committed to mass chaos and happily-ever-afters. Visit Joanne at: http://joannerock. com.
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The soft fullness of her lower lip distracted him when he needed to be relentless.

The soft fullness of her lower lip distracted him when he needed to be relentless.

He remembered the feel of her against him when he’d shuttled her behind the tapestry earlier. The scent of her beside him during dinner. The taste of her mead tonight reminded him of a long-ago kiss. He had walked away from her easily enough five years ago, certain he’d been wronged. As a man in his prime he had not worried over the loss of a woman who was little more than a girl at the time.

But seeing Cristiana now—her strength, her full-grown beauty—had put him in a strange distemper. Because no matter how sweetly innocent Cristiana appeared on the outside, she possessed the heart of a warrior.

In the Laird’s Bed

Harlequin® Historical #1026—January 2011

Author’s Note

As an author of medieval romance, I have frequently been inspired by the Arthurian legends. Last winter I reread Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and really enjoyed the idea of a stranger who appears on a dark winter’s night to issue a challenge. The set-up for In the Laird’s Bed was the result of that inspiration.

From there, however, Cristiana and Duncan took full control of their story. Both have secrets to keep, a task that becomes dangerously difficult as heat flares between them. Life in this medieval keep quickly becomes a pressure cooker, with nowhere else to go for miles in the thick of a Scots winter.

I hope you enjoy In the Laird’s Bed, and don’t forget to learn more about my upcoming releases at

Happy reading,

Joanne Rock

In the Laird’s Bed

Joanne Rock

Available from Harlequin® Historical and JOANNE ROCK

The Wedding Knight #694

The Knight’s Redemption #720

The Betrothal #749

“Highland Handfast”

My Lady’s Favor #758

The Laird’s Lady #769

The Knight’s Courtship #812

A Knight Most Wicked #890

The Knight’s Return #942

In the Laird’s Bed #1026

and in Harlequin Historical Undone! ebook

A Night of Wicked Delight

The Virgin’s Pursuit

Did you know that some of these novels are also available as ebooks? Visit

For Ann Leslie Tuttle and the editorial team at Harlequin Historical who make my work such a pleasure.

Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your passion for stories!



Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen



The scent of her beckoned.

Even from the desolate rocky outcropping beneath the guard tower of Domhnaill, Duncan the Brave caught Lady Cristiana’s fragrance on the wind. The intoxicating smell was no herb-laden soap or rose-strewn bath, however. It was the scent of her fabled mead that rolled down the cliff side, surrounding Duncan and his men in a cloud of steamed clover and honey.

Who could have guessed a woman who brewed such heavenly delights would refuse a man shelter?

“Tell her I ask in the name of Christian charity,” Duncan called to the surly guard who did not wish to admit them to the ancient seat of the Domhnaill family. The grizzled old keeper of the gate had left Duncan’s men waiting many long, cold minutes while he exchanged messages with his hard-hearted lady.

“’Tis the laird who does not wish to shelter his enemy,” the guard returned, even as Duncan knew the man lied. Rumors of the old laird’s poor health had traveled far. He did not rule his own keep anymore. “He bade me inform you there is a monastery nearby—”

“On the other side of a mountain,” Duncan pointed out, giving his frustration vent. “Tell your laird and his heartless daughter that I will gladly hand over my armor for the chance to thaw the icicles from my cloak until the storm passes.”

Curse the Domhnaill pride.

In the five years that had passed, they had not for given the wound suffered by their family when Duncan’s brother had tested the bridal bed with Cristiana’s sister before their nuptials. They’d declared the marriage contract void and took the lovers’ act as a declaration of war, widening a long rift between their clans.

Wind whistled down the rocks, swirling in erratic bursts around his men’s feet and lifting the horses’ manes to blow wildly. Icy snow had fallen hard all day, making their march north impossible. Duncan had no choice but to seek shelter and wait out the storm.

Just as he’d planned.

Above them, the old guard disappeared and—after a few more moments—a new face appeared through the frosty veil of snow. The figure leaned through the guard-tower window, prompting a long fall of cinnamon-colored hair and gold silk scarves over the casement. The heavy fur hood she wore over her head did little to contain the lush, unbound locks in the fierce weather.

The mistress of the mead herself.

Cristiana of Domhnaill did not greet him with a smile.

“You will submit every last blade and arrow, sir,” she commanded in a tone that suggested she was not accustomed to being disobeyed. “And even then, you will find our hospitality is limited for oath-breakers.”

“You look well, my lady.” Duncan bowed in the saddle, a difficult task considering his bones had frozen stiff a few leagues back. “I’ve no doubt your hospitality will be as generous as your forgiving heart.”

“I’m pleased we understand each other. I will lower the bridge, but you must await my men for the disarming before you set foot upon it.” At her words, the bridge mechanism gave a mighty creak, the big gears moaning in protest. “We sup late to welcome the new year and you may join us then. I have guests within, sir, and would not have admitted you except that I cannot afford to appear uncharitable.”

In a swirl of golden veils and cinnamon strands, she departed, leaving the day colder still in her wake. She was not present to see Duncan’s satisfied grin.

“Our gamble has rewarded us with success.” He crossed himself in gratitude, since the risk could have been a lethal one. For although he’d hoped to plead a traveler’s need for admittance to the Domhnaill stronghold, he had not anticipated how quickly the cold and snow would come upon them. The unforgiving Highland winters had laid more men low than enemy blades.

Beside him, one of his best knights snorted.

“You call it success that we’ve been lured into the lap of the enemy with naught to defend ourselves?” Ronan the Lothian eyed the armed guards riding over the lowered drawbridge with suspicion. “I’ve always known you were hell-bound, Duncan, but I thought you would at least go to your death with sword raised and curses flying.”

“Some battles cannot be won with a blade.” Un buckling his sword belt, Duncan hoped he could trust his instincts on Cristiana’s character.

He’d known her only briefly five years ago, but she’d once pledged herself to him with a sweetness he’d never forgotten. Had it not been for his brother’s actions, both he and Duncan would have been wed to Domhnaill women for many moons by now.

Calamity would not have befallen his people. The men and riches of this keep would have protected his lands.

Ronan scowled as he withdrew an ice-encrusted dagger hilt from a strap at his thigh.

“Aye. And in this case, your enemy might be subdued with the only sword you’ll still possess when we are finished here.” Ronan lowered his voice as the Domhnaill guards drew closer to retrieve the growing pile of steel.

Divested of all his weapons, Duncan guided his horse up onto the bridge planks.

“’Twas such a tactic that created trouble last time.” He’d never understood why the Domhnaills felt the need to break a betrothal contract for their daughter, when the union had only been consummated early.

Their excuse had been that Donegal was too rough in the taking. But what pampered virgin did not complain thus after her first time?

Nay, insufferable Domhnaill pride had cost them all dearly. Even Cristiana, whom Duncan had treated with naught but fairness, had cried off their betrothal. She’d somehow convinced her father that the Culcanon family had come to Domhnaill only to further the long rift between the families, and that Duncan would surely treat her unkindly one day if they were to be man and wife. The old laird—even then, well ruled by his daughters—had called off the alliance and refused the marriages. And that action had marked the beginning of all the problems that had torn apart Duncan’s clan these past three years.

But not for much longer. With a secret token concealed on a thong beneath his tunic, he possessed a key to solving the matter of his ravaged lands and divided people. A map that would lead him to the long-buried wealth of a generations-old ancestor whom he shared with Cristiana. All he needed was enough time to search it out before she banished him from her keep forever.


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