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Scotland, 1890Lillian Desalles has no business trespassing in Iain Darroch's family stronghold. By rights, the American beauty shouldn't even be able to see him. Cursed to wander the Highlands for all time, Iain appears to other mortals as a specter. Yet to Lily, he's every inch a man. And the desires that have been dormant for over a century come crashing back to life at her touch.Lily needs to claim her late husband's Scottish property if she's to have any chance of independence. Invergale keep is rugged and rough but breathtaking–as is the warrior protecting it. And loving the Highlander may free him at last…or doom her to share his fate forever.Secrets of the Darroch Clan
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Scotland, 1890

Lillian Desalles has no business trespassing in Iain Darroch’s family stronghold. By rights, the American beauty shouldn’t even be able to see him. Cursed to wander the Highlands for all time, Iain appears to other mortals as a specter. Yet to Lily, he’s every inch a man. And the desires that have been dormant for over a century come crashing back to life at her touch.

Lily needs to claim her late husband’s Scottish property if she’s to have any chance of independence. Invergale keep is rugged and rough but breathtaking—as is the warrior protecting it. And loving the Highlander may free him at last…or doom her to share his fate forever.

Secrets of the Darroch Clan

The Highlander’s Haunted Kiss

Joanne Rock

The Victorian period did not lack for ghost stories. In fact, some call it the Golden Age of the Ghost Story. I have always loved Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, where a would-be governess takes a position watching over the children of a wealthy eccentric and faces ghostly occurrences at every turn. So it was with great joy that I sat down to write my own Victorian-era tale of the supernatural. As a longtime medieval fan, I couldn’t resist making my paranormal heroes from a fierce clan of Highlanders.

Enter the Darroch brothers. They are guarding ancient secrets in an old, enchanted forest, secrets that Lillian Desalles shouldn’t know. But after facing the rigors of London society and a ruthless American father, Lillian takes in her stride an encounter with a ghostly Highlander. Especially one as appealing as Iain Darroch.

I hope you enjoy the stories in Secrets of the Darroch Clan. Prepare for some sexy romances with just a touch of shivery haunting!

Happy reading!

Table of Contents

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Book #1 Secrets of the Darroch Clan


The Legend

In the most remote hills of Am Monadh, Scotland’s ancient Grampian Mountains, the forests keep secrets from bygone days. Shifting mists hide murky lochs while winding rivers can lead hapless travelers in circles. Here, a legend lingers from the earliest of times, a tale passed down among the hardy souls who carve out a living in this unforgiving land.

It is whispered that the veil between worlds grows thin in those lush glens and dense forests where progress does not tread. And on a quiet day, if one wanders onto the wrong path, the mountain mists can lure a person into the land of the Sidhe, the magical fey folk of the Celtic lands who exist in a time outside our own.

Untouched by the passing years, these Otherworldly beings live in an invisible realm alongside us, but they are sometimes perceived out of the corner of an eye—a movement in the trees, a flash of color in the bushes. Occasionally, one of these lovely immortals is glimpsed as if in a dream, so impossibly compelling that most men won’t believe the vision could be real. Very rarely, a mortal can be lured into the timeless lands for the entertainment of the mystical beings that live there, only to be cast back into the real world years later, where their old existence never feels as magical as it did in those enchanted green hills.

Every now and then, a determined mortal tries to cling to that fey world by refusing to leave. One stubborn Highlander named Fergus Darroch even went so far as to kidnap a particular Sidhe female who captured his heart. But down that path lay madness. Or, in the case of the Darroch descendants, the curse of eternal wandering.

This is the story of one such time-walker cursed by the Sidhe.

Chapter One

Scotland, 1890

Lillian Desalles, the former Viscountess Broadville, had run away twice in her life.

The first instance occurred in New York when she was still Lily Rothmore, a headstrong American heiress who mistakenly thought she had some say in her life. At ten years old, she protested against the firing of her favorite drawing master by packing up the sweetbreads from teatime, dressing in a stolen groom’s livery and hiding out among the bushes in Central Park. No one had noticed her disappearance for hours, and by the time they did, her father was so furious to have his evening cigar interrupted, he’d retaliated by dismissing Lily’s governess and the groom.

Guilt plagued her after that incident, so Lily had tried to be a dutiful daughter, even going so far as to marry the Viscount Broadville, a man older than her father. The marriage had been a farce with an aging, impotent man left to consummate the union. But it left her with a modest parcel of land in the remote Highlands when the Viscount died a fortnight after they spoke their vows.

Lily now made the crumbling tower at Invergale the destination of her second attempt to run away.

She had no choice but to risk her father’s wrath this time, lest she find herself bound forever to another man who wanted only an alliance with her wealth.

“My lady? Shall I bring a lantern?” a worried voice called from the road where a lightweight carriage rested with her maids, a footman and a Highland guide she’d paid to show them the way to the lands. “Or perhaps we should return to the inn until someone can escort us properly?”

“No, thank you, Glenda.” The maid had been protesting this trip since they’d been five minutes outside of London. “I can see. There is a side entrance here.” Lily’s eyes had already adjusted to the moonlight.

Invergale loomed, a forbidding stone tower bracketed by two wings on either side and perched on Loch an Eilein. Any corners of the structure had worn away due to moss slowly devouring the ancient medieval stronghold. Arrow slits loomed like dark caverns in the facade, hinting at the keep’s days as a fortress. Cold wind whipped around what was left of crenellated parapets, creating an eerie whistle and wail, an unearthly warning to trespassers.

Or so it felt to Lily as she tugged at a vine over the side entrance, since the main doors had been curiously bolted from within. Shivering in the traveling cloak that covered her widow’s weeds, she took a step back to inspect her work and her foot sank in a soft spot along the bank of the loch. Frigid, murky water soaked her slipper and weighed down her skirt.

“For pity’s sake,” she murmured, plucking her toes from the muck. Apparently, the loch washed close to the castle walls here.


A noise from the forest made her pause. She peered over her shoulder toward a thick stand of trees in the opposite direction from where the carriage sat.

A shadow darted between the gnarled trunks of the rowan trees. A man. She could see broad shoulders in the moonlight.

Who trespassed here? Had she been followed? She had hoped her removal from London would put the matter of her marriage out of her father’s mind for a bit longer. Her heartbeat quickened as the shadow stood utterly still.

“Sir?” she called out, her lips gone dry with new fear.

“Lady Lily?” A gravelly voice sounded from her other side as her footman—Edward—approached the tower.

“I’m down here, Edward.” She stood on her toes for a better view. “Do you see that man?” She pointed toward the rowan trees and the outline of a man of considerable height and breadth.

“A man? Where?” Edward peered in the direction she indicated then glanced back to her. “Certainly not. It’s well past dusk and there are no villages nearby.”

How could he not discern the figure among the trees? Even in the moonlight, she could see the garb of an old Highland clan, like a warrior in one of her old nurse’s adventure tales.

“Does he not see us?” she wondered, hardly daring to breathe. “What if he is a purse thief?”

“Here, my lady? There are hardly any purses to be found.” Edward studied her face by the lantern light, the collar of his livery uncharacteristically soiled from the long journey. “I am more worried about you. This place is clearly not fit for your household.”

As she watched the shape in the rowan trees, the outline of the man seemed to become more distinct. Brighter, somehow.

“But surely now you can see—” Her breath caught at the width of the man’s shoulders. He seemed to glow like a vision—

A vision?

The glow faded again and the stranger disappeared in the darkness as if he’d never been there at all. Instead she was left with Edward staring at her, his gray brow furrowed. Dear heaven, had she imagined the warrior?

Perhaps her doomed marriage had inspired her fanciful mind to dream of a more interesting male option. For despite her status as a widow, she remained a maid untouched thanks to her husband’s advanced years and poor health.

“We are all worried about you,” Edward continued as if she hadn’t spoken. “The last weeks have been trying—”

“I’m sorry.” She turned her attention back to the doors to the old Scots stronghold, banishing thoughts of virile warriors. “I have led you on a long journey, but we will find our beds soon. I think Invergale will be very suitable with a bit of cleaning.

Her thoughts were scattered, thanks to the strange sighting. She would not mention the man again. She thought her servants were loyal to her, but she could not afford idle gossip about her character, either. Her father would use any leverage he could find to convince her to wed again.

“It is not too late to find shelter elsewhere,” Edward continued, brushing a few leaves from Lily’s shoulder. “There was an inn at the foothills of the mountains. I can-”

“Nay.” She shuddered, remembering the gossip and tea and utter boredom of London. At least in New York she’d had moments of unsupervised freedom. Once abroad, she’d been chaperoned within an inch of her life. “I am eager to see my new home. And I had no illusions we would live like royalty here.”

That was part of the allure of the Highlands. The adventure. The romance of the moors. But as the night wind moaned another eerie cry, the breeze wet with the water from the nearby loch, Lily had to admit she had not envisioned anything quite this rustic. Nor had she imagined brawny Highland men darting about the trees, just out of sight of her servants.

The memory made her shiver with an odd sort of longing even as she told herself she would do well to forget about her mysterious Highland warrior.

* * *

High above Invergale, on a mountainside he knew as well as his own face, Iain Darroch peered down at the keep that had been in his family since the twelfth century. A trail of tiny lights winked through the trees surrounding the tower, illuminating the overgrown path to the entrance.

The cheeky lass had let herself in.

Who the devil was she that she would dare to advance on his lands without his leave?

Urging his horse closer to the cliff face, he squinted through moonlight that turned the red hills to shades of gray. He had not thought much of the small traveling party when he’d seen the lightweight carriage struggling up a mountain road. The legends surrounding Invergale invited the curious, after all. But the young woman who alighted from the conveyance obviously wanted to do more than visit the place of legend.

She had wrestled with the doors of his tower stronghold like a raiding thief in petticoats. Worse still, the lass had seen him. That in itself would have made her unusual.

But taken with the fact that she took up residence within the walls of his fortress, Iain had an urgent need to discover everything there was to know about this lace-wrapped enemy.

Speaking softly to his horse, he guided the animal down toward Loch an Eilein, where his tower stood watch in the night. This trespasser would not be the first outsider he had driven off in his years as guardian to these lands. And although the thought of a woman in his bedchamber caused old ghosts to drift over his skin, Iain could not deny that he had a few ideas about how to unsettle a female guest.

He’d had so little company these past years. Would it be wrong of him to savor the chase for a few hours with this one intruder? After all, the woman could go on to a normal life somewhere else once she left the Highlands. For Iain Darroch, his lonely duty to watch over these lands would only continue.

Not just for another year or two.



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