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Authors: The Warrior

Claire Delacroix

The Warrior

Claire Delacroix

 

Dear Reader

Alluring and dangerous, the Hawk of Inverfyre came to rest at my father’s house, his motives unknown. His seduction was breathtaking. I resisted him, this enigmatic warrior, but his kiss transported me to a time and place where his relentless pursuit and my passionate surrender made perfect sense.

’Twas then I erred. My defenses harried, I was tricked into marriage by the Hawk and taken by force to his lawless castle. I have vowed to flee: The grounds abound with rogues and whores, and the servants whisper of murdered wives. And yet, his dizzying touch hints that we have lived here before—he as the castle’s intrepid founder and I as his betrayed lover.

Am I the bride who will break the spell of Inverfyre? Or have I been captured by a scheming sorcerer, only to be ravished and discarded like so many before?

— Lady Aileen of Abernye

Praise for
The Warrior

“Delacroix’s satisfying tale leaves the reader hungry for the next offering.”

~ Booklist


The Warrior
is a sensual romance that has found a place on my keeper shelf, to be revisited again and again.
The Warrior
is in my top five reads of the year and the Hawk is my number one favorite hero.”

~ Romance Junkies

“Filled with rich history and vivid imagery, this love story is one of those a reader remembers long after finishing it... A beautiful love story, a definite recommend!”

~ loveromances.com


The Warrior
is one more gem in the crown of this queen of medieval romance.”

~ Rendezvous

“I was totally enthralled with the romance aspect of the story, the magnificent imagery and the cleverness of the plot... A fabulous read, exciting and sensually delightful!”

~ HistoricalRomanceWriters.com

“Full of adventure, intrigue, likable characters and an exciting romance,
The Warrior
is medieval romance at its best... Ms. Delacroix has penned another engrossing, impossible-to-put-down tale, a Perfect 10. Don’t miss it!”

~ Romance Reviews Today

“Ms. Delacroix has saved the best for last in her final book of this trilogy... Michael is the consummate hero and Aileen his perfect mate. The writing and characterization are exemplary. A great read!”

~ The Old Book Barn Gazette

“A delightful Scottish medieval romance... Historical romance readers will enjoy this fabulous novel that provides a terrific end to a strong series.”

~ The Midwest Book Review

“A classic historical love story, told with equal parts sweetness, passion and intrigue...
The Warrior
is a definite must-read addition to any bookshelf.”

~ Romance Readers Connection

“Gripping, entertaining and unforgettable,
The Warrior
is a wonderfully complex historical tale of a Scottish romance.”

~ Bookloons

Best Book of the Year 2004 – Historical Romance:

Medieval and Elizabethan to Pre-Georgian ~ Romance Reviews Today

 

The Warrior

This re-release has had only minor corrections from the original text. It is essentially the same as the original print edition, although there are minor variations.

Copyright 2004, 2011 Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Published by Deborah A. Cooke

All Rights Reserved.

Cover by
Kim Killion
.

Digital Design by
A Thirsty Mind
, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-9879548-8-6

Digital Edition

Excerpt from
The Beauty Bride

Copyright 2005, 2011 Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Excerpt from
Once Upon a Kiss

Copyright 1998, 2011 Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Without limiting the rights under copyright preserved above, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright holder and the publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Dear Reader
;

The Warrior
was a book that captured my heart from the first moment that the Hawk and Aileen’s story came to me. I love reincarnation romances, and I particularly enjoy a skeptical hero who learns to believe in things he can’t see. The hero of this book, the Hawk, is both pragmatic and practical, while his partner, Aileen, is the daughter of a woman who was psychic but deemed to be mad. I had a wonderful time writing their story and watching love heal their respective wounds.

This story is the third book in my Rogues of Ravensmuir series, each of which features a strong hero. As with all of my re-releases, I’ve chosen not to revise this book, but to republish it essentially as it was published in the first place. All three of the Rogues of Ravensmuir medieval romances are now available in both new digital editions and new print editions like this one. The linked series, The Jewels of Kinfairlie, is already available in new print editions. You can learn more on my
website
.

I’ve also returned to Kinfairlie and Ravensmuir in my books and am happily writing medieval romance again. My new series, The True Love Brides, picks up the story from my Jewels of Kinfairlie series, following four more of the siblings at Kinfairlie as they meet their romantic matches and find their happily-ever-afters.
The Renegade’s Heart
is Isabella’s story and is available now in both a print and digital edition.
The Highlander's Curse
, which is Annelise's story, will be an April 2013 release. Visit my
website
for more information about this series and other upcoming releases.

I was delighted to revisit Merlyn, Gawain and the Hawk, and hope that you enjoy reading their stories as much as I loved writing them.

Until next time, I hope you are well and have plenty of good books to read.

All my best,

Claire

http://www.delacroix.net/

Prologue

Inverfyre, Scotland

November 1390

H
is father had been right.

Every step Michael took into the forests of Scotland made it more impossible to evade the astonishing truth. He had always assumed that his father’s tales of Scotland had been whimsy, heavily embellished with a nostalgia that his mother would find appealing. Gawain Lammergeier was not above stretching the truth, especially when his tall tales prompted Evangeline’s laughter.

But all of those tales had been true. The land was so beautiful as to leave Michael breathless and it could be as mercilessly cruel as a beauteous woman with a heart of ice. What he had not expected was his growing sense that these lands were not quite earthly. He might have stepped into the domain of the fey. Michael was uneasy with this awareness, for he had never heeded such tales and knew not what the rules of this land might be.

There had been frost this morning when his company awakened, and all the trees were etched with silver filigree so fine as to rival the work of a master jeweler. The sky was a blue so bright as to hurt one’s gaze, but the shadows in the forest yielded their secrets to none. Michael surveyed his surroundings constantly as they rode, unable to dissuade himself of the conviction that they were being watched.

And not by mortal eyes.

Certainly not by friendly eyes.

He urged the party onward, fighting to ignore the oppressive feeling that the forest disapproved of his intrusion. He was the seventh son of Magnus Armstrong, the heir of Inverfyre, the warrior destined to fulfill an old prophecy, and the son of the greatest thief in Christendom besides.

Fortune would not dare deny him his due.

Or so he told himself.

At least, Michael was not alone. Tarsuinn had been invited to join this journey, his half-sister Rosamunde had not, but they both rode behind him all the same. (He knew that he should have anticipated that Rosamunde would have her way.) Sebastien and Fernando, two good friends from Sicily who had proclaimed themselves in dire need of an adventure, accompanied him, as well. A dozen stalwart men from his father’s household and ship comprised the rest of the group that had sailed north.

Michael might have stolen his father’s vessel—a feat he did not doubt his father savored—but he was not fool enough to embark on a quest without information. He had commanded the crew to drop anchor at the Lammergeier stronghold of Ravensmuir to seek the counsel of his uncle, Merlyn. But Merlyn and his wife Ysabella had been away—in lieu of Merlyn’s counsel, Michael’s cousins Tynan and Roland had insisted upon accompanying the party to Inverfyre, along with their trio of squires.

The company comprised more than twenty in all, but the sound of their passing was almost naught. The young squires had ceased their chattering as soon as the shadow of the woods closed around them. By the time Stirling had fallen into the forgotten distance, none of them dared to make so much as a whistle.

Just the day before, Michael would have counted it a blessing if Rosamunde and Tynan could have ceased their bickering over every inconsequential detail. On this day, he had the urge to provoke them, if only to hear mortal voices at normal volume. He felt that they trod close to a sleeping demon whom they dared not awaken.

Yet not all slumbered, for something surveyed their progress. Michael halted suddenly and knew without glancing back that the rest of his party stopped behind him. Stillness settled on all sides, the shadows seemed impenetrable, the cold of pending winter chilled his marrow. The forest breathed on all sides, watching, waiting.

He shivered involuntarily and his heart quailed. It seemed suddenly to be tremendous folly that had brought him here, that he could never accomplish his objective, that he had made a fatal error.

Nonsense! He would not be defeated by silence!

“Are there wolves in these woods?” Michael demanded of his cousin.

Tynan shrugged. “There are wolves in all the forests of Christendom. They are not more numerous here.”

“Are they more malicious?” Rosamunde asked as she eased her steed closer to the pair.

Tynan snorted. “Have you amiable wolves in the south?”

Rosamunde lifted her chin and glared at her cousin. “Are they especially vicious in this barbaric land?”

“All predators are vicious, particularly those willing to prey upon men.” Tynan turned to scan the forest, excluding Rosamunde with his manner.

Michael did not miss the hot glance his half-sister cast at their inattentive cousin.

Rosamunde was a willful beauty, unused to any man showing disinterest in her charms. Michael and Rosamunde were of an age, but Tynan was some eight years their senior. Further, he was tall and dark and given to dismissing Rosamunde in a manner she clearly did not appreciate.

“What observes our progress, then?” Michael asked.

Tynan smiled. “I could tell you a thousand tales of ghosts and specters, each and every one of them purportedly true. One seldom feels alone in our woods, though I never have felt another presence so strongly.”

It was on Michael’s lips to ask how close they were to Inverfyre, but a cloaked figure stepped out of the forest ahead of them and silenced his query before it was uttered.

He saw her and he knew, he knew with unwavering certainty that he stood already upon his hereditary holding.

But how could he be so certain? They had passed no boundary marker, indeed they were not even upon the road.

He blinked and looked again at this unexpected figure. Indeed, he could not have said that this soul truly stepped from anywhere—it was more that the figure had appeared where it had not been before. He might have thought that he imagined its presence, but Rosamunde whispered a prayer and crossed herself. Tynan lifted a hand to stay him, suddenly as watchful and silent as a predator himself. Roland caught his breath, as if he bit back a warning.

Michael understood then that they, too, felt the uncanny power of this stranger.

“Do you shirk what you cannot see, heir of Magnus Armstrong?” the figure shouted, her voice revealing her gender. “Or is the blood of Magnus’ lineage so diminished that his heir has not the boldness of a babe?”

Tarsuinn gasped. “God in heaven, it cannot be.”

“Who is she?” Michael demanded.

“An old crone of the woods. I thought her dead years past.” Tarsuinn peered at the distant figure, shaking his head as he marveled. “But it is she. This one was of aid to your parents once, though she is unpredictable. I advise caution, his lord.” He eased his steed forward and raised his voice. “Adaira? Do you yet occupy these woods?”

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