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Authors: Arnette Lamb

True Heart

PRAISE FOR
NEW YORK TIMES
BESTSELLING AUTHOR ARNETTE LAMB'S

BEGUILED

The Second Thrilling Novel in the Clan MacKenzie Trilogy

“Arnette Lamb beguiles her readers with this latest installment in the MacKenzie saga. This delightfully fast-paced, sensual romance has it all. Sit back and savor.”

—Kathe Robin,
Romantic Times

“[A] well-crafted historical romance. . . . This witty book . . . offers a fresh twist for fans of Lamb's romances.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Arnette simply gets better with each effort;
Beguiled
may be her best yet. Agnes and Edward and the others are quickly ‘taken to our hearts,' so that we care deeply about the outcome of their adventures.”

—Merry Cutler, Annie's Book Stop

“Agnes is a true heroine with many strengths, but her tender side is most endearing. . . .
Beguiled
is filled with warmth and unusual plot lines. . . . [A] unique blend of action and exceptional characters make this a book above and beyond.”

—Rendezvous

“Just what we would expect from Arnette. . . . Be prepared to read into the wee hours with
Beguiled;
it's one you won't put down.”

—Bell, Book and Candle

“A unique premise, a fearless heroine, and a persistent hero are complemented by lively dialogue, beautifully managed sexual tension, and a batch of unusual secondary characters. . . . [A] swift-moving, involving story. . . . Lamb['s] fans will be waiting for this.”

—Library Journal

BETRAYED

The First Enchanting Novel in the Clan MacKenzie Trilogy

“A terrific book. . . . Delightful. . . . A wow of a read.”

—Merry Cutler, Annie's Book Stop

“A wonderful, witty story. Sarah and Michael will capture your heart. . . . If this first book [of the Clan MacKenzie trilogy] is an indication of what's to come, we are all very lucky readers!”

—Patti Herwick,
The Paperback Forum

“Betrayed
is a delightful example of Ms. Lamb's wonderful writing style. The dialogue is razor sharp and sassy, the characters are lively and entertaining, and the story holds your interest from start to finish. I can't wait to read about the next MacKenzie sister.”

—Rendezvous

“Arnette Lamb captures the era with fine strokes and rich colors.
Betrayed
is a truly charming romance brimming with familial love and romantic sentiment.”

—Kathe Robin,
Romantic Times

“Arnette Lamb's
Betrayed
is fantastic! Five bells! She's got herself a real winner.”

—Donita Lawrence, Bell, Book and Candle

“Arnette Lamb just gets better and better.”

—Denise Smith, Aunt Dee's Book Bag

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For Ron Dinn,
who is my own True Heart and the love of my life

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Marie Sproull and Millie Criswell for sharing their knowledge of tidewater Virginia and for trusting me with their research books.

Thanks also to Pat Stech. I'd list the reasons, Pat, but they'd fill a book.

Prologue

Rosshaven Castle

Tain, Scottish Highlands

Spring 1779

“You didn't for a moment think I believed you asked me into the stables to show me a new horse.”

Even after all these years, Juliet brought out the rogue in Lachian. He took her hand and pressed her palm against his cheek. “What I have in mind is infinitely more entertaining than a foal.”

Her interest engaged, she lifted her brows. Her fingers traced his mouth. “Which is why you brought me to the loft.”

Her familiar scent softened the robust aroma of freshly mown hay. Her touch did more earthy things to his sense of decorum. “Why I brought you up here is a surprise.”

“I see.” She licked her lips. “You
intended
to wrinkle my dress and muss my hair?”

“Aye. The first before I ravished you, the second
while
I ravished you.”

Always the grand skeptic, she said, “A husband cannot ravish his own wife . . . unless . . .”

She had more to say, but she'd make him wait. His patient and practical Juliet had helped Lachian raise Agnes, Sarah, Lottie, and Mary. But respect and love for his four bastard daughters only scratched the surface of her fine qualities. She'd given him four more daughters and an heir. He loved Juliet more today than when she'd placed his son in his arms. At sunrise next, he'd love her more still.

Talking with her was a gift he'd forever cherish. Touching her was a pleasure he couldn't deny himself now that they were alone. “In the event you've lost the essence of the conversation, my love, you were holding forth on the issue of whether a husband may ravish his wife.”

“True. But the word
holding
distracts me.” She glided her hand down over the placket of his breeches and made a carnal image of the ordinary word. “Will you hold forth on why there is a satin pillow beneath the hay?” She flicked her gaze to the spot where roof met wall.

Lachian chuckled. “If you hope to tease me with conversational detours, you'll go wanting for that. Not even a bolster of gold could distract me at the moment.”

Her supple fingers began an arresting rhythm, and her voice softened to an enticing purr. “Pondering two things at once is surely manageable for a man of your considerable resources.”

Desire thrummed in his chest and rang in his ears. “As I did when you interrupted my civic duties to show me Mary's painting of Lottie, barefoot and astride a draft horse?”

“Lottie was beyond mortification over it. You were more interested in what our good sheriff Neville Smithson had to say about tariffs. But this is different.” She put that thought to action.

Excitement quivered in his belly. On a shallow breath, he said, “You, on the other hand, are not completely captivated.”

With her free hand, she cupped his neck and pulled him closer. “I've been captivated since the winter of '68.”

The occasion of her entry into Lachian's life and the genesis of his true happiness. For hours he'd anticipated this time alone with her. Their eldest and his first child with Juliet, ten-year-old Virginia was betrothed this very day to Cameron Cunningham, a lad they favored. Their youngest, Kenneth, would one day foster with Cameron's parents, Suisan and Myles. Lachian's elder daughters were seventeen years old and planning their own futures.

Lottie would wed David Smithson later this year. Sensible Sarah had begun to tutor the children of Tain. Mary planned to move to London to apprentice with the artist, Joshua Reynolds. Agnes was busy breaking every rule of society. Lily, Rowena, and Cora were still in the nursery with their three-year-old brother.

For now, time alone with Juliet was a luxury to Lachian, but in a few years he'd have her all to himself. This afternoon's tryst was a rarity he intended to savor. Teasing her was a part of their love game.

He plucked a straw from her hair. “But coherent thought is ever your constant companion, nay?”

“Not always.”

“Let's see about that.” Gaze fixed to hers, he kissed her. Her brown eyes glittered with pleasure, and desire smoldered in their depths. A sense of belonging swamped him, and as he deepened the kiss, he wondered for the thousandth time what goodly deed he'd done to deserve this woman. With a sweetness that always thrilled him, she returned his ardor and heightened it with her own.

In the distance he heard the happy sound of childish laughter. Juliet heard it too, but that was the way of mothering with her. Even in the crowd at Midsummer Fair she could discern the voices of her own children.

Lachian broke the kiss. “Which of our brood is so joyous? Cora?” He spoke of their youngest daughter.

“Kenneth. Agnes must be tickling him.”

“I'll be glad when his voice changes. Let's hope that occurs before Lottie's wedding, else I'll have him strewing rose petals instead of bearing the wedding band.”

“He squealed with laughter today when he saw Virginia's betrothal ring.”

“Do you think they are too close?”

“I think Cameron and Virginia have a special need for each other.”

Lachian couldn't deny that a deep bond existed between his daughter and his fosterling.

“Put any doubts from your mind, Lachian. Cameron and Virginia are perfect for each other.”

“Aye, as perfect a pair as Lottie and David.”

“Will you rejoice when Agnes flies the nest?”

“Aye and nay. But 'tis dear Sarah I worry over more.”

“Sarah's too sensible to choose a poor husband. I'll wager my new carriage that you'll grieve when Virginia weds.”

His first daughter with Juliet was unlike any of his other children. Outspoken and adventurous, Virginia had been strongly influenced by her four older sisters. From Lottie she'd learned grace and stitchery. At Mary's hand Virginia had perfected stubbornness and an artist's skill. From Sarah she'd gained a love for books and philosophy. From Agnes she'd learned too much cunning and bravery.

Cameron had been Virginia's special friend since she'd spoken her first word. He'd taught her to string a bow. He'd looked after her when everyone else was too busy. Five years hence, he'd become her husband. Lachian felt a pang of loss at the thought of giving Virginia to another, even if Cameron was both perfect for her and the man of her choice.

“Now who's distracted?” Juliet teased.

Lachian pressed her back into the soft hay. She winced and shifted.

“Uncomfortable?” he asked.

She gave him a look of tried patience. “No. But a pillow would be nice.”

That mysterious pillow again. An odd jealousy stabbed him. He couldn't own her every thought, never would, but independence was also a part of her allure. Now she was curious about the pillow and wouldn't leave the subject alone. He reached for the item in question and held it so they could both inspect it.

Embroidered in golden thread were a halo and the words We love you, Papa.

Juliet said, “Only Lottie's stitches are so finely done.”

Lachian eased the pillow beneath her head. The shiny embroidery thread paled beside the glow of Juliet's fine complexion. “Never will I understand the female mind.”

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