03 November 2011

Excerpt Thursday: The Sinner by Margaret Mallory

This week on Excerpt Thursday, we're welcoming regular contributor Margaret Mallory, as she celebrates the release of THE SINNER, her second book in THE RETURN OF THE HIGHLANDERS series. It is available now. Join us Sunday, when Margaret will be here to talk about her novel and give away a signed copy!


Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can't prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

Alex MacDonald is known for his skill as a warrior, his prowess with women, and his vow to never take a wife. But now his chieftain has asked him to make the ultimate sacrifice: wed Glynis MacNeil, a lass famed throughout the Highlands for her exquisite beauty-and defiant ways.

Familiar with heartbreak, Glynis refuses to fall for another handsome scoundrel. Yet when Alex's past sins force an unlikely union, Glynis gives in to temptation and becomes his wife. Will their newfound passion be strong enough to fight the enemy that threatens their home, their clan, and their very lives? 

**An Excerpt from THE SINNER**'

“What were ye thinking, asking me to meet ye at this hour?” Alex said as he rammed the torch into the sconce on the wall.
“I’m glad ye came,” Glynis said.
“Ye gave me no choice,” he said. “I couldn’t have ye wandering around a castle full of warriors—half of them drunk— looking for me in the dark.”
Alex took a deep breath. He had wanted to say good-bye to her—and to explain about what she’d seen when she walked in on him and Catherine—but he didn’t have a lot of time.
“Why did ye want to see me?” he asked.
“When I talked with your friend Duncan this afternoon, he told me you’re going to Edinburgh.”
How had she’d gotten closemouthed Duncan to share their business with her?
“I want ye to take me with ye,” she said.
Alex could not have been more stunned if she’d sprouted fairy wings and flown over the pots and bags of grain in the storeroom. Just what was Glynis suggesting? His heart gave a big lurch as he considered the possibility that she might actually want to run off with him.
But it seemed so unlikely that he had to ask. “Why?”
“I’ve decided to live with my mother’s family in Edinburgh,” she said.
Alex waited for the relief he should feel upon learning that her request had nothing to do with him, but it didn’t come. A bad sign.
“Ye know verra well that I can’t just run off with ye across Scotland,” Alex said.
“Ye must,” she said, clenching her fists. “My da wants to marry me to Alain.”
Alex wanted to hit something. He didn’t have time for this, but he wanted to help her if he could. “Do ye know where your father is? I’ll speak with him.”
“Does my father strike ye as the sort of man who takes advice well?”
She had a point, but he said, “I can be verra persuasive.”
“So I’ve heard,” Glynis said with more than a touch of sarcasm. “But it will do no good. My father is too stubborn by half.”
As was his daughter. “Have ye considered a compromise with your father? Is there no man ye are willing to wed?”
Glynis gave her head a firm shake and folded her arms. “Ye said ye would be my friend.”
“Stealing a lass away from her father is no being a friend,” he said, though his words felt hollow. Her mother’s family could hardly do worse by her.
“Take me, Alexander Bàn MacDonald,” she said, her gray eyes turning to hard flint. “Or I’ll go tell the Maclean chieftain right now that I saw ye swiving his wife.”
“That wasn’t what it looked like!” Alex was so used to having committed whatever offense he was accused of that he hardly knew how to defend himself. “My clan needs ties to the Campbells, so I couldn’t offend her.”
“Ye sacrificed yourself for the sake of your clan, did ye?”
“I didn’t do what ye think,” Alex protested. “Though it wasn’t easy, mind ye.”
Judging from the grim line of her mouth, Glynis was not impressed with his forbearance.
“Catherine is close to her brothers,” he explained. “If you’ve forgotten, they are the Earl of Argyll and the Thane of Cawdor, so I had to be verra careful about how I told her nay.”
“It looked like ‘aye’ to me—your being naked and all.”
Ach, she was full of sarcasm tonight. Glynis took a step closer and tapped her finger against his chest. Despite the anger in her eyes, the point of her finger sent heat radiating through his body.
“How about I tell Shaggy Maclean what I saw and let him sort it out?” she asked.
God preserve him. If she went running to Shaggy with this tale now, none of the MacDonalds would escape tonight. Alex ran his hand through his hair. He could tie her up and leave her in the storeroom. But he didn’t like the idea of leaving Glynis helpless, not knowing how long she might lie here—or who might find her.
“If ye tell Shaggy, he’ll kill me,” Alex said, attempting to reason with her.
“It wouldn’t be my fault,” she said. “A man should pay for his sins.”
“Ye wouldn’t be that heartless,” he said, though Glynis was looking as if she damned well would. “And I’m telling ye, I didn’t sin with Catherine.”
Not this time, anyway.
“I’ll do what I must,” Glynis said with that stubborn look in her eyes. “There are hundreds of men here. My father won’t know it was you I left with, if that’s your concern.”
“The truth has a way of coming out.” Alex folded his arms across his chest. “Have ye thought of what your father will do if he finds out I’m the one who stole ye away? Angry as he would be, he’d demand a wedding.”
For the first time, Glynis looked uncertain. It grated on Alex that the possibility of being forced to wed him was the only part of her ridiculous plan that gave her pause.
“I’ll have to take the risk,” she said in a hard voice. “Now, do I go bang on Shaggy’s bedchamber door, or will ye take me?”
See Margaret's slide show for readers of photos from castles and settings that appear in THE SINNER here, then click on “show info” on the upper right for descriptions. Enjoy!


Pamala Knight said...

Lovely excerpt! I'm anxious to read the rest. Thanks for posting.

Margaret Mallory said...

Thank you for having me as a guest today, UH Authors!

Pamela, I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. :)

Jane said...

Congrats on the new release, Margaret. Can't wait to read "The Sinner."

Margaret Mallory said...

Thx for the congrats, Jane! Hope you love THE SINNER.


Jen B. said...

Highlanders! Thanks for the info about the book. I'll be back on Sunday to enter the giveaway.

J. R. Tomlin said...

I'm sorry. Harsh, but I HATE this kind of cliche stuff set in my beloved Highlands. A "Warrior" what does that MEAN anyway?

A knight perchance? Or do you mean a cataran? Good lord. They were not some kind of barbarians, thank you very much.

Please, for historical fiction do research and skip the horrible faux Scots dialect. Scots is difficult to do and sticking in random dialectical spellings rather than correct Scots is horrendous.

I admit there is a market for this stuff but it is at best NOT historical.

Carrie Lofty said...

JR, I must take exception to your comment. First of all, Unusual Historicals was not conceived to celebrate "historical fiction," because there already exists such variety of subject, era, and location in that genre. Historical romance is bound by a much stricter set of conventions, placing those books set in unusual times and places well on the fringe. On occasion we've featured historical fiction authors, but often their stories contain significant romance plots. So your reference "for historical fiction" seems out of place, because the two genres conform to very different standards and reader expectations.

Margaret has won and been nominated for an exceptional number of awards in the historical romance industry. What she actually produces may offend you on a historical level, but there's no denying that her interpretation of Scottish history appeals to a huge number of people. What is wrong with satisfying those readers' desire for the sweeping, romantic majesty of the Highlands when told in such a way? Don't they have a right to read what appeals to them? That love and fascination may actually propel them to learn more, which is what I've heard over and over from my own fans. From Austria to Spain to South Africa, they want to learn more.

I don't think it's fair to cast aspersions on Margaret's research based on a single excerpt. Your reference to "my beloved Highlands" shows a possessive fondness for a time and place that you do not exclusively own. As for WARRIOR, very few NY authors are permitted to choose their own titles. Editorial and marketing staff have the final say. If you blame the author for a title that seems inaccurate, you're often blaming the wrong person.

I will be up front and admit that not only is Margaret a friend of mine, but we share the same agent. That said, her books are incredible and emotionally rich. Perhaps you've made a snap judgment based on one excerpt? And I can certainly understand your frustration with what can be a dreck-ridden sub-genre of historical romance. Regency historians, too, probably tear their hair out in frustration over the tremendous liberties taken with that era.

Most such historical romance authors pride themselves on accurate research. They work incredibly hard at getting the facts right, and would not pursue that sub-genre without a love of research. That, on occasion, editorial and reader expectations must temper those facts means the difference between a book that won't sell and books that have done as well as Margaret's. Feel free to judge us accordingly.

Finally, I founded Unusual Historicals in 2006 with the philosophy that "a high tide lifts all boats." Good publicity created by any unusual historical author advances the cause of all others--even if you don't agree with that author's vision. As I understand it, you are scheduled as a guest author later in the year. Your work will be supported with the same enthusiasm and support as Margaret's.

Yours sincerely,

Carrie Lofty
Founder, Unusual Historicals

CarrieLofty.com | Ellen Connor.com
FLAWLESS ~ Pocket Books, Available now
DAYBREAK ~ Berkley, Dec 6

Margaret Mallory said...

My characters are Highlanders in 1515 and would be speaking GAELIC, not Scots.

Any author who writes dialogue in English for a Gaelic-speaking character is employing fiction from the get go. Rather than write their dialogue in Gaelic, I use a few words and phrases that are meant to give readers a sense of time and place.

In my earlier series, which is set in the early 1400's, I did not write my characters' dialogue in Chaucer's English because that would make reading slow-going indeed.

My books are fiction and story comes first. I do try very hard to get the history right, though I occasionally change a date or other detail to suit my story. I include a historical note at the back of my books where I explain this and give some additional historical information, which, judging from my mail, a lot of readers enjoy.

Sorry to go into writer technique here. I'd much rather talk about my characters & story. :)

Marilyn Brant said...

What a wonderful excerpt, Margaret, I truly enjoyed it!! Loved being in Alex's point of view for this scene, and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next ;).

Margaret Mallory said...

Thanks, Marilyn! Glad you enjoyed the excerpt. It may sounds strange, but I love writing from the hero's point of view. :)


Sarah Hoss said...

I really enjoyed the piece. Thanks for posting it Margaret and thanks for hosting her Carrie!!!!

Marcia James said...

Congratulations on the release of The Sinner! I look forward to reading it, since I have thoroughly enjoyed your other books. ;-) It's obvious why you've won awards. Your stories draw in the reader and your characters are memorable.

And thank you, Carrie, for your words. I agree that Margaret writes historical romances, not historical fiction -- novels that can be found on many a reader's Keeper shelf.

It's so sad when an author trashes another one. Bad karma. Thank goodness the publishing community is, for the most part, a caring and supportive one.

Margaret Mallory said...

Thanks for your comments, Sarah & Marcia! Hope you enjoy THE SINNER. I had a good time with this hero. ;)

Margaret Mallory said...
This comment has been removed by the author.