On October 20, 1164, a motley force of Gaelic and Norse warriors sailed up the River Clyde and engaged the royal army in what became known as the Battle of Renfrew.
Jules, you ask, why should I care about a 12th century battle in a land far, far away?
Well, dear reader, you should care because the leader of those Gaelic-Norse forces was Somerled of Argyll, the world’s second most common ancestor, and on February 11th, he’ll live again.
Let’s just carve that in runes, shall we?
On February 11th,
Somerled. Lives. Again.
That’s when Soul Mate Publishing will release my novel, SCENT OF THE SOUL. The book features—you guessed it—the Big Daddy of all Daddy Macs, Somerled of Argyll.
SCENT OF THE SOUL opens just after Somerled has expelled the Vikings from his rightful lands. He’s united the clans, and he’s a marriage away from adding the Isle of Man to his expanding area of influence.
Pretty bad time to meet his soul mate, isn’t it?
Breagha is running from a being who covets her supernatural scenting ability. He must have it—and her—for his breeding program. With her four giant dogs, she races for Iona, a sacred island off-limits to the dark warriors chasing her. She’s nearly there when she’s plucked from the shoreline and brought before Somerled of Argyll for disposition. She recognizes his scent—an impossibility, since the two have never met, and they share an intense attraction. She begs him to allow her to go to Iona, or at the very least, to stay in Finlaggan, but Somerled has already promised her to Fergus of Galloway, a rival king whose fresh alliance he can’t afford to lose.
Somerled needs time to sort out Breagha’s fate, but time is the one thing he doesn’t have. Black clouds are rolling in from the north, and it’s about to rain pure evil.
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Her lips turned up in a smirk just as he heard growls behind him. He did not need to turn to know that her dogs crouched behind him, the largest at the lead, ready to lunge with a word from her.
“Lassie,” he seethed, with a trembling hold on his sword, “it’ll take more than a few dogs to put me down. I’ll get one by the throat and shove it up another’s arse.”
“Pfft.” She rolled her eyes.
“Back them off or I swear to Saint Columba and Jaysus Himself, I’ll hand ye a pile of guts.” Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Maguire’s man creeping toward them, sword drawn. He raised a palm, and Maguire’s man halted.
Breagha’s body shook; the knuckles of her balled fists turned white. She muttered something to the dogs in a language Somerled did not know, and the growling ceased. The largest dog trotted past with his hackles standing on end. He sniffed the base of the stone, urinated on it, and bounded off into the brush with his mates.
“Ye could have had them kill me.”
“Aye.” She brushed a dried leaf from her tunic sleeve, as if it was more important than anything he might say to her.
He took a step toward her. “Ye want me around yet.” He smiled. “Is it because ye love me?”
“Oh aye,” she said. “Do ye even know what love is?”
“I might.” He wanted to sprint past the stone, up onto the road, and run until he reached the jetty. Instead, he whispered, “Ye interest me, woman, with all your madness and your wicked temper, and your dogs that could tear my throat out, and—”
“Ha!” She lunged at him and shoved against his chest. He didn’t budge, and her ineffectiveness set her to screaming. “Ye left my bed and climbed onto the widow Mersin!”
“Wha? How— No, Breagha, ye see—” He quickly sheathed his sword, took a step toward her, and grabbed her wrist.
She writhed like an eel on a cooking stone. “Let go of me! My wrist still hurts.”
“Breagha, listen,” he pleaded, trying to snag the hand flailing at him. “Let me explain.” She caught him on the cheek with a sting that surprised him. His patience was lost, his blood boiled to pudding. “Listen, lassie, I am the King of Argyll, and I may bed whomever I choose.”
She nearly pulled him off balance with her squirming. He grunted, wrestled her to the stone, and slammed her against it, pinning her arms at her sides. A squeak seeped through her lips. She sagged against him and sobbed.
Jaysus, the stone is rough. It had to hurt. What have ye done? She is but a lassie. He released her arms. She wilted into him and he held her, pressing her forehead against his chest. His fingers spread over the back of her skull, inspecting it for signs that he had cracked it open. Finding no injury, he stroked the back of her head. Her headcovering, knocked loose in the scuffle, fell to the ground, freeing her hair. He held her then, strangely remembering an injured songbird his mother once cupped in her hands.
“What do ye do to me, woman?” he whispered. He kissed the top of her head. “What do ye do to me?”