Blurb: Lady Alanna McNabb is bound by duty to her family, who insist she must marry a gentleman of wealth and title. When she meets the man of her dreams, she knows it's much too late, but her heart is no longer hers.
Laird Iain MacGillivray is on his way to propose to another woman when he discovers Alanna half-frozen in the snow and barely alive. She isn't his to love, yet she's everything he's ever wanted.
As Christmas comes closer, the snow thickens, and the magic grows stronger. Alanna and Iain must choose between desire and duty, love and obligation.
But it's Christmas in the Highlands, and there are bound to be a few surprises.
Craigleith Moor, nineteen days before Christmas
How dreadful it was to freeze to death on the day before your own wedding.
Alanna McNabb looked around her and realized she was lost. Worse, a storm had suddenly blown in. Less than an hour ago—or was it two? —the sky had been clear, if gray as lead, and she’d been walking through hills dusted with the barest hint of snow, like a wedding cake delicately sprinkled with powdered sugar. Then wind and snow had tumbled over the lip of the mountains with remarkable ferocity, blotting out the earth and the sky and descending upon Alanna like a malicious ruffian bent on mischief.
The gale tore her bonnet off and tossed it away, slapped her cheeks raw, and twisted her cloak around her legs, making it almost impossible to walk, even as it drove her onward.
Landmarks disappeared behind a thick white curtain, and she felt the first thin edge of fear. This was supposed to be a short stroll in the hills, a chance to think, to let the brisk wind clear her mind and allow her to come to terms with tomorrow’s events. Back at Dundrummie Castle, her wedding gown—pale blue—hung ready in her dressing room. The cooks were in a flurry, baking cakes and pies for the wedding breakfast. Her mother was preening in her mirror, putting the finishing touches on her own dress for the event, and her groom, the Marquess of Merridew, was on his way.
He would arrive at Dundrummie Castle this very afternoon, and she must be there to greet him. She looked around again at the blank white world. Would he worry if she was late? She drew a breath, felt the wind snatch it from her lungs, freeze it upon her lips, and knew she was going to be very late indeed. He might be irritated at the delay, or angry, or afraid. She had no idea how her fiancé would react, since she barely knew him. She turned, and the wind turned with her, spinning in a circle around her, binding her, refusing to let her escape. Surely if she retraced her steps, went back the way she’d come, she’d be home before anyone knew she was gone. But which way was it?
The snow was so white it hurt her eyes. The frigid air froze in her nose and throat. She had no idea which direction she was going.
Her mother would worry, once she got over her annoyance with her middle daughter for going out in the first place. Aunt Eleanor would pace the floor, her walking stick thumping the flagstones as she waited for Alanna to return. Her youngest sister would imagine the worst—as if there was worse that could be imagined. Her family would whisper that Alanna was not one for impetuous behavior, which made disappearance all the more shocking.
Her brother Alec and his wife, as well as her her older sister, Megan, would not be attending Alanna’s wedding. They’d have no idea she was lost. She doubted Alec even knew about the hastily planned wedding, and her sister was in England, equally oblivious, newly married herself. Alanna felt the lack of Megan’s company keenly, but if Megan had stayed—well, there was no point in dwelling on that. What was done was done, and Megan, at least, was happy. Deliriously so.
One of them might as well be.
Author Info: Lecia Cornwall lives and writes in Calgary, Canada, amid the beautiful foothills of the Canadian Rockies, with four cats, two teenagers, a crazy chocolate Lab, and one very patient husband. She is hard at work on her next books.