Title: A Match for Marcus Cynster by Stephanie Laurens
Cynsters Series Book 23
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 448 pages
Duty compels her to turn her back on marriage. Fate drives him to protect her come what may. Then love takes a hand in this battle of yearning hearts, stubborn wills, and a match too powerful to deny. #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens returns to rugged Scotland with a dramatic tale of passionate desire and unwavering devotion.
Restless and impatient, Marcus Cynster waits for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies in the lands surrounding his family home, but what will his future be and with whom will he share it?
Of one fact he feels certain: his fated bride will not be Niniver Carrick. His elusive neighbor attracts him mightily, yet he feels compelled to protect her—even from himself. Fickle Fate, he’s sure, would never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his. The best he can do for them both is to avoid her.
Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. The epitome of fragile femininity, her delicate and ethereal exterior cloaks a stubborn will and an unflinching devotion to the people in her care. She accepts that she cannot risk marrying and losing her grip on the clan’s reins to an inevitably controlling husband. Unfortunately, many local men see her as their opportunity.
Soon, she’s forced to seek help to get rid of her unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus Cynster is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for assistance with her peculiar problem.
Although at first he resists, Marcus discovers that, contrary to his expectations, his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, to claim her hand. Yet in order to convince her to be his bride, they must plunge headlong into a journey full of challenges, unforeseen dangers, passion, and yearning, until Niniver grasps the essential truth—that she is indeed a match for Marcus Cynster.
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They hadn’t made it to that road yet, but at least they were moving in the right direction.
But then autumn had set in and winter had followed, and the snows and storms had kept everyone indoors. The pace of work naturally slowed to a crawl, and suddenly, the younger men who’d been kept busy all summer had time to think.
Too many had chosen to think about her.
Because she was still unwed.
What the dimwits failed to realize was that, as lady of a clan—especially a clan like the Carricks, especially given the straits the clan was in—marriage was not in her cards. She was the only remaining member of the original Carrick line, while the rest of the clan was composed of many families who, through the passage of generations, were now only distantly related by blood, yet they were held together by common purpose and cause and a common share in the clan estate. The clan had elected her to lead them for a very good reason—namely, that she was the only one all the clan families would agree to follow.
And that was the critical point. The clan followed her.
Any man offering for her hand would expect that he would be entitled through their marriage to assume leadership of the clan.
That wasn’t going to happen, because she would never allow it to happen. She’d been entrusted with the position of Lady, and it was incumbent on her to always act for the good of the clan—and the good of the clan meant her keeping ultimate control of all clan matters.
After all she’d seen of the weaknesses of men, she wouldn’t trust any man with the clan’s reins, and there wasn’t a man born—or at least not one she might consider marrying—who would agree to take second place to her.
She’d accepted her unmarried state as inevitable—more, as desirable, at least for her. She still had her vow to her father to fulfill, and she would never let that go.
Unfortunately, several men in the clan, her age or older and as yet unwed themselves, had decided to vie for her hand. She’d tried to make clear that her hand wasn’t on offer to be claimed, but none of them believed her. Others in the clan, wiser heads, understood, but not the younger hotheads who seemed to have convinced themselves that if they just pushed her harder—did something wilder—she’d develop a lasting tendre for them and gladly surrender her hand and the clan.
That afternoon, looking forward to a peaceful ride, she’d walked into the stable yard and had come upon Clement Boswell and Jed Canning violently wrestling in the middle of the yard. Over her. They’d been yelling insults at each other and taking liberties claiming various favors from her—favors she had never granted.
They hadn’t seen her in time to shut up.
She’d wanted nothing more than to knock their heads together, to knock some sense into them, but she was a slip of a thing against their tree-trunk forms. Instead, she’d lost her temper and had screeched at them to stop.
They had, eventually, but by then she’d felt like a harridan and a shrew.
She’d clambered onto Oswald’s back in a fury with all men.
Luckily, the horse was a gelding.
Sean ambled up on his black and drew rein. He sat his horse alongside her and didn’t say a word.
He and the other clan elders understood, but even they were unable to help her—not in this.
She needed a champion, someone to take her side, to do what, as a delicate and fragile-looking female, she was unable to accomplish—namely intimidating her would-be suitors into accepting the truth, respecting her station, and leaving her alone.
She couldn’t call on Norris. He’d settled in comfortably to a life as an assistant to a history professor, and had secured a position teaching students at St. Andrews. It was a new and promising start for him. Besides, he wasn’t…man enough, old enough, impressive enough for her needs. She needed a man willing and able to fight for her, to defend her position.
Oswald shifted beneath her. Instinctively settling him, her gaze sharpened on the vista before her.
If you ever need help, remember that you can always call…on me. If you are ever in need, please don’t hesitate—just ask…
It had been nearly two years, but she could still hear Marcus Cynster’s deep voice saying those words. She knew he’d meant them.
And she could no longer pretend that she didn’t need help. The sort of help he could give.
She’d avoided even seeing him for what still ranked as an excellent reason, yet if she was to do what her clan needed her to do…
Gathering her reins, she glanced at Sean. “Wait here. I won’t be long.”
With that, she tapped Oswald’s side and headed down the rise to call on her nemesis.
New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature ‘Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen” style.
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