Avant de croiser le regard de Malcolm Mackenzie, l’avenir de lady Mary Lennox était tout tracé : elle serait sous peu l’épouse modèle d’un comte anglais, allié politique de son père. Jeune fille obéissante, elle sait qu’elle ne peut se soustraire à ce devoir. Pourtant, les yeux pétillants, le sourire taquin et la tignasse rousse du Highlander lui font soudain miroiter une vie plus exaltante. Cet homme la désire et il n’est pas du genre à se plier aux interdits. Mais, lorsque l’armée jacobite de Charles Stuart s’empare d’Édimbourg, Mary sent que son destin bascule en même temps que celui de l’Écosse.
Malcolm Mackenzie knows the moment he sees Lady Mary Lennox, daughter of an English earl, that she is the one for him. The trouble is, Highland clans are rising to join Charles Stuart, who has landed in Scotland and headed for Edinburgh where Mary’s family is currently residing. Not only that, Mary’s father is in thick with the English government, and certainly doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near a Highland barbarian. Plus, Lady Mary is already engaged to another.
Malcolm, who considers himself neither Jacobite nor loyalist, wants only to build up his business, avoid the uncertain tempers of his father and oldest brother, and win the hand of the beautiful and lively Mary. He makes plans to sweep her away to his castle north of Inverness, but his four interfering brothers and father, not to mention this annoying uprising, keep getting in the way.
Mary Lennox believes she’s happy. She is fine with going through with her arranged marriage to please her father, at the same time helping her sister to find romance.
That is, until she sees Malcolm Mackenzie, youngest of the Duke of Kilmorgan’s five sons, lounging like a lazy wolf in the middle of a proper English soiree. It isn’t only his kilt that makes him different from her English acquaintances in Scotland, but his predatory air, his golden eyes, and his casual arrogance.
Soon she finds herself under the scrutiny of this man, and of his entire Highland family. Her ideas of duty and happiness splinter and fall away, as Malcolm makes her face the truth about herself and her life.
The dark winds of change, however, are flowing around Malcolm and Mary. Scotland is drawn inexorably into the battle between the Jacobites and the armies sent by the English government to crush the rebellion. Scots fight Scots, loyalties shift, and Malcolm finds himself plunged into a fight he didn’t want, one that will change his life and the Highlands of Scotland forever.
Les Mackenzie, Tome 8 : L'Appel des Highlands
** Extrait offert par Jennifer Ashley **
The cold dampness of Edinburgh woke Mal out of his stupor as they moved down the narrow street to another equally narrow passage.
A discreet bawdy house was tucked here. Its proprietor had sent a boy running to the tavern in search of Will Mackenzie’s brothers.
Mal understood why when they reached the place, Jeremy in tow. Shouting came from the upper reaches of the house, the rooms accessed by a rickety staircase that led to a leaning wooden gallery.
A deep voice was carrying on in Highland Scots, admonishing, demanding, then lapsing into cajoling, laughter, and singing. The songs were the same as Alec’s but much, much louder.
The proprietress of the house, a thin woman with an angular face, was from Glasgow. Mal could usually understand only about two words in six she said, but tonight she was very clear.
“Get him out.” She glared at Mal and Alec. “He’ll bring the constables down on us if he does no’ shut up and go away.”
“Easy, love,” Mal said. “We’ll take him. Alec, pay the good lady for her trouble.”
Alec shot an annoyed look at Mal, but his pouch of coins came out and silver found its way into the proprietress’s hand.
The woman looked less unhappy but remained planted by the foot of the staircase, as though ready to shove them out at a moment’s notice.
Mal tipped her a wink as he followed Alec up the stairs, Jeremy trailing behind. The tall lad looked around with much interest, indicating louder than words that he’d never been in a whorehouse before. The English whelp was too innocent to be believed.
“She were a fiiiiine lassie,” came the booming baritone. “With a bosom so sweet, and bum so large, and between her legs a . . . laaaaaad.”
“Is that a song?” Jeremy asked, his face red but his eyes sparkling with humor.
“He makes up his own,” Mal said. “Young Master Jeremy, meet my brother, the rakehell himself, William Ferdinand Mackenzie.”
Alec had crashed through the bolted door at the top of the stairs to reveal Will, clad in nothing but a plaid wrapped around his hips, standing on strong feet, serenading two tired-looking women who lounged on the bed. It was evident that they’d had enough of him.
Will turned blearily as they burst in. “Mal!” he shouted. “How fine to see ye, runt!” He spread his muscled arms and rushed at Mal, crushing him into a hug.
Will was the tallest of the Mackenzies, the biggest and broadest, a giant of a man with dark red hair. Being embraced by him was like being squashed by a bear. Will was as warm as a bear too, and about as hairy and smelly in his unkempt state. He must have been there for days.
Will lifted his head and looked past Mal at Alec. “Angus!” He shouted. “Won’t hug you. You’re a bastard. I only love the runt.”
“I’m Alec,” Alec said, sounding less drunk. “Angus is at home.”
“Good!” Will pounded Mal on the back then released him. “He’s not here to spoil our fun. Who is that?” Will scrubbed both massive hands through his unruly hair, which made it stand straight up, and pinned Jeremy with a tawny stare. “Are you a Mackenzie, lad?”
“’Fraid not,” Jeremy returned. He only looked slightly alarmed, which meant the boy had mettle. Will Mackenzie undressed and roaring drunk was not an easy thing to take.
“The Honorable Jeremy Drake, sir,” Jeremy said. He executed a practiced though wobbly bow.
“He’s a bloody Englishman!” Will rubbed his eyes and stared at him again. “What are ye doing with a bloody Sassenach, Mal? Did he arrest you?”
“He’s a friend,” Mal said. “My friend. Dress yourself, man. We’re going.”
“So soon?” Will looked confused. “But I’ve only just started the singing.”
Alec took a comfortable seat on the bed, giving the ladies there a smile and also a few coins for putting up with his brother. “And you’re in good voice,” Alec said, soothing him. “We’ll be off, and you can sing to us.”
Will gave him a doubtful look. “Well, all right, but you’re nae so pretty.”
“I’m glad of it,” Alec said. “Mal, get him decently clad . . . Och, man, I did nae need to see that!”
Will had stripped off the plaid and let it fall, revealing his hard-muscled thighs and the large thing dangling between his legs.
Alec covered his face and moaned. Mal ignored him while he fished up Will’s clothes from all over the room and helped the big man put them on. Jeremy watched, still flushed with drink, but enjoying the comedy.
Will got stuck inside his shirt, his arms flailing, unable to find the holes. Mal helped him, got the shirt settled and the plaid wrapped about his waist again. Waistcoat, stockings, boots, frock coat—all went on—then Will had to spend at least fifteen minutes looking for his hat.
They discovered that the proprietress had it. When Mal and Alec finally shoved Will out of the bedroom and to the staircase, Jeremy trailing, the proprietress held up a battered Scots bonnet. Will had to be helped down the stairs—his legs kept bending every which way.
Will reached the bottom at last and grabbed the hat from the woman’s thin hand. “Thank you very much,” he slurred. “Ye have a fine establishment. Until next time.”
He tried to bow and fell into Mal’s arms. Mal pushed him to his feet, hearing the clink of more coins as Alec placated the woman once again. Jeremy grabbed Will’s other arm and assisted Mal in squeezing his brother through the narrow door and out into the cold cobbles.
Will threw off their holds as chill night air poured over them. “I’m fine. I can walk meself.”
He couldn’t, very well. The four of them stumbled down the passage and to a larger street.
“Where are we going?” Will asked at his usual bellow. “Another nice house?”
“Home,” Alec said sternly. He looked at Jeremy. “Best you nip off to your own digs, lad. If Will gets us arrested, ye don’t want to be with us.”
Jeremy glanced at Mal, and Mal gave a reluctant nod. He liked Jeremy, but it was time to part ways for the night.
“Aye, go on.” He locked his fingers around Jeremy’s sleeve and pulled him aside. “I can call on you tomorrow, eh? So we can begin. I’ll help you win the hand of young Audrey, and in return, you slip me in to see Mary. Right?”
“Yes.” Jeremy’s eyes warmed with his smile. He clasped Mal’s hand with a firm grip of his own. “You’re a gentleman, Mackenzie, even if you’re a Highlander.”
“Aye, don’t I know it.” Mal clapped him on the shoulder and shoved him away.
Jeremy tipped his hat to Alec and Will, and turned and walked away into the darkness. His footsteps were uneven, his gait slightly swaying, but he’d be all right.
“Now, then, Mal, help me.” Alec scowled and bent to the task of getting Will indoors.
By the time they reached the house the Mackenzies lived in during their excursions to Edinburgh, Will was walking better on his own. A footman opened the front door of the house and assisted them inside; a second footman scurried down the back stairs to alert the rest of the staff that the Mackenzie brothers were home.
Will had lost most of his drunkenness by the time they reached his large bedchamber upstairs. Will let the rail-thin, red-haired valet who’d appeared—Naughton, who looked after them all when they were in the city—pull off his boots, then Will collapsed full-length onto the bed.
Naughton took the soiled boots away, as well as the frock coat Will had thrown off, frowning in disapproval at the mud on both. As soon as the door closed, Will sat up, the disoriented light leaving his eyes.
“Well, lads,” he said.
Mal found a stool by the fire and stretched his feet to it. He hated being cold.
Only a few candles were lit in the chamber, and the dim and wavering light cast weird shadows. Alec’s straggling hair was thrown into huge silhouette against the fireplace.
“Well?” Alec prompted.
“I heard quite a lot to tell Father,” Will said. He looked pleased with himself. “A few of Cope’s men were in that house.” Sir John Cope was the English general unlucky enough to command the British troops in Scotland. He was expected to deal with Charles Stuart—Teàrlach Stiùbhart—and his Highlanders if they made their way toward Edinburgh. “They tried to ply me with questions, find out who was with Teàrlach and who wasn’t, but alas for them, I could barely think, let alone speak, eh? Won’t be able to go back there if it’s full of loyalists, though, I’m thinking. Pity. It was a good house.”
“You mean the ladies there would put up with ye,” Alec said with good humor. “As long as ye paid them well.”
“Enough from you, whelp. What have you got to say?”
“Plenty,” Alec said. “But not about the Jacobites. Mal thinks he’s smitten with an English lass. Daughter of Wilfort, no less.”
Will pinned Mal with a fierce gaze. “Are ye mad, runt? Wilfort is at King Geordie’s elbow.”
“Not his daughter’s fault,” Mal said. “Mary’s a lovely lass, and better company than you lot.”
“Watch it, lad.” Will sat all the way up, his laughter gone. “I’ve seen what happens to you when you want a woman. When ye want anything, actually. You pursue it beyond reason.”
“Only when it’s worth it.” Mal folded his arms, looking back into the fire. Mary’s hair was the color of the hottest part of flame.
Alec’s shadow moved as he and Will exchanged a glance.
“This time ’tis dangerous,” Alec said quietly. “What with Duncan hot to drag Charles Stuart to the throne and Da denying that with every breath, this is nae a good time to be near anything English. Ye deflower the daughter of the Earl of Wilfort, he’ll come after ye with half the army and have your head on a spit. Leave her be, Mal.”
The part of Mal that was his common sense told him his brothers were right. Mary wasn’t a barmaid or a young Scottish lass he could woo without compunction.
Mary’s father had power, wealth, and influence—he could destroy Mal and all the Mackenzies with him. Mal had no doubt that his own father, to keep his standing as Duke of Kilmorgan, would happily throw Mal to the wolves in order to placate the English bastards.
The other part of Mal—the part of him that let nothing stand in the way of what he wanted—knew he couldn’t let Mary go.
Something had happened when he’d seen her, like a sudden completion of himself. As though he’d been walking alone most his life, and all at once knew he’d never be alone again.
This knowledge had intensified when Malcolm had touched her, had closed his fingers over the warm lock of her hair. Two parts of a single whole had met, briefly contacted, and had been pulled apart again.
Mal would spend the rest of his life if necessary to put those two halves together again.
He realized his brothers were watching him, waiting for him to reassure them. He couldn’t. Mal could only look at them, willing them to understand.
Will and Alec exchanged glances again, this time resigned. They knew exactly what happened when Mal took something into his head.
It warmed Mal that they ceased trying to stop him. They were making a silent pact to watch over him, and keep their little brother as safe as they possibly could, no matter what.
Mary knew exactly when Malcolm Mackenzie walked into the salon. She had her back to the door, her fingers plucking out an even tune on the harpsichord, but she knew.
The very air seemed to vibrate, to warm. The sound of his low voice confirmed his presence and sent a shiver down her back.
Mary’s hands faltered. She missed a few notes, then more notes, which made Aunt Danae glance at her in concern.
Mary never made mistakes at the harpsichord. She learned every piece perfectly, note for note. Her music master despaired that she put absolutely no passion into the music, but Aunt Danae said that didn’t matter—most of the people Mary would play for had no emotional response to music anyway and would only hear her technique.
But now Aunt Danae blinked as Mary skipped an entire page and stumbled the piece to the end. Her audience applauded dutifully, then put their heads together to criticize her in whispers. The need of people to constantly critique others puzzled her, but it was part of her world.
Mary left the stool, saying she needed air.
Aunt Danae caught her elbow. “All you all right, my dear? I knew this crush was a mistake. Lady Bancroft always overdoes. Ah, here is Master Jeremy, come to make it all bearable. And his . . . friend?”
The last was directed at Malcolm, who was dressed as he’d been last night, in formal frock coat over kilt, his smile wide, his tawny eyes sparkling.
Jeremy was with him, as though they were old acquaintances. Jeremy introduced Malcolm, and Mal held out his gloved hand toward Mary.
Je ne suis pas fan des histoires ou on reprend l’histoire des parents des différents personnages principaux des autres tomes. Je trouve que ça ne m’apporte rien à la saga. Ici c’est le cas. L’histoire des parents MacKenzie n’apporte rien. Juste la rencontre entre les deux parents sur une période historique qui à marquer l’écosse et l’Angleterre au XVIIIe siècle. Je ne retiendrais que la partie historique de ce livre.
Une aventure rocambolesque qui ne manque pas de charme, mais qui m'apparaît hautement improbable tant les faits sont contradictoires ou impossibles.
L'auteur fait encore une fois appel à des raccourcis grossiers et ce manque de crédibilité plombe l'ensemble.
Néanmoins, le couple est sympathique et la détermination de Malcom louable.
Alors même si beaucoup de choses semblent irréalisables, la persévérance du héros nous tient en haleine.
Pour autant, dans ce tome finalement, l'auteur contredit l'histoire servie depuis le debut sur le passé des Mackenzie.
En bref, une histoire et des protagonistes attachants mais qui est pavée de contradictions, de contre-vérités, d'improbabilités et d'illogismes.
Malgré tout, j'ai beaucoup aimé, il y avait plusieurs bons moments. Mais dans certains chapitres, je ne retrouvais pas la verve et la passion de l'auteure. J'ai quand même lu le livre très rapidement.
Je n'ai vraiment pas apprécié le tome ... Je suis tellement déçue, je m'attendais a tellement mieux, je ne comprend pas pourquoi je n'ai pas accroché mais j'espère que le suivant sera mieux
Je l'ai dévoré !!! Que ça fait du bien de retrouver les Mackenzie !!!
Ceci n'est pas sans rappeler Outlander... Du coup on se sent en terrain connu et les batailles Jacobites n'ont plus de secret ! Néanmoins j'ai passé un bon moment avec ces Highlanders et la demoiselle Anglaise !
Ce préquel est particulièrement intéressant dans les genre A&P. Déjà par rapport au contexte historique, il est extrêmement détaillé et précis. On sens l'investissement de l'auteure une fois de plus dans ses recherches. Et ensuite l'alternance des points de vue entre le camp des anglais et celui des Jacobites.
Ici il est question de Malcolm dans ses jeunes années bien avant qu'il ne soit l'un des grands ancêtres du Duché de Kilmorgan, Malcolm l'ancien.
Partisan d'une grande Écosse, il ne souhaite pas entrer dans les affres de la politique et prendre partie soit pour les anglais, soit pour les jacobites. Il veut que chacun puisse vivre en toute tranquillité sans rendre de compte à aucune royauté. Déterminé pour ne pas dire têtu quand il entreprend un projet rien ne l'empêche de le mener à bout.
Lors d'une soirée, il aperçoit Mary Lennox et tombe littéralement sous son charme. Après ça, il décide qu'elle sera son épouse.
Mais comme rien n'est facile dans la vie, Mary est déjà promise à un lord anglais. Commence alors un lent jeu de séduction et tous les coups sont permis.
Elle ne reste pas insensible au charme du fougueux écossais mais son rang de lady ainsi que son destin sont déjà tout tracés sans possibilité de changement.
Les relations devenant tendues puis houleuses et finalement conflictuelles entre les jacobites et les anglais, ils se retrouvent pris entre 2 feux n'ayant aucune envie de prendre partie.
Cette romance commence très lentement à la limite du rythme de croisière pour devenir au fur et à mesure haletante. Malcolm mettra tout en œuvre pour maintenir la sureté du clan et de ses gens. Mary fait les frais d'une vieille coutume en se faisant enlever mais elle découvre ainsi la véritable vie des Highlands. C'est un aspect intéressant sur la prise de conscience des préjugés établis par la haute société anglaise.
C'est un roman très agréable, avec de nombreux personnages très typiques de l'époque et représentatifs des diverses opinions qu'on pourrait avoir sur l'époque. L'auteure plante un décor plus vrai que nature et on est complètement immergé dans ces temps troubles de l'histoire écossaise.
Une saga à lire ou à relire dans son intégralité. Mais ce tome reste au dessus des autres car Malcolm reste un élément fort et lien permanent à travers les âges.
assez différent des autres tomes. On recule d'un siècle environ pour suivre la révolte jacobite à laquelle sont mêlés les MacKenzie. Beaucoup d'aspects historiques.
Je ne sais pas si l'auteur compte nous en dire plus sur la famille de cette époque ; il y a 5 frères et de nombreux personnages secondaires esquissés, mais on ne sait pas grand chose sur chacun d'eux, c'est dommage. Peut-être par la suite?
Un très bon 8ème tome qui revient aux origines de la famille MacKenzie et qui nous livre de beaux moments d'émotions et de passions, parsemés que quelques drames.
Une belle histoire sur fond de révolte jacobite avec des héros attachants. J'ai eu plaisir à découvrir l'histoire de cette famille particulière et à me plonger dans les charmes de l'Ecosse.
Magnifique, sublime et addictif !
Cette histoire est un préquel et nous plonge dans la vie de l'ancêtre des MacKenzie : Malcom en pleine récolte jacobite.
Ce bel highlander m'a beaucoup plu par son charisme, son humour, son côté attachant et séducteur.
Mary quand à elle n'est pas en reste, effacée dès les premières pages elle révèle sa personnalité de "feu" (pour reprendre le terme de Malcom) au fur et à mesure de l'histoire. Elle est attachante et forte et pas du tout minorée comme dans certains livres de ce type.
La romance Malcom/Mary est belle et tellement ponctuée d'embûche (contexte historique : la révolte jacobite) qu'elle en devient haletante et addictive tout en restant sensuelle.
Les personnages secondaires ne sont pas en reste que ce soit les frères de Malcom, son père ou même les anglais.
J'ai vraiment passé un très bon moment de lecture. Les pages se tournent tout de seules. J'ai hâte que le prochain tome paraisse car la série les MacKenzie est formidable et c'est incontestable !
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