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A Match for Marcus Cynster
by Stephanie Laurens
Series: Cynsters #23
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: May 26th, 2015
Format: Paperback/eBook, 448 pages
Marcus Cynster is waiting for Fate to come calling. He knows his destiny lies near his home in Scotland, but what will it be? Who is his fated bride? One fact seems certain: His future won’t lie with Niniver Carrick, a young lady who attracts him mightily and whom he feels compelled to protect—even from himself. Fate, he’s sure, will never be so kind as to decree that Niniver should be his.
Delicate and ethereal, Niniver has vowed to return her clan to prosperity. Having accepted that she can never marry and risk a controlling husband, she needs help fending off unwelcome suitors. Powerful and dangerous, Marcus is perfect for the task. Suppressing her wariness over tangling with a gentleman who so excites her passions, she appeals to him for aid.
Marcus quickly discovers his fated role is to stand by Niniver’s side and, ultimately, 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.
Laurens’ sprawling series spans multiple generations and families with no end in sight, but with distinctive, engaging storylines and the ever fascinating and uniquely authentic Cynsters, why stop?
March 1850; nearly a year later
The Carrick Estate, Dumfries and Galloway
The thunderous pounding of Oswald’s heavy hoofs, the bunch and release of the horse’s powerful muscles, filled her mind—and pushed out the frustrations that had threatened to overwhelm her. While she raced over the fields, she had no room in her head to dwell on the irritations, annoyances, petty nuisances, and simply idiotic behavior that had provoked her to near-fury.
What were they thinking? Were they even thinking? Or were they simply reacting to a situation they didn’t know how to interpret?
She’d ridden east from the manor, over the flatter fields, wanting—needing—to gallop. But the clan’s lands ended at the highway. Ahead, beyond the edge of the fields, the ribbon of macadam glimmered. Normally, she would have slowed at that point, drawn rein, and come around.
Crouching low, she let Oswald thunder on.
Because today she needed more than just exercise. Today, she needed something akin to an exorcism—before she lost her temper and blasted her importunate clansmen in a way that would shrivel their manly confidence forever.
Giving Oswald his head, she let the gelding jump the stone wall that marked the boundary of the Carrick estate. Two giant strides later, the horse gathered himself again and flew over the drystone wall on the other side of the road.
Niniver heard a shout from behind her—from Sean, who, as always, was tagging along as her groom—but she pretended not to hear and let Oswald race on toward what had in years past been their favorite valley for a gallop. The horse remembered, as did she, but she hadn’t ridden that way since Marcus Cynster had bought the old Hennessy property and made it his.
Usually, she avoided any chance of meeting her neighbor anywhere, much less on his lands.
But not today. Today, her clansmen had pushed her too far. She needed this run, and truly, the chances of meeting Marcus in the narrow valley were slight. She would race to the end, then turn and race back, and he would never know she’d been there.
The long, narrow valley curved and wound deep into the old Hennessy estate. Sinking into the moment, she let herself become one with her horse and galloped wild and free.
But when she reached the rise at the end of the valley, Oswald was tiring. Deeming it wise to let the horse rest before heading back to the manor, she eased up, and let the gelding slowly climb the rise. There was a twisted tree at the top, its canopy casting sufficient shade to provide a pleasant spot out of the afternoon sunshine.
She’d barely noticed the sun was shining until then. With her very pale skin, she had to be wary of freckling, and she wasn’t wearing a hat.
Drawing rein in the shade, she remembered that the vantage point allowed her to look down on the old Hennessy farmhouse. Built of faded red bricks with lintels of local stone, the solid house sat nestled comfortably on a shelf of land, with the usual outbuildings neatly arrayed around it. Thin streams of smoke rose from two of the many stone chimneys.
She’d heard that Marcus had renamed the house and estate Bidealeigh.
Her eyes drinking in the peaceful scene, she eased the reins and let Oswald idly crop the coarse grass while she waited for Sean to catch up. He wouldn’t say anything when he did; he knew what had sent her off in such a temper.
She’d been the Lady of Clan Carrick for almost a year. The first months of her reign, over late spring and through last summer up until harvest time, had been intensely busy, not just for her but for all the clan as she and the clan elders uncovered and came to terms with the depredations her brothers had visited on the estate. When she and Ferguson had first sat down with the estate’s ledgers, she’d wondered what all the fuss—all the worry—had been for. Then she’d stumbled on the second set of accounts—the ones Nolan had kept hidden. The ones that had shown the true level of the clan’s coffers and also testified to the parlous state of the clan’s enterprises.
That had been a sobering time, but under her leadership, the clan elders had rallied, and, together, they’d devised and put into place a plan to resurrect the clan’s finances, one designed to get the clan back on its financial feet and heading toward the road to prosperity.