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Highland Velvet [Anglais] [Poche]

Jude Deveraux

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Chapter One


Bronwyn MacArran stood at the window of the English manor house, looking down at the courtyard below. The mullioned window was open against the warm summer sun. She leaned forward slightly to catch a whiff of fresh air. As she did so, one of the soldiers below grinned up at her suggestively.

She stepped back quickly, grabbed the window, and slammed it shut. She turned away angrily.

"The English pigs!" Bronwyn cursed under her breath. Her voice was soft, full of the heather and mist of the Highlands.

Heavy footsteps sounded outside her door, and she caught her breath, then released it when they went past. She was a prisoner, held captive on England's northernmost border by men she'd always hated, men who now smiled and winked at her as if they were intimate with her most private thoughts.

She walked to a small table in the center of the oak-paneled room. She clutched the edge of it, letting the wood cut into her palms. She'd do anything to keep those men from seeing how she felt inside. The English were her enemies. She'd seen them kill her father, his three chieftains. She'd seen her brother driven nearly insane with his futile attempts to repay the English in their own kind. And all her life she'd helped feed and clothe the members of her clan after the English had destroyed their crops and burned their houses.

A month ago the English had taken her prisoner. Bronwyn smiled in memory of the wounds she and her men had inflicted upon the English soldiers. Later four of them had died.

But in the end she was taken, by the order of the English Henry VII. The man said he wanted peace and therefore would name an Englishman as chief of Clan MacArran. He thought he could do this by marrying one of his knights to Bronwyn.

She smiled at the ignorance of the English king. She was chief of Clan MacArran, and no man would take her power away. The stupid king thought her men would follow a foreigner, an Englishman, rather than their own chief because she was a woman. How little Henry knew of the Scots!

She turned suddenly as Rab growled. He was an Irish wolfhound, the largest dog in the world, rangy, strong, hair like soft steel. Her father had given her the dog four years ago when Jamie'd returned from a trip to Ireland. Jamie had meant to have the dog trained as his daughter's guardian, but there was no need. Rab and Bronwyn took to each other immediately, and Rab had often shown that he'd give his life for his beloved mistress.

Bronwyn's muscles relaxed when Rab's growl stopped -- only a friend produced such a reaction. She looked up expectantly.

It was Morag who entered. Morag was a short, gnarled old woman, looking more like a dark burl of wood than a human being. Her eyes were like black glass, sparkling, penetrating, seeing more of a person than what was on the surface. She used her lithe little body to advantage, often slipping unnoticed amid people, her eyes and ears open.

Morag moved silently across the room and opened the window.

"Well?" Bronwyn demanded impatiently.

"I saw ye slam the window. They laughed and said they'd take over the weddin' night ye'd be missin'."

Bronwyn turned away from the old woman.

"Ye give them too much to speak of. Ye should hold yer head high and ignore them. They're only Englishmen, while ye're a MacArran."

Bronwyn whirled. "I don't need anyone to tell me how to act," she snapped. Rab, aware of his mistress's distress, came to stand beside her. She buried her fingers in his fur.

Morag smiled at her, then watched as the girt moved toward the window seat. She had been placed in Morag's arms when Bronwyn was still wet from her birth. Morag had held the tiny bairn as she watched the mother die. It'd been Morag who'd found a wet nurse for the girl, who'd given her the name of her Welsh grandmother, and who'd cared for her until she was six and her father'd taken over.

It was with pride that Morag looked at her charge now nearly twenty years old. Bronwyn was tall, taller than most men and as straight and supple as a reed. She didn't cover her hair like the Englishwoman, but let it flow down her back in a rich cascade. It was raven-black and so thick and heavy it was a wonder her slender neck could support the weight. She wore a satin dress in the English style. It was the color of the cream from the Highland cattle. The square neck was low and tight, showing Bronwyn's firm young breasts to advantage. It fit like skin to her small waist, then belled out in rich folds. Embroidery entwined with thin gold strands edged both the neck and the waist and fell in an intricate waterfall down the skirt.

"Do I meet your approval?" Bronwyn asked sharply, still irritated over their quarrel about the English attire. She bad preferred Highland clothes, but Morag persuaded her to wear English garb, telling her to give the enemy no reason to laugh at her in what they referred to as "barbaric dress."

Morag chuckled dryly. "I was thinkin' it was a shame no man would be takin' that gown from ye tonight."

"An Englishman!" Bronwyn hissed. "Do you forget that so soon? Has the red of my father's blood faded before your eyes?"

"Ye know it hasn't," Morag said quietly.

Bronwyn sat down heavily on the window seat, the satin of the dress flowing about her. She ran her finger along the heavy embroidery. The dress had cost her a great deal, money that could have been spent on her clan. But she knew they would not have wanted to be shamed before the Englishmen, so she bought dresses that would have been the pride of any queen.

Only this gown was to have been her wedding dress.

She plucked violently at a piece of gold thread.

"Here!" Morag commanded. "Don't destroy the dress because ye're mad at one Englishman. Perhaps the man had a reason to be late and miss his own weddin'."

Bronwyn stood up quickly, causing Rab to move protectively to her side. "What do I care if the man never appears? I hope he had his throat cut and lies rotting in some ditch."

Morag shrugged. "They'll only find ye a new husband, so what does it matter if this one dies or not? The sooner ye have yer English husband, the sooner we can go back to the Highlands."

"It's easy for you to say!" Bronwyn snapped. "It's not you who must wed him and...and..."

Morag's little black eyes danced. "And bed him? Is that what's worryin' ye? I'd gladly trade with ye if I could. Think this Stephen Montgomery would notice 'twere I to slip into his bed?"

"What do I know of Stephen Montgomery except that he has no more respect for me than to leave me waiting in my wedding dress? You say the men laugh at me. The man who is to be my husband holds me up for their ridicule." She squinted at the door. "Were he to come through there now, I'd gladly take a knife to him."

Morag smiled. Jamie MacArran would have been proud of his daughter. Even when she was still held prisoner she kept her pride and her spirit. Now she held her chin high, her eyes flashing with daggers of crystal-blue ice.

Bronwyn was startlingly beautiful. Her hair was as black as a moonless midnight in the Scots mountains, her eyes as deep blue as the water of a sunlit loch. The contrast was arresting. It wasn't unusual for people, especially men, to be struck speechless the first time they saw her. Her lashes were thick and dark, her skin fine and creamy. Her lips of dark red were set above her father's chin, strong, square on the tip, and slightly cleft.

"They'll think ye're a coward if ye hide in this room. What Scot is afraid of the smirks of an Englishman?"

Bronwyn stiffened her back and looked down at the cream-colored gown. When she'd dressed that morning, she thought to be wed in the dress. Now it was hours past time for the marriage ceremony, and her bridegroom had not shown himself, nor had he sent any message of excuse or apology.

"Help me unfasten this thing," Bronwyn said. The gown would have to be kept fresh until she did marry. If not today, then at another time. And perhaps to another man. The thought made her smile.

"What are ye plannin'?" Morag asked, her hands at the back of Bronwyn's dress. "Ye've a look of the cat that got the cream."

"You ask too many questions. Fetch me that green brocade gown. The Englishmen may think I'm a bride in tears at being snubbed, but they'll soon find the Scots are made of sterner stuff."

Even though she was a prisoner and had been for over a month, Bronwyn was allowed the freedom of Sir Thomas Crichton's manor. She could walk about the house and, with an escort, on the grounds. The estate was heavily guarded, watched constantly. King Henry had told Bronwyn's clan that if a rescue attempt were made, she would be executed. No harm would come to her, but he meant to put an Englishman in the chiefship. The clan had recently seen the death of Jamie MacArran as well as of his three chieftains. The Scots retreated to watch their new laird held captive and planned what they'd do when the king's men dared to try to command them.

Bronwyn slowly descended the stairs to the hall below. She knew her clansmen waited patiently just outside the grounds, hiding in the forest on the constantly turbulent border between England and Scotland.

For herself she did not care if she died rather than accept the English dog she was to marry, but her death would cause strife within the clan. Jamie MacArran had designated his daughter as his successor, and she was to have married one of the chieftains who had died with her father. If Bronwyn were to die without issue, there would no doubt be a bloody battle over who would be the next laird.

"I always knew the Montgomerys were smart men," laughed a man standing a few feet from Bronwyn. A thick tapestry hid her from his view. "Look at the way the eldest married that Revedoune heiress. He'd hardly got out of his marriage bed when her father was killed and he inherited the earldom."

"And now Stephen is following in his brother's footsteps. Not...

Présentation de l'éditeur

Bronwyn MacArran was a proud Scot. Stephen Montgomery was one of the hated English.
He came to Scotland as a conqueror, saw her beauty and was vanquished. But still she would abhor him.
She owned a temper hot enough to forge the armors of battle or inflame a valiant soldier's passion. Yet still she would resist him.
She became his reason to live, his reason to love. And still she would deny him.
But while clan fought clan, while brother took up sword against brother, and the highlands ran with blood -- their destiny was made...and this mighty warrior pledged himself to his woman's pride, her honor and her name -- and made of their love a torch to burn through the ages!

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Couverture | Copyright | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 4.1 étoiles sur 5  108 commentaires
96 internautes sur 99 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 ORDER of the books in the Velvet Series 13 juillet 2000
Par Chicago - Publié sur Amazon.com
Since there seems to be a lot of confusion as to the order of this series, I will try ot be helpful. The series is ordered in terms of the 4 Montgomery brothers' birth order:
#1 Velvet Promise - Eldest Gavin Montgomery marries Judith but his ex-lover tries to steal him back. A bit grim for my taste.
#2 Highland Velvet - Stephan Montgomery is given Scottish Bronwyn McArran for a wife. She hates him cos he's English ... but not for long! A couple of rolls int he heather - lots of fun.
#3 Velvet Song - Raine Montgomery the gentlest of the brothers gets a new squire, a young lad whom Raine, to his horror, finds himself wanting to kiss. Its Alyx and they make beautiful music together.
#4 Velvet Angel - Miles Montgomery is the dark brooding playboy of the lot, irrisitable to all women except Elizabeth Chatworth, whose family has a feud with the Montgomeries (this happens throughout the series). She looks like an angel but behave like a hell cat.
Hope this is helpful. Its a great series.
32 internautes sur 32 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 My absolute Favorite!! 19 février 2002
Par Psboston7 - Publié sur Amazon.com
NOW THIS....Is what Historical Romance used to be. Read "Velvet Promise" first so that you know what is going on. I actually read this one first and then found "Velvet Promise" and I read the series when it first came out in the 80's. I miss the old days of romance where it sweeps you into another world and you get lost in the time I remember visualizing Bronwyn's hair and eyes the first time Stephan saw her, I remember feeling a ache in my stomache when Stephan says the words "You will be the Death of Me, Bronwyn" (sigh)
I can see how some readers of today would not like this sort of writing style but for me who discovered Historical romances through Jude Deveraux and Johanna Lindsay I applaud them still. This one will always remain in my "keeper" pile no matter how old I get.
Happy Reading
14 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Second book in the Velvet series...Excellent! Fiery! WOW! 21 octobre 2001
Par Tracy Talley - Publié sur Amazon.com
I was told by a few people that I might not like this installment of the Velvet books, but on the contrary, I absolutely LOVED LOVED it! The heroine's strong character and stubborness captivated me! I loved her spririt! I in no way saw Stephen Montgomery as weak in this story! He was a man truly and madly in love with a stubborn and willful woman who has held past hatreds deep in her heart and finds it difficult to trust anyone English.
Soon after Stephen's summons to marry a Scottish Laird named Bronwyn MacArran by King Henry, he invisions a horrible woman with claws and an ugliness so fierce she would scare him just by looking his way, what he encounters is a much, much different vison worth fighting for...clear blue eyes and hair the color of midnight...so breathtaking she makes him forget who he is.
Bronwyn is not under ANY circumstances a weak woman or meek in any form. She is the leader of a powerful clan. She fears nothing and no one, even her most hated enemy, the MacGregors. She will not bend to the will of any man, including some English sop like Stephen Montgomery. She too is shocked by his handsome face and seemingly sweet personality, but she must not be fooled into thinking he is anything other than a murdering Englishman, the same race that murdered her father and her men from the clan not too long ago. She only agrees to marry him in order to save bloodshed amoung her people and the English, but she will never become a loving wife to the horrible Englishman even though he makes her knees weak and her skin tingle when he looks her way with his devilish smile.
A battle of wills begins, more fierce than that of the battle raging between the two clans fueding. Can Bronwyn prove to herself and her clan that she is a worthy laird? Will Stephen gain the trust and admiration of her clan? Will he abandon his English ways for her? Does he love her? Can she love him enough to look past his race?
A truly touching love story of a will so strong that it takes a very determined and strong man to show Bronwyn that not all men are alike and that he loves her with all his heart. He will give up his life and identity for her, just to see her smile for him. I could not help but love Stephen and I truly loved Bronwyn. A very realistic view of how the Scots felt towards the English and how a woman laird with so much hate can try and overcome her misgivings.
The story is filled with history, action, adventure, villians, love and even humor! For example, one of the funniest parts in the book was when Bronwyn tried to stop Stephen from getting involved in the clans quarrels and said to him, "He hates the English more than I do!" and he responds, "That's impossible." Stephen proves worthy of any Scotswoman and even to become a noble and fierce Scotsman. I highly recommend this book, even with some of the bad reviews it has recieved. I simply loved it and could not help myself! Very hard to put down! If you love very very strong willed heroines and men who will not give up them for the world, then you will like this book! It was also nice to meet up with the other brothers, Gavin and Raine and Miles. We meet up with Judith also,Gavin's wife, from the first book, VELVET PROMISE. I think I have to admit, this might very well become my favorite of the series, but we'll see, I need to start the third book now about Raine called VELVET SONG and finish with the last story about Miles called VELVET ANGEL. You can't help but love the Montgomery men! Especially Stephen! Wow! (VELVET PROMISE, HIGHLAND VELVET, VELVET SONG & VELVET ANGEL)
Tracy Talley~@
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Why Hate on the Heroine? 18 mars 2005
Par Windsinger - Publié sur Amazon.com
Most of the reviews on this book seem to target-locked on distasteful hatred for the heroine, Bronwyn MacArran. I'd like to address and de-bunk some of that, if I may: I loved her.

First off, maybe it's just me. But in a romance novel, I TOTALLY loathe the saccharine, fluffy, weak-willed, Disney type of heroine that say, Barbara Cartland is famous for. (The kind....that speaks...in a shy...whisper...with ...an ellipsis...after every third...word. **BLARF***, Babs!!!! You milked that archetype for what, over a hundred books?)

With that in mind, Bronwyn was a real breath of fresh air. Those who villify her, really don't seem to understand her well. She's not one-dimensionally ugly or full of hate, and she's not meant to be.

If you'll look a bit beneath the surface, she's not iron-clad, but genuinely terrified of showing tenderness. She's been conditioned from an early age to be a leader---not to show a sign of weakness, to her clan and especially not to Englishmen. She worshipped her father, and he got slaughtered. Her three prospective suitors (ALL of whom she seemed to have some degree of feeling for!) got massacred. She adored her brother, and he repaid her with contempt and treachery. The only things safe TO love, were her clan, and her guard-dog. Everything else had better darned well stay at arm's length!!!

All of this, before the age of nineteen. (Tell me, how emotionally stable were YOU at nineteen?)

Throw a little (justifiable) race-hatred into the mix. Plus a forced marriage--to someone ultimately good-hearted, but with a bit of medieval chauvanism and bigotry of his own to overcome. Turn up the heat, and watch the fun. Watch them both grow up, and grow into each other.

Admittedly, I first read this book when I was in my early teens; but recently I re-read it. "Highland Velvet," and the other so-called Montgomery Annals, have really stood the test of time.

Save your bile for the historical inaccuracies. ;) Like, in 1501, Scotland had a frigging king. Hello? Couldn't Bronwyn have appealed to HIM, to save her from this marriage? And the "plaid"--by this, Devereaux seems to mean the "great-kilt"--wasn't known to exist for another couple hundred years. It's just a good, kinky stock device for love-scenes.
11 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Annoying and Childish From Start to Finish 21 août 2009
Par Terrie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
From the beginning entries of the book I was concerned that I wasn't going to have a good reading experience but I trailed on through hoping that I was wrong. I forced myself to read the book telling myself that maybe it will get better. I have to say that it did not and I was really disgusted with the whole thing. I absolutely could not stand the heroine. I've never said that about any hero or heroine from the novels I've read (and there have been a great many) because there was always something redeeming about the person. In the case of Bronwyn this was not so. Not only was this person extremely childish she was very surly and WAY too high handed with people, especially men. My goodness, even the most minuscule of action or speech she thought was an insult to her pride and sensibilities she made certain to remind her husband (Stephen) and anyone who'd listened long enough that she was "THE MacARRAN" (The chief of the clan); geez, I couldn't stand it. Compound this negative attitude with repeated poor judgment on her part (mostly due to her childish and rash behavior) and it was enough to drive the most patient of people crazy. Throughout the novel I had the impression that the author was going out her way to point out the injustices of being a woman during the 1500s and how Bronwyn was going to break the mode and be as tough as any of the guys plus eat fire (chomp..."Hey, where'd his hand go?"):D

No...I'm sorry but this book was a huge downer for me; it was a strain reading it. Normally I enjoy reading about a heroine with spunk who is willing to take a stand against the ills of life however; I also appreciate a heroine with common sense and maturity. I did not see these traits at all in this "heroine." This woman's attitude took the cake with a vengeance and any man that would dare ask her for a piece risked health and happiness.
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