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The Scottish Prisoner Hardcover – Nov 29 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Resurrection of Joan Ashby

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 1st Edition edition (Nov. 29 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385660987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385660983
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 4.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #27,076 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

DIANA GABALDON is the New York Times bestselling author of the popular Outlander novels - Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, Drums of Autumn, The Fiery Cross, A Breath of Snow and Ashes, and An Echo in the Bone - as well as the bestselling series featuring Lord John Grey, a character she introduced in Voyager, and one work of nonfiction, The Outlandish Companion. She won a 2006 Quill Award for her sixth Outlander book, A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Helwater, the Lake District
April 1, 1760
 
It was so cold out, He thought his cock might break off in his hand— if he could find it. The thought passed through his sleep-mazed mind like one of the small, icy drafts that darted through the loft, making him open his eyes.
 
He could find it now; had waked with his fist wrapped round it and desire shuddering and twitching over his skin like a cloud of midges. The dream was wrapped just as tightly round his mind, but he knew it would fray in seconds, shredded by the snores and farts of the other grooms. He needed her, needed to spill himself with the feel of her touch still on him.
 
Hanks stirred in his sleep, chuckled loudly, said something incoherent, and fell back into the void, murmuring, “Bugger, bugger, bugger . . .”
 
Jamie said something similar under his breath in the Gaelic and flung back his blanket. Damn the cold.
 
He made his way down the ladder into the half- warm, horsesmelling fug of the barn, nearly falling in his haste, ignoring a splinter in his bare foot. He hesitated in the dark, still urgent. The horses wouldn’t care, but if they noticed him, they’d make enough noise, perhaps, to wake the others.
 
Wind struck the barn and went booming round the roof. A strong chilly draft with a scent of snow stirred the somnolence, and two or three of the horses shifted, grunting and whickering. Overhead, a murmured “ ’ugger” drifted down, accompanied by the sound of someone turning over and pulling the blanket up round his ears, defying reality.
 
Claire was still with him, vivid in his mind, solid in his hands. He could imagine that he smelled her hair in the scent of fresh hay. The memory of her mouth, those sharp white teeth . . . He rubbed his nipple, hard and itching beneath his shirt, and swallowed. His eyes were long accustomed to the dark; he found the vacant loose box at the end of the row and leaned against its boards, cock already in his fist, body and mind yearning for his lost wife.
 
He’d have made it last if he could, but he was fearful lest the dream go altogether, and he surged into the memory, groaning. His knees gave way in the aftermath and he slid slowly down the boards of the box into the loose piled hay, shirt rucked round his thighs and his heart pounding like a kettledrum.
 
Lord, that she might be safe was his last conscious thought. She and the child.
 
HE PLUNGED at once into a sleep so deep and luxurious that when a hand shook him by the shoulder, he didn’t spring to his feet but merely stirred sluggishly, momentarily befuddled by the prickle of hay on his bare legs. His instincts came back to life in sudden alarm and he flung himself over, getting his feet under him in the same motion that put his back against the wall of the loose box.
 
There was a gasp from the small form in the shadows before him, and he classified it as feminine just in time to restrain himself from reflexive violence.
 
“Who’s that?” he demanded. He spoke low, his voice hoarse with sleep, and the form swayed back a little farther, exhibiting dubiousness.
 
He was in no mood for foolishness and shot out a hand, grabbing her by the arm. She squealed like a pig and he let go as though she were red- hot, cursing himself mentally as he heard the startled grunts and rustlings of his fellow grooms overhead.
 
“What the devil’s that?” Crusoe demanded, in a voice like a clogged pipe. Jamie heard him clear his throat and spit thickly into his half- filled pot, then bellow down the ladder, “Who’s there?”
 
The shadowy form was making wild motions, beseeching him to be silent. The horses were half awake, snorting with mild confusion but not panicked; they were used to Crusoe shouting in the night. He did it whenever he had the money to buy drink, waking from nightmares in a cold sweat, shrieking at his demons. Jamie rubbed a hand over his face, trying to think. If Crusoe and Hanks didn’t already know he was gone, they’d notice in the next few seconds.
 
“Rats in the feed,” he shouted up. “I killed one.” It was a feeble story; there were always rats in the feed, and no one would have stirred a finger to investigate their noises in the dead of night, let alone hunt them in the dark.
 
Hanks made a sound of disgust, rustling his bedclothes. “The Scotchman’s buggering the horses again,” he said conversationally to Crusoe, though clearly speaking loud enough to be heard below. “Ought to speak to his lordship about it.”
 
Crusoe grunted angrily. “Well, whatever the fuck you’re doin’, MacKenzie, be quiet about it!” he shouted, and flung himself over on his pallet in a flurry of bother.
 
Jamie’s heart was pounding again, with annoyed agitation. He reached for the young woman— no auld crone squealed like that— but slowly this time, and she made no demur when he took her by the arm. He led her down the stone- flagged aisle between the stalls and outside, shoving the sliding door to behind them with a rumble.
 
It was cold enough out to make him gasp, an icy wind flattening his shirt to his body and stealing his breath. The moon was obscured by racing cloud, but enough glow came from the sky for him to make out the identity of his intruder.
 
“What the devil d’ye want?” he snapped. “And how did ye ken where I was?” It had dawned on him that she hadn’t just stumbled over him in the hay, for why would a lady’s maid be poking about the stables at night? She’d come looking for him.
 
Betty lifted her chin.
 
“There’s a man what wants to talk to you. He sent me to say. And I saw you come down from the loft.”
 
That last sentence floated in the air between them, charged like a Leyden jar. Touch it, and there’d be a spark that would stand his hair on end. Christ. Did she have any notion what it was he’d been doing?
 
He caught the hint of a smirk on her face before a cloud shadow obscured it, and his ears went suddenly hot with rising blood.
 
“What man?” he said. “Where?”
 
“An Irishman,” she said. “But a gentleman. He says to tell you the green branch will flower. And to meet him on the fells, where the old shepherd’s hut is.”
 
The shock of it nearly made him forget the cold, though the wind was ripping through the linen of his shirt and he was shivering so hard that he found it hard to speak without his voice shaking. And that wouldn’t do.
 
“I’ve nothing to do wi’ any Irishmen,” he snapped. “And if he comes back, ye may tell him so.” He put a hand on the door, turning to go in. “I’m going to my bed. Good night to ye.”
 
A light hand ran down his back and stopped just above his buttocks. He could feel the hair there bristle like a badger’s, and not from the cold.
 
“Your bed’ll be cold as death by now.” She’d stepped close; he could feel the slight warmth of her body behind him, the heat of her breath through his shirt. And she still had her hand on him. Lower now. “Mine’s a good deal warmer.”
 
Holy Lord. Arse clenched, he moved deliberately away from her and pushed the door open.
 
“Good night,” he said, without turning round, and stepped into the rustling, inquisitive dark of the stable. He saw her for an instant as he turned to shut the door, caught in the flickering moonlight, her eyes narrowed like an angry cat’s.


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