Scottish chief's daughter Tinnie MacAieth can think of only one way to ransom her clan's folk, defeated by the fierce Viking, Claus — agree to his demand that she become his bride. She hopes the faith she holds to and the love she has for her people will give strength to endure a lonely, loveless future in the cold north.
Claus has claimed Tinnie for his wife, but the prize he truly wants is her heart. Determined to win it, he offers her many gifts, but not until he undertakes a dangerous winter voyage for her sake does he dare hope. And on one magical Christmas Eve, while delivering toys by sleigh to her clan's children, he begins to believe she may grant him the one gift he desires...
“Where is Chief MacAieth?” he asked.
“I am his widow.”
“Ah.” Surprise lifted Claus’ eyebrows. At what point in the fight had the man perished? Had it been of wounds taken in battle? “Then, Missus, I would speak with your sons.”
“My sons are both dead.” Her voice did tremble then. “You see all that is left of the Chief’s house.”
She gestured to the second woman, and Claus turned his eyes thence accordingly. He lost all his breath, precisely as if he had received a hard blow to the gut.
Here, surely, lay Clan Aieth’s treasure. She must be daughter to the Chief’s wife—there existed enough resemblance. Yet her beauty lit the poor room even as the fire failed to do. Brown-haired like her mother, her flowing tresses carried a kiss of warmth like oak leaves in fall. Her face, a perfect oval, appeared serene—skin white as snow, lips tinged berry red. But Claus saw nothing of serenity in her eyes. Deep, dusky blue, they held all the wild fury of a storm on a distant sea, a thing Claus knew full well.
His heart stuttered in his chest, and suddenly all his well-marshaled demands flew out of his head. A conquering marauder, he nevertheless suddenly wanted to throw himself at this woman’s feet.
Yet in her beautiful eyes he saw only hate.