Them o’ us in service at th’ Hare and Hound know well that loose talk happens when drinks flow and folks forget there be listening ears. T’other week we overheard a lady bent on getting answers out o’ a gent something fierce. When we ferreted out that he were the king’s man, Connor Grant, we knew Tattler readers would ha’ interest. The lady claims to be Ariana Fitzroy. Imagine when we heard she’s a card cheat!

The Lady: How long have you been training the fallen women of King James’ court to be spies? Is it as long as you’ve been working as his personal assassin?

Connor: *glances around with obvious discomfort* I dinna think I shouldna discuss that here.

The Lady *laughs at her own folly*: Right. Well, then – what did you think when you saw me for the first time?

A Card Game by Gabriel Metsu

The Gent: I couldna believe ye were cheating at cards right in front of everyone and no one was any the wiser. It was bold.

The Lady *gives the gent a coy look*: Did you think I was beautiful?

The Gent: Of course. All the girls I train are bonny. But I’ve always made it a point never to have an interest in the girls I trained.

The Lady: But you did with me. What was so different about me?

The Gent *regards the lady with an endearing consideration*: Ye were unassuming. Ye were such a scrawny wee thing when ye came to Scotland, I feared ye might be blown away by a strong wind. But then ye were so determined. And despite that drive to constantly do better, ye were kind — always putting others before yerself. Ye earned my admiration and ye stole my heart as sure as ye slipped cards.

The Lady *blushes and tries to keep a serious face despite her growing smile*: Did you think I would accept your offer to become a spy for King James?

The Gent: I knew ye would, or I wouldna have asked.

The Lady: Did I surprise you with how quickly I learned?

The Gent: Nay, I knew you would. Ye were too confident at that card table, too smooth in yer actions. I knew ye were smart and I knew ye had skill long before even yer first lesson. It was yer determination which surprised and impressed me.

The Lady: I learned a lot from you during my training. Did you learn anything from me?

The Gent: Aye, I learned a lot from ye, lass. But those listening in on this interview will need to read our book to find out just how much. *gives a shameless wink to the crowd in the Hare and Hound*

The Lady *smiles*: I’m glad you feel you learned so much from me. Can you share your favorite thing you learned from me?

The Gent *grinning*: How to play at cards when it’s no’ coins ye’re gambling with.

The Lady *flushes bright red and speaks quickly*: Well, that’s all the time we have. *flashes a final grin and slips away with The Gent*

About the Book: Highland Spy (Mercenary Maidens Book 1)

Ariana Fitzroy has lost her family and her fortune. The fight for survival leads her to the shadowed card games of court where she discovers she has quite a talent for slipping cards into her favor. While the winnings are enough to sustain her at present, they will not last forever…

Connor Grant, trainer of the fallen women from the English court and personal assassin to the king, is just as broken as the women he trains. After losing his own land and all his people in a brutal attack from a trusted friend, he has no choice but to rebuild any way he sees possible – even if it means going against everything he’s ever believed in.

After catching Ariana cheating at cards, Connor has a new trainee to instruct at one of the king’s many confiscated castles. In the dilapidated ruins, he discovers Ariana is more than she appears and falls in love with her incredibly tenacity and dedication – a love that is challenged by Connor’s chance at reclaiming the inheritance he once lost and has sought so desperately to regain.

This story is one of second chances, of realizing a strength where only hopelessness once resided – a story of rising above the bad hand one has been dealt into a life of accomplishment and love.


Ariana Fitzroy had been too greedy.

She gave a charming smile to the men at the table and pulled a pile of coins toward herself. They clinked against one another, the merry tinkling rising above the din of laughter and conversation.

How she’d come to love the sound of her winnings.

Tonight though, she’d taken it a mite too far.

She’d gone beyond what she needed for the merchant’s bills, the servants’ pay, and the rent on her meager lodgings.

The coins were cool against the warmth of her palm.

Winning always gave her such a heady rush, a wash of heat spreading from her cheeks to her chest and all the way down to her satin-slippered toes.

A discomfiting sensation settled on Ariana, one of which she’d always been especially wary.

The weight of being watched.

Praise For Highland Spy

“The first of Martin’s Mercenary Maidens will intrigue readers seeking a story filled with a large cast of characters, plenty of adventure and heated love scenes. Martin showcases her talent for storytelling as this fast-paced tale moves from one adventure to another at lightning speed. . . . readers longing for a good old-fashioned adventure with empowered women will find much to enjoy.”

—RT Book Reviews

“Appealing. . . a solid thread of teamwork and family, provided by the strong supporting cast of Ariana’s fellow spies underlies the romance between Ariana and Connor, creating a community that will surely thrive as the series continues.”

—Publishers Weekly

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About the Author

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (AKA OldestMinion and YoungestMinion) along with Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Her hobbies include rock climbing, running, doing crazy races (like Mud Runs and Color Runs) and just about anything exciting she can do without getting nauseous. She’s also a history fan after having lived in Europe for over a decade, and enjoys traveling overseas whenever she can. Her favorite place to visit thus far: Scotland.

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