An indomitable governess…a brooding Highlander…
a forbidden affair…
An ill-fated elopement cost English-born governess Bernadette Holly her reputation, her unsuitable lover and any chance of a future match. She has nothing left to fear—not even the bitter, dangerously handsome Scot due to marry her young charge. Naive wallflower Avaline is terrified to wed Rabbie Mackenzie, but if he sends her home, she will be ruined. Bernadette’s solution: convince Rabbie to get Avaline to cry off…while ignoring her own traitorous attraction to him.
A forced engagement to an Englishwoman is a hard pill for any Scot to swallow. It’s even worse when the fiancée in question is a delicate, foolish young miss—unlike her spirited, quick-witted governess. Sparring with Bernadette brings passion and light back to Rabbie’s life after the failed Jacobite uprising. His clan’s future depends upon his match to another, but how can any Highlander forsake a love that stirs his heart and soul?
“An absorbing read from a novelist at the top of her game.” –Kirkus STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)
“Expert storytelling and believable characters make the romance between Arran and Margot come alive in this compelling novel packed with characters whom readers will be sad to leave behind.” –Publishers Weekly STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)
“With well-developed characters who experience genuine growth, London is at the top of her game in this thrilling tale of political intrigue and second chances. This absorbing and passionate romance bodes well for future Highland Grooms titles.” –Booklist STARRED review on Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms #1)
“Bit of an unusual place you have here,” the man who looked like a ghost said as he strolled forward. Behind him, another man waddled after him like a fatted pig. Both of their wigs were ridiculous. “How good of you to receive us. I understand Killeaven is a bit of a drive yet from here?”
“Four miles through the hills,” Arran Mackenzie said. He picked up his cane and began to make his way down from the dais. In spite of that cane, Rabbie’s father was still a commanding figure, and he dwarfed Lord Kent. “You and yours are most welcome in our home tonight, aye? Rest here before carrying on to Killeaven.” He turned partially as Rabbie’s mother stepped off the dais to join them. “My wife, the Lady Mackenzie.”
His mother curtsied and greeted them. Kent turned quite jovial at the sight of his mother, no doubt pleased with her English accent and her beauty. He introduced the man with him as his brother, Lord Ramsey.
“May I introduce you to our son?” his mother asked pleasantly, and gestured toward Rabbie.
Kent’s head snapped round, and he eyed Rabbie through a squint as Rabbie came to his feet and began to make his way down from the dais. “Well then, you’re a fine specimen, are you not? As physically fit as your father and brother, I dare say. Look here, Avaline, here is your future husband,” he said, and turned back to his group.
Someone nudged the pitiful lass forward. She stumbled slightly, found her footing and curtsied. She had hair the color of barley, green eyes and cheeks flushed to the color of plums. She was a wee thing, and the only thought Rabbie could summon was that he would crush her on their wedding night. He’d have to put the virgin on top of him.
He approached the group. The lass would not look at him. “My lord,” he said to her father, and bowed. He glanced again at the girl, who had yet to meet his gaze.
“A strong young man,” Kent said, taking Rabbie in, nodding approvingly, as if Rabbie were a prized cow. “You’ll give me heirs, I dare say you will. May I present my daughter, Miss Avaline Kent of Bothing,” he said, and took his daughter’s arm, drawing her forward. “She’s pretty, isn’t she?”
Rabbie looked at her fair complexion. She was chewing her bottom lip. Her hands were quite small, suitable for nothing useful as far as he could see. “Bonny enough, I suppose, aye,” he said.
With the exception of the startled cough from the woman leaning against the wall, no one said a word for a moment.
And then Baron Kent laughed roundly. “Good enough!” he jovially agreed.
Rabbie’s mother managed a kick to his ankle. He moved forward lest she kick him again and presented his palm to receive Miss Kent’s wee little hand. “How do you, Miss Kent.”
“My lord—sir,” she said, and curtsied again, as if she hadn’t noticed his hand at all. And when she did sink into that curtsy, Rabbie happened to glance at the woman by the wall. She had dark hair, quite dark, like Rabbie’s sister, Vivienne. And hazel eyes. She was frowning at him, and not in an elegant way like his mother. And then she looked away, as if annoyed by him.
Julia London is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of more than thirty novels, including the popular Secrets of Hadley Green historical romance series, the Cabot Sisters historical romance series, and the Homecoming Ranch contemporary romance series. She is a six time finalist for the presitigous RITA Award for excellence in romantic fiction, and RT Bookclub award recipient for Best Historical Romance for Dangerous Gentleman. She lives in Austin, Texas.