Devon St John has never had a problem in his life--until now. Born to wealth and privilege, surrounded by a warm and loving family, he has pursued a life of leisure, chasing the most beautiful women London has to offer. All told, he has the perfect life and no intentions of ever settling down in any shape, form or fashion. So resolved, he heads to his friend's Scottish castle, unaware that fate is already hard at work.
As the illegitimate half-sister to Viscount Strathmore, Melody Macdonald refuses to reside under his roof and instead lives in a thatched house on the edge of the forest that borders Strathmore Castle. Ever since she ran off at the tender age of twelve to become an apprentice to a master of stained glass, Melody has been deplorably independent and wild. When Devon arrives at Strathmore Castle, he is taken aback by the rude, overbearing, illegitimate Scotswoman who refuses even to pretend to possess any feminine wiles. But Devon is determined to teach the strong-willed Melody a lesson in love ...
I pity people who think to fool their fellow man.Take poor Mary Gillenwather. She stuffed the frontof her gown with paper in an effort to appear betterendowed. We all knew she'd done it, but no one saida word; you simply cannot work that sort of thinginto a genteel conversation. But it wasn't necessaryafter all. Last night, at the Pooles' dinner party, shesneezed and dropped an entire issue of the MorningPost into her soup.
Lady Mountjoy to her friend
Miss Clarissa Fullerton,
while sipping chocolate at Betty's Tea House
It was raining. Not a soft, whispering rain, thekind that mists the world into a greener, lusherplace, but a harsh, heavy deluge that sopped theearth and saturated the very air with unendinggrayness. Water pooled, collected, swirled, swelled,and then burst into fields, raged through ditches,and rampaged across roads.
It was in this heavy, unending torrent that the lumbering carriage finally reached its destinationlate at night. The driver and footmen were exhausted,the horses straining heavily as they pulledthe mud-coated ornate wheels through the muckand mire that had once been a road.
Ten minutes later, around the curve of a hill, appeareda looming stone castle that stretched up intothe blackness of night. The coachman didn't evenbother to wipe the rain from his face as he halted thecarriage at the door. Too wet to do more than tilt hishat brim to empty it of whatever water had collected,he squinted at the dark edifice that loomed in frontof them. "Gor," he said softly, awe overwhelmingthe tiredness of his voice.
Beside him on the seat was Paul the footman, a relativelynew arrival to Mr. Devon St. John's ratherconsiderable staff. Paul was inclined to agree withJohn the coachman. "Dark, it is. It fair makes meshiver in me boots. Are ye sure we've come to theright place?"
"Mr. St. John said to go to Kilkairn Castle and toKilkairn Castle we've come." The coachman shookhis head disgustedly. "Though to tell ye the truth, Ithink Mr. St. John has bumped his noggin."
"Why do ye think that?"
"Just look at the facts. First he leaves his ownbrother's weddin' afore it even begins and then heorders us to bring him here, drivin' through godforsakenrain fer days on end. And when we do get tothis lumbering pile of stone, there's nary a light on!"He sourly regarded the bleak building in front of them. "Looks deserted and hainted by ghosties, if Iain't mistaken."
Paul stood, stealing yet another glance at the darkedifice before them. While he wasn't a great believerin ghosties, the castle definitely left him with an uneasy,spine-tingling sensation that was as unnervingas the constant pour of rain.
Biting back a sigh, Paul made his way down fromthe seat, landing in a huge puddle of muck that sankhis wet boots up to his ankles. "The drive's a rankmess."
"I only hopes they've a barn, though I daresay it isas leaky as a sieve, judging from the looks of things.Didn't they knowed we was comin'?"
"They was tol'. I posted the letter for Mr. St. Johnmeself." Paul tugged his hat lower, though it was sowet it no longer protected him from anything the elementshad to offer. He hoped the owner of the castlewas not as ramshackle as his edifice and had aplace prepared for them all.
Holding this warming thought in place, the footmantrudged back to open the door for his master,stopping to collect a lantern from a side hook. It tooka while to get the blasted lamp lit.
He carried the lantern to the door and hung it on ahook there, the golden pool of light greatly diminishedby the weather. He tugged on the door handle,opened it, and then let down the steps.
Inside the plush carriage sprawled a long, elegantfigure dressed...