Autumn in Scotland

Autumn in Scotland

3.7 13
by Karen Ranney
     
 

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Abandoned by a rogue

Betrothed to an earl she had never met, Charlotte Haversham arrived at Balfurin, hoping to find love at the legendary Scottish castle. Instead she found decaying towers and no husband among the ruins. So Charlotte worked a miracle, transforming the rotting fortress into a prestigious girls' school. And now, five years later, her life is

Overview

Abandoned by a rogue

Betrothed to an earl she had never met, Charlotte Haversham arrived at Balfurin, hoping to find love at the legendary Scottish castle. Instead she found decaying towers and no husband among the ruins. So Charlotte worked a miracle, transforming the rotting fortress into a prestigious girls' school. And now, five years later, her life is filled with purpose—until . . .

Seduced by a stranger

A man storms Charlotte's castle—and he is not the reprehensible Earl of Marne, the one who stole her dowry and dignity, but rather the absent lord's handsome, worldly cousin Dixon MacKinnon. Mesmerized by the fiery Charlotte, Dixon is reluctant to correct her mistake. And though she's determined not to play the fool again, Charlotte finds herself strangely thrilled by the scoundrel's amorous attentions. But a dangerous intrigue has drawn Dixon to Balfurin. And if his ruse is prematurely revealed, a passionate, blossoming love affair could crumble into ruin.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060757458
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/28/2006
Series:
An Avon Romantic Treasure Series
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
361,296
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

Read an Excerpt

Autumn in Scotland


By Karen Ranney

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Karen Ranney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757450

Chapter One

October 1838

As homecomings went, this one would rank among the strangest.

Dixon Robert MacKinnon felt as if ghosts welcomed him, trailing their cold and lifeless fingers over his skin, greeting him with soft, almost soundless moans as if to warn him away from his destination. Yet the whole of Scotland was a place of ghosts, each hill and glen carrying memories of bittersweet victory or poignant loss. He'd forgotten how damp the air felt, as if the earth had wept and was now resting between tears.

How strange that he'd come halfway around the world for this moment and now he dreaded arriving at Balfurin.

He sat back among the cushions and surveyed his companion. Matthew was wedged into the corner of the carriage, arms crossed over his embroidered silk jacket, his gaze fixed at the tops of his pointed shoes. He'd been silent ever since yesterday when Dixon had announced it would be weeks before they left for Penang. In fact, it was very likely they would remain the winter in Scotland.

Dixon tapped on the ceiling, a signal for the coachman to slow. Another tap, and he felt the horses being walked to the side of the road.

"Come and have a look at Balfurin, Matthew," he said.

"I will remain here, if you do not mind, master," Matthew said, refusing to look in his direction. "The storm will be upon us shortly."

"Agood Scottish storm takes the fire out of the blood."

"I have no more fire in my blood, as you say, master. I have spent too much time being cold and wet for any fire to survive."

Dixon stifled his smile, exited the carriage and closed the door, not remarking to Matthew that a carriage would be no protection in a Scottish thunderstorm. He might as well stand in the lee of the wind and delight in its fury with no shelter at all.

Dixon walked some distance from the carriage, feeling as if the years fell away with each step.

His parents had died in a boating accident on the River Tam, and he'd been brought to Balfurin for his uncle to raise. His mother's home had soon become his. How many times had he raced around the ruined tower? Or run up the steps to the battlements themselves? He'd played Robert the Bruce or Hannibal, Caesar, or a host of other warriors, and all during those pretend battles, he'd been the Earl of Marne, not George. Even as a child, he'd been envious of George's position in the world. Not just that his cousin had inherited the title, but that he would forever be known as the Laird of Balfurin.

The red streaks of sunset were a perfect backdrop to his first view of Balfurin. In the distance, the sky was already black, but not from nightfall as much as an approaching storm. An omen, perhaps, that Balfurin didn't welcome him back home with much enthusiasm.

He should have heeded the warning.

Balfurin was nothing like it had been. Dixon stared down at the glen, barely recognizing the castle.

The ruined tower wasn't there. Somehow, it had simply disappeared from the landscape. Had it finally crumbled and been carted away in a hundred barrows? Or better yet, had it been used to build the new addition to the east? A three-story building, rectangular and plain, seemed to have no relationship at all to the existing castle except for the fact it shared the same courtyard.

The curtain wall had been shored up, and the gate holding the portcullis had been repaired. The battlements looked as if their crenellated tops had been sharpened and there was a flag flying there, one that he couldn't make out from this distance.

The courtyard was filled with a hundred lit torches along the curtain wall. Candles outlined the path from the portcullis to the broad stone steps. Hundreds of flickering flames sat in every window of Balfurin, giving the impression that the castle itself was on fire.

A long line of carriages took turns before the steps, each set of passengers being escorted up the stairs by a girl dressed in a long flowing white gown.

Females of all ages, each identically dressed in the same type of gown, were milling about the courtyard. A few were lining up in a queue. One, her hand holding the end of her hair, was racing to the three-story building to the east, as if distraught over a ruined coiffure.

"Is it a church?" Matthew asked. Dixon turned to find the other man at his side.

"I've never known George to be religious," he said. "But a decade can change a man."

"A man wills his own change," Matthew said. "Time does not matter."

Dixon stifled both his smile and his comment.

"Is this what you need, master?"

He glanced at Matthew.

"To ease your heart. Will it help?"

"We've agreed, Matthew. You will not speak of it."

Dixon looked down at Balfurin again. Would George welcome him home? Or would their rift, of a decade's standing, continue? Only the next few minutes would tell.

They returned to the carriage and Dixon gave the signal for the driver to begin the long descent to the glen.

"Well, what do you think, Maisie? Will I do?"

Charlotte MacKinnon, Countess of Marne, stared at herself in the mirror.

"I think you look absolutely stunning, your ladyship," Maisie said.

What had she expected? Maisie had been Charlotte's fiercest supporter since the day she had hired her as maid four years earlier.

Maisie was always smiling, the small space between her front teeth and the dimple in her right cheek giving her an impish expression. The young maid found the world to be a pleasant place, all in all. However, being around Maisie was sometimes a trying experience, especially on those days when Charlotte wasn't in the mood to be excessively bright and cheery. But right at the moment she was appreciative of the girl's effusive disposition.



Continues...

Excerpted from Autumn in Scotland by Karen Ranney Copyright © 2006 by Karen Ranney. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Karen Ranney wanted to be a writer from the time she was five years old and filled her Big Chief tablet with stories. People in stories did amazing things and she was too shy to do anything amazing. Years spent in Japan, Paris, and Italy, however, not only fueled her imagination but proved she wasn't that shy after all.

Now a New York Times and USA Today bestseller, she prefers to keep her adventures between the covers of her books. Karen lives in San Antonio, Texas.

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Autumn in Scotland 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charlotte Haversham is a lovely, strong, intelligent young woman who just happens to have been abandoned by everyone. Her husband, the Earl of Marne, who married her for her money and then left with it all after only one week of marriage, and her family who wrote her off for good when she drove off to the wilds of Scotland to live in his ruin of a castle. Her grandfather just happens to have left her a bit of money, so she invests it in remodeling the run down castle and starts the Caledonia School for the Advancement of Females. Five long years she works to make a life for herself in a land where the people still think of her as a crazy English lady coming to invade and change their land. Just as she finishes the first successful year and the graduation ceremony and ball is about to begin her long lost husband, George, shows up. The deception begins as this is not really George, but his cousin Dixon MacKinnon, who has been in the far east making his fortune and has returned to make amends with his cousin George and family. He is surprised at the changes, the missing of George, but most of all is immediately taken with with Charlotte. He continues the deception and begins a seduction so passionate that all culminates in one night and one phrase to Charlotte, 'come to my bed.' Charlotte is confused by this 'new' George that she doesn't remember being so tall, more handsome and more passionate. She has hated him for years, but now finds herself in love with him and this new passion he has brought out in her and she knows he will leave again and this time break her heart for good. The story is well-written and the secondary characters are all interesting. Matthew, Dixon's oriental companion and his relationship with a lame maid Maisie is heartwarming. The group of ladies involved in the group called 'The Edification Society,' who feel they need to start meeting at Charlotte's estate in order to help Charlotte along in her sexual response to her husband are hilarious. There is a surprise ending with more confusion and a little bit of heartache, but I won't give it away! Autumn in Scotland is an entertaining story that is enjoyable with strong characters and a bit of mystery that holds the reader's interest from beginning to end and is yet another book to add to the long list of Karen Ranney Scottish Historicals to romance collections.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i normally go through books quickly. however, this one just dragged. i found myself just skimming through the words so that i could finish it. maybe it was just this one.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1833 London Charlotte Haversham married Scottish Earl George MacKinnon, but except for that first night he never came to her bed. Soon afterward he abandoned his wife all together, but not before he collected her dowry. So being a paragon of behavior, Charlotte travels to her husband¿s home Castle Balfurin to live amidst the falling apart edifice and ruined land though he is not there. She finds the cold dark and damp abode inviting and plans to renovate the castle and invigorate the estate.-------------- Five years later, Dixon MacKinnon arrives at the family home Balfurin expecting ruins, but finding a warm home instead. The woman running the castle, Charlotte insists she is his wife, but he realizes she has confused him with his cousin George who has vanished without a trace he fails to correct Charlotte¿s error though he is not sure why except that he wants her. As he investigates what happened to that wastrel George and searches for rumored treasure hidden on the estate, he falls in love. However Dixon knows he owes his beloved the truth, but fears he will lose the treasure he has found, Charlotte.------------------ AUTUMN IN SCOTLAND is a charming historical romance with a touch of the gothic and a bit of a mystery to enhance the prime plot of the growing attraction between the lead couple. Charlotte is a delightful person who keeps her head high though George took her dowry, her virginity, and her dignity when he left her. Dixon is caught in the classic web of deceit as he knows the truth must be told, but the cost could destroy him as he knows his beloved does not trust men especially MacKinnon males. Karen Ranney provides a heated nineteenth century Scottish romance that her fans will treasure.----------------- Harriet Klausner
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Ranney has done it again, and brought as the tale, well written, of Charlotte and George??..well maybe it's not George...but perhaps Dixon... Only by reading this totally witty, delightful book, will you know... Indulge & Be Delighted... I did, and I was.