Read an Excerpt
The magnificence of spring in the Scottish Highlands splashed across the countryside, covering the meadows in a riotous patchwork of yellow, green and purple. Genevieve Fitzsimmons peered curiously at the sight through the dusty carriage window, thinking Scotland didn't seem all that barbaric in the bright sunlight. But it wasn't the scenery that had her worried.
It was him, Connor Douglas. Scottish rogue and her future employer.
She narrowed her eyes and squinted in the distance, waiting for the famed twin turrets of Caisteal na Mara, or Castle by the Sea, to appear. The castle by the sea would be her new home, at least temporarily. For years her grandfather had spun delightful and frightening tales about the castle inhabitants.
Huddling in one corner of the otherwise empty carriage, Genevieve peered out the window and clung desperately to the seat. The carriage rocked so badly, she was certain a spill was imminent. Her stomach dropped as the road wound around a steep hill, revealing a precipitous rocky cliff on one side. Daring a glance down, she could see waves crashing against a boulder-strewn beach. Seagulls screeched in the sky as they circled, almost as if crying a warning to her.
The carriage continued its dangerous trek around the tor until suddenly the castle loomed ahead. Genevieve's breath caught at the sight of the imposing stone fortress. Surrounded by a thick, high wall on one side and the natural defense of the cliffs on the other, the only visible edifices she could see were the jutting twin turrets in the northeast and southeast corners.
At last the wheels lurched to a stop and Genevieve peered out the window. They were about to cross a bridge leading to the imposing castle. She craned her neck, looking up at the impressive structure just as her driver pulled forward across the bridge and into the bumpy courtyard.
The door opened and the grizzled driver held out his hand. "I hope the ride wasna too rough for ye, miss. Welcome to Caisteal na Mara."
She alighted, wanting to drop to her knees and kiss the ground, thankful she was yet alive. But instead she smiled graciously. "I thank you, sir." She placed her bonnet firmly back on her head, tucking in a few strands of her flyaway brown hair and tying the ribbon under her chin.
A middle-aged woman with a starched apron and white cap on her hair appeared at the doorway to the castle. She waved her hand at Genevieve. "Miss Fitzsimmons?"
"Yes." Genevieve walked toward her. "Are you Mrs. MacDougal?"
"Aye, I am." The housekeeper had a round, friendly face and Genevieve liked her instantly. "I trust the journey wasna too difficult."
She resisted the urge to rub her aching bum. "We stayed last night in the village, so the trip this morning was quite brief." She couldn't help but stare up at the castle, feeling small in its shadow. "'Tis quite an impressive structure."
"Aye, 'tis so. And we welcome ye warmly."
"Really?" Genevieve murmured.
The housekeeper must have heard her for she smiled. "Dinna fret, lass. Ye'll be treated fairly here. Although for many o' us, 'twas quite a surprise to hear Mr. Douglas had hired an Englishwoman. Sometimes, I fear the world has gone mad, I do."
Genevieve didn't sense any hostility behind the words, but something in her tone seemed odd. "You don't approve of an English governess?"