An Unlikely Governess

An Unlikely Governess

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by Karen Ranney

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Beatrice can handle a troubled young duke — but the boy's dangerously appealing cousin Devlen is another matter entirely . . .

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Beatrice can handle a troubled young duke — but the boy's dangerously appealing cousin Devlen is another matter entirely . . .

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HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Avon Romantic Treasures Series
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Unlikely Governess, An

By Karen Ranney

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Karen Ranney
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060757434

Chapter One

Kilbridden Village, Scotland
November 1832

"I'll work very hard, I promise."

"Gimme your hands."

Beatrice Sinclair stretched out her hands. Because she was trembling, she placed them palm up on the bar.

"You've got calluses all right. But you look like you'd fall over after a few hours of good work. I need a healthy lass, one who can be on her feet twelve hours."

"I'll be your best worker. I'll even work for free the first week to prove it."

"Can you wipe a table down in the wink of an eye? Or give a little saucy wiggle to the patrons?"

She nodded.

"Laugh at my customers' jokes, even if they be sorry ones?"

"I can."

"You don't look the type my customers like. You're too pale, and you've got an air about you." He frowned. "Are you sick?"

"I'm very healthy."

"Then why are you shaking?"

"I'm just cold."

He didn't look as if he believed her.

"Who told you I was looking for another tavern wench?"

"The owner of the Sword and Dragon."

"Went there, did you? Bet he wanted someone younger."

"He said he didn't have need for another helper."

"That's not true. His business has been near as good as mine. For the last half year, at least. Before that, no one came to drink or talk." He began to wipe down the bar with a spotted rag, looking as if he were thinking about the matter. "Did you have the sickness?"

She shook her head again, afraid to tell him the truth. But all the assurances in the world wouldn't matter. The minute the tavern maid entered the room Beatrice knew she'd lost the post. She couldn't wear a blouse that revealed all her assets or a skirt that bared her ankles. Nor was she given to simpering smiles or coy looks. While she didn't object to dispensing spirits, she wasn't about to sell herself along with them.

The innkeeper grinned. Several teeth were missing, and the effect was more of a leer.

"Go up to Castle Crannoch. They'll have a job for you."

She'd heard of Castle Crannoch ever since coming to Kilbridden Village, but she'd never considered it a source of employment.

"Castle Crannoch?"

He jerked his chin toward the ceiling.

"Aye, where the duke lives. Go ask the duke for a job. He'll give you one, but I won't."

Beatrice tightened her hands on her reticule and thanked the tavern owner with as much grace as she could muster. She'd come all this way for nothing.

She left the inn and stood outside. The cold rain seeped through her thin dress, a reminder that she'd traded her cloak for a sack of flour and a few eggs a week ago. Beatrice tightened her shawl around her hair, held it closed with one hand at her neck, and looked up at the mountain in front of her.

Castle Crannoch stood at the very top, overlooking the village. The fortress dominated the countryside, visible to anyone approaching, a sentinel of the past that looked capable of protecting its inhabitants well into the future.

Occasionally, word would seep down from the top of the mountain as to the lives of the occupants of Castle Crannoch. There had been tragedy there not long ago, she recalled. But her own life had been so difficult that she'd paid the gossip little attention.

The castle was oddly shaped, constructed as if it were a large box with a smaller box pulled from inside it. The two square buildings sat adjacent to each other atop the mountain, the smaller structure in stages of disrepair, the larger box topped by four turrets. The only way to the place was up a long and winding road. Not only did her legs ache but the climb looked to be a frightening one.

A voice, sounding too much like her father's, spoke against the fierce wind. Do not go, Beatrice. No single woman of good character would seek employment there. There were rumors about Castle Crannoch.

She no longer had a choice.

Slowly, she began to walk up the winding road, praying for endurance. She wouldn't allow herself to look up at the castle again. Doing so would only make the task seem interminable. She concentrated, instead, on putting one foot in front of the other, leaning into the rain.

Her shawl was sodden, but she tightened it around her head, holding it close at the neck. How long had she been walking? Hours? Surely not that long.

She heard the sound of the carriage and eased closer to the parapet. In the darkness she couldn't see the drop, but her imagination furnished the distance in her mind, adding jagged peaks and huge boulders at the bottom of the ravine.

The approaching carriage was a blur of motion, a dark shadow against the wall. Four horses pulled the ebony shape, the lead pair adorned with gleaming silver appointments. Twin lanterns, also silver, sat on either side of the door, but they were unlit, leaving her to wonder if the occupant of such a magnificent carriage wanted privacy. Or secrecy.

The coach took up the full width of the road, forcing her to the edge. Beatrice gripped the wall with her frayed gloves and felt them tear further. Was God punishing her for her daring, for her journey, for the thought of working in such a place as the duke's lair?

Only the curving half wall stood between her and the abyss. She held her breath as the carriage passed, the stallions from hell blending back into the shadows, their silver appointments winking out of sight.

Was it Black Donald, the devil himself? If so, it appeared he was not quite ready to abandon her. The carriage halted on the next curve. She gripped her reticule with both hands in front of her as if the small bag could offer some protection. She debated waiting until the carriage moved forward, but the rain was getting heavier. She had to make it to Castle Crannoch tonight.


Excerpted from Unlikely Governess, An 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.

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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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Unlikely Governess 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
A year ago, her parents died from the cholera epidemic leaving Beatrice Sinclair impoverished, but in the last three months she finds herself in dire straits. Desperate to eat, she seeks work as a tavern wench in Kilbridden Village, Scotland, but the owners reject her as not being right for their customers due to her ¿airs¿. They tell her to go to nearby Castle Crannoch where her kind will find work. Though she knows of the rumors that no moral woman would accept a job at the castle, Beatrice concludes that is her last hope. --- Near the castle in the rain she meets Devlen Gordon, who takes her to see the nine year old Duke Robert, as she requested. The Duke insults her so she begins to leave, but faints from a lack of eating. After she is fed, Beatrice is hired as governess to teach the rude Robert manners. Beatrice soon finds herself drawn to her host though she considers him a devil, but also feels sympathy towards her lonely employer. Someone wants Robert dead Beatrice vows to risk her life to keep him safe though she wonders who will keep her heart safe from the sharpest cut of all, Devlen. --- This interesting 1830s gothic romantic suspense is filled with surprisingly delightful twists centered on Beatrice¿s efforts to uncover who in the dark castle is determined to see Robert dead. The suspects surround Beatrice with each having greed as an obvious motive her biggest fear is that the brooding Devlen is behind the assaults. Fans of early nineteenth century romances will want to read Karen Ranney¿s fine historical thriller. --- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
So many romance novels are trash- fun to read as long as you can 'overlook' all the grammar errors, plot gaps, etc. I enjoyed this book because it was unusually well-written for a romance novel (but still steamy). Poor Beatrice is rather downtrodden and stuck as a governess in a place she'd rather not be, but it all turns out for the best, and it reads a bit like a classic Austen novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by this author. Very good book, great sex scenes.
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Loved it loved it you must buy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ienjoyed this book. Good characters
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Very unusual romance and extremely enjoyable
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Sherkeekie More than 1 year ago
At first I really felt sorry for Beatrice. She was near starving when she got the job at the castle as a governess. She was a gently raised woman who had been very much sheltered by her doting parents who died and left her penniless. So I was really surprised that she was so easily fell into bed with Devlin, the cousin of the little duke in her charge . It didn't seem to run true to character. I didn't expect her to be a slut and I would have liked her more if she hadn't been so eager to divest herself of her virginity. It was expected she would sleep with Devlin but she was a bit too willing. I liked the little duke but it might have been a more interesting story if he had tried harder to run her off as he had previous tutors and governesses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Again Karen Ranney proves to me she is still one of the top writers of flawless, elegant, and intelligent dialogs. Her words alone can create the most sensual and stimulating moods without her characters ever touching one another. In her latest novel, AN UNLIKELY GOVERNESS, she does just that. ----- Over the last twelve months Beatrice Sinclair had survived a cholera epidemic that claimed her parents¿ lives. Impoverished, untitled, and hungry, she¿d sold what she could in order to eat, but further survival left her seeking work. Overlooking her village is Castle Crannoch, a dark forbidding monolith - home of the Duke of Brechin where she discovers that the `duke¿ is none other than a spoiled, ill-tempered and arrogant seven year old. Offered the job of governess to Robert, `His Grace¿ Beatrice would eventually come to view the young child with both compassion and empathy once she realized that his arrogance was to disguise the frightened terrorized child that he was. ------ On the other hand, Devlen Gordon, cousin and son of Robert¿s guardian, was a charming and arresting man whose verbal discourse both infuriated and excited Beatrice. Devlen was a temptation that she was finding harder and harder to ignore. He was challenging - opening new worlds for her to explore - both exciting and filled with danger as she became entangled in the attempts on the young duke¿s life. Would trusting Devlen be her salvation or her worst nightmare? ------ *** Ranney does a marvelous job with creating mood, and developing compelling characterizations of her characters. The sensuality built between Devlen and Beatrice was beautifully scripted and a joy to read. Likewise, the level of trust Beatrice developed with Robert, was also carefully scripted and perfectly paced. Additionally, the revelation of the culprit behind the murder attempts offered a twist. One fault I had trouble overlooking was the unexplored and unexplained bitter animosity between Devlen and his father. Regardless, this was a read I fully enjoyed and found enormously entertaining, even though I¿d still love the answer to the animosity question! What WAS that all about?