Jude Deveraux tempts the heart in this warm and wonderful New York Times bestseller featuring a feisty heroine, a hidden family treasure, and a Scottish laird who would rather die than be married.
It is 1909 and Temperance O'Neil is a woman ahead of her time. She's happy and devoted to her career helping single mothers on the streets of New York. But her new stepfather, Angus McCairn, does not approve. He makes her an unlikely offer: to go to Scotland, pose as housekeeper to his nephew James, and find him a wife, secretly. If she succeeds, he'll allow her back to New York.
Temperance -- smart, passionate, as stubborn as her stepfather -- is determined at any cost to win her return passage. But she has taken on far more than she expected. James McCairn, Laird of Clan McCairn, is no cultured gentleman but a strapping, rough-mannered farmer, rude and brusque. There are pigeons roosting in the kitchen and chickens in the bedroom. Marriage is the last thing on his mind...
Like many recent heroines of historical romance, Temperance O'Neil, turn-of-the-century New York women's rights activist, doesn't think she needs a man. The beautiful, resourceful 29-year-old has conquered politicians and audiences, even the mayor, but in 1909 men control the purse strings, so she must move to Scotland when her mother marries dour Angus McCairn. Angus soon cuts a deal with his willful stepdaughter: she can have her financial freedom and return to New York if she finds a wife for his nephew, James. Posing as James's new housekeeper, Temperance heads to his estate in the Highlands, not knowing that according to his father's will, James must marry for love before his fast-approaching 35th birthday. Other surprises await her, too. Beneath his rough exterior, James happens to be an attractive, educated, amusing, sensitive man. The Scottish Cold Comfort Farm where he tends sheep has fallen on hard times, but a treasure, hidden somewhere on the premises, promises riches galore. Fannie Farmer cookbook in hand, Temperance whips the old castle into shape, launches a millinery business for the town widow, delivers baby lambs and shares temper tantrums and passionate sex with the laird. Trouble threatens when James's ex-girlfriend reappears on the scene claiming to know where the treasure is hidden, but Temperance has handled bigger problems before. This is not the first time Deveraux (High Tide, etc.) has set a romance in the Highlands or found humor in the city slicker who tames the wilds. Here, too, she delights in the corny clashing of Temperance's modern professionalism and James's archaic near-feudal existence. Deveraux knows that the lively pace and happy endings she has delivered with relentless consistency since 1976 will keep loyal readers turning pages fast enough to overlook any lapses of accuracy, subtlety or freshness.