It is l909 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...
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May 01, 2001
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Excerpt from Temptation by Jude Deveraux
"And in conclusion, ladies... and gentlemen..." There was a murmur of amusement in the big auditorium, for there were very few men who attended Temperance O'Neil's lectures. They couldn't stand to hear the truth of what Temperance said, couldn't stand to hear and see what they had done to the American family.
"I say that the fight must continue, that we have not yet begun to make inroads into this problem, but we mustn't give up. We must continue!"
At that Temperance stepped back from the podium and dropped her head so only the wide wheel of her trademark hat could be seen. It was an instant before the women could get to their feet and start applauding. Looking up, Temperance gave them a dazzling smile; then slowly and with humility, she walked off the stage.
"You were wonderful," said Agnes Spinnaker as she put a small hand on Temperance's shoulder. "As always."
"Let's just hope it did some good," Temperance said as she twitched the curtain aside and looked out at the audience again. They were still on their feet, still clapping hard.
"You have to go back out," Agnes said loudly so she could be heard over the noise of the crowd. "You have to say something more. Do you have anything planned?"
"Oh, I have something planned, all right," Temperance said as she began pulling long pins from her hat. "Hold these, will you? I don't want anyone to get hurt."
"What in the world are you going to do?"
"Watch," Temperance said as she pushed aside the curtain, then went back onto the stage. As she stepped up on the little box that held the podium, she waited for the applause to die down; then when the room was quiet, she waited another few seconds. No one sat down, but the three hundred or so women stood in place, their hands ready to start clapping again; for whatever Temperance said, they were ready to applaud.
In the absolute quiet of the auditorium, Temperance looked down at the oak lectern in front of her, as though she were looking at notes and about to read from them.