captures the thrill of an American beauty's Highlands wedding, where a royal title is at stake -- and where love wins the day.
Claire Willoughby risked losing millions in her inheritance if, as decreed by her grandfather, she did not wed an "acceptable" man. Harry Montgomery, the eleventh Duke of MacArran, seemed perfect. He owned a historic castle, he looked manly in a kilt, and he was as much a titled Scotsman as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.
Their engagement announced, Claire's future as a duchess was assured -- and she set off with her family to meet the Montgomery clan in Scotland. Bramley Castle was a damp, chill place, overþowing with eccentric relatives. But there was also Trevelyan, a secretive, brooding man who lived in Bramley's ancient halls. Whoever he was, he wasn't at all like Harry: Trevelyan was the most exasperating, arrogant, know-it-all of a man Claire had ever met. And the most fascinating...
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December 31, 1990
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Excerpt from The Duchess by Jude Deveraux
Miss Claire Willoughby fell in love with Harry, the Eleventh Duke of MacArran, the first time she saw him -- as did every other woman in the drawing room. But it wasn't just the incredible beauty of the man that made Claire love him. It wasn't his shoulders, which were the width of a garden-hoe handle, or his thick blond hair and brilliant blue eyes. Nor was it his legs, well muscled from years of riding unruly horses, and exposed to their best advantage beneath the brilliant green kilt. No, it wasn't what she saw that made her sway on her feet: it was what she heard.
At the sight of the kilt, with the silver-topped sporran hanging from his waist, the ivory-handled dirk in his heavy sock, the tartan thrown over one shoulder and pinned with the laird's badge, she heard a lone man playing the bagpipes. She heard the wind across the fields of heather and the drone of the pipes. She heard the guns of Culloden and the cries of the widows as they grieved for their fallen men. She heard the shouts of joy at victory; the silence of misery at defeat. She heard the sound of hope at the rise of Bonnie Prince Charlie and heard the despair when he was defeated. She heard the treachery of the Campbells, and she heard the long, long wail of pain of the Scots in their centuries-old battle against the English.
All the sounds echoed in her head as she watched Harry, this man descended from generations of MacArran lairds, walk across the room. The other women saw only an incredibly handsome, dashing young man, but Claire looked beyond that and saw what she heard. She could imagine this blond giant sitting at the head of a heavy oak table, a silver goblet in his hand, flickering firelight reflected on his face as he called on his men to follow him. Here was a leader of men.