Through the FirePublication Date March 11, 2016
by Elizabeth Johns
Genres: Historical Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: Scotland Written for: Adults
When two people have walked through fire, can love bring the healing and help they need?
Spurned by love, Lady Margaux Ashbury has no use for the other eligible gentlemen of London. Despite her beauty, her sharp tongue soon earns her a reputation as a dragon. Convincing her parents to let her retreat to their Scottish estate, a home for abandoned young women, Margaux feels she can do something meaningful with her life. At their wits' end, her parents believe a few months in seclusion will teach her to appreciate her privileged existence, and accept the next gentleman of worth who offers for her. Margaux has no plans to yield. But neither she nor her parents bargain for the proximity of the gorgeous, blue-eyed Scotsman on the neighbouring estate.
Gavin Craig, content with his life as a country doctor, is unexpectedly thrust into the world of aristocratic society after the accidental deaths of his brother and nephews. With all the duties his new title entails, and his adoption of three orphans, Gavin desperately needs a wife. She should preferably be a lady, trained since birth to manage a noble house, servants and family. His former disdain for a marriage of convenience has been rapidly overcome by the colossal task of learning to run a large Scottish barony. One lovely candidate is right next door … except that she's inexplicably determined to be a spinster…
Gavin looked at the letter in his hand in utter disbelief. His heart was tearing in two. His brother, wife, and children had been killed when their carriage had slipped down the side of a cliff.
“This canna be true.” He shook his head and fought back tears.
“I am afraid it is, my lord.”
“My lord? No. I doona wish for it. I’m a simple country doctor. I have a humble life and practice here.”
“I am terribly sorry for your loss, my lord. But you are, in fact, the eleventh Baron Craig now, and thus have some rather large holdings that are your responsibility.”
“This was not supposed to happen. Iain had three strapping young lads!”
The solicitor looked grave. “Perhaps, my lord, it would be best for you to return to Castle Craig and see for yourself.”
The solicitor was met with a blank stare from a set of startling blue eyes; a look that was common to those who had been met with grievous news, but who had not yet assimilated the ensuing change in circumstances.
“Verra well. I will join you there as soon as I have made arrangements.”
Gavin went through the motions of closing up his house and seeing his practice into the capable hands of his apprentice, a graduate of Lord Easton’s school. Of late, Gavin had taken many trips into England to the school in Sussex and had toyed with joining it as an instructor on a full-time basis, but he had never been able to cut ties with Scotland. How would he practice medicine as Lord Craig? He would have to find a way, while at the same time doing his best to carry on with his brother’s works in Parliament.
Gavin had seen more death than most, but he had not been prepared for the loss of his brother, or of Iain’s wife and children. They had been the last family he’d had left. He had never before given a thought to running the large Castle Craig estate, and hoped desperately that his brother had appointed a trustworthy steward.
His carriage was loaded with immediate necessities. His servants would send the rest of his belongings with those of his staff who wished to join him at the new residence. He had one final stop before setting off to bury his brother and begin his new life.
“What are you pondering, mon chere?” Margaux heard her mother ask.
“Very little, Maman,” she remarked, as they sat darning socks for some of the children. Her parents had remained with her, hopeful to change her mind.
“We are having a guest for dinner tonight. Someone interested in contributing to the orphans.”
“Très bien,” she said absent-mindedly. Guests were a normal occurrence with her parents.
“You should wear the emerald satin—bring some colour to your face, non?”
“If you wish, Maman.” Margaux cared little for what she wore these days.
“Allons y.” Lady Ashbury stood and directed her daughter to do the same. “I will see you at dinner.”
Lady Margaux went through the motions of dressing. Her maid arranged her hair in a manner worthy of a ball, she noticed. She had to admit she had been experiencing a mild case of the dismals. Once she established a routine here she would come out of it, she was certain. She had never been one to sulk, but she needed to find something useful to occupy her time. No, she corrected her thoughts. To make a new life.
She made her way downstairs, determined to be more cheerful. If she could only convince her parents she was happy here, then they would be satisfied she was content.
“Ah, there she is now, Lord Craig,” Lord Ashbury said as he saw her.
“Dr. Craig?” Margaux said, stunned as she met the eyes of the handsome doctor who had been enamoured of Lady Beatrice.
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