Unlaced by the Highland Duke

By: Lara Temple

A plain Regency governess


In bed with the duke!

Part of The Lochmore Legacy: a Scottish castle through the ages! Unceremoniously packed off to Scotland to care for the Duke of Lochmore’s young son, practical widow Joane Langdale fears she will be ignored as always. But the deep connection and heated passion that develops between her and Benneit is far more dangerous! When Benneit is expected to propose to another, how dare Jo dream of becoming his duchess?







Chapter One


London—1815

‘Lady Theale is here, Your Grace.’

Benneit didn’t know what was worse—those words or the explosion of light that struck him as Angus hauled back the curtains. He groaned on both counts.

‘Aye,’ Angus replied and positioned himself at the bottom of the bed. With his scarred face he looked like one of the gargoyles carved on to the embattlements at Lochmore Castle come to perch by Benneit’s bed to remind him of his duty. Benneit shoved his head into his pillow.

‘What the devil does she want?’

‘Jamie.’

Benneit tossed the covers aside and scraped himself off the bed.

‘Over my dead, drawn, quartered and pickled body.’

Angus grunted. ‘Aye, lad. Shall I shave you?’

It was more a suggestion than a question and, instinctively, Benneit dragged his hand over his jaw, wincing at the rasp.

‘No. She shall have to accept me in all my glory. What time is it?’

‘It is gone nine in the morning.’

‘Nine? Nine? I’ve barely slept three hours. What the devil is wrong with that woman?’

Angus’s scarred face twisted into a momentary and awful grin.

‘You can sleep when you’re dead, Your Grace.’

It was Benneit’s turn to grunt as he dragged off his nightshirt and went to the basin. There was a brutality to Angus sometimes and whether he meant to allude to Bella or not, it struck up her image, interred in the Lochmore family crypt. Eventually Benneit would be there, too. A fate worse than death... He breathed in to calm the reflexive queasiness at the thought, reminding himself that when that day came he would at least know nothing of it.

‘Send Jamie to her until I’m ready—if he’s awake. After half an hour of his undiluted company she might think twice about this campaign to take him to Uxmore.’

‘He’s down there now, lad.’

Benneit wiped the water from his face and glanced at Angus, meeting the twinkle in the giant’s blue eyes.

‘Great minds thing alike, eh, Angus?’

‘When they think at all, Your Grace.’

Benneit sighed and returned to the freezing water.





* * *



‘Good morning, Lady Theale.’

‘You need a shave, Lochmore.’

Benneit stopped, gathered himself and the comment hovering at the tip of his tongue, and proceeded.

‘Had I been given more warning of your arrival I would have obliged.’

‘Had you been given more warning of our arrival you would have been halfway to the border by now.’

Benneit advanced on the elderly lady seated in his favourite armchair, plucked her weathered hand from where it rested on her cane and raised it to his lips.

‘No, only as far as Potter’s Bar. Not even for you would I set off before dawn.’

She sniggered and gave his face a small slap before he straightened.

He turned to search the room for his son and stopped. The word ‘our’ hadn’t registered at first, but now it did. Jamie was seated on the sofa, his stockinged feet drawn up under him, and on the other side of his favourite book of maps was a woman.

‘Papa, she’s helped me find Muck!’ Jamie announced, bouncing a little on his knees.

‘Did she? That is indeed impressive. But can she help you find Foula? Good morning, Mrs Langdale.’

‘Your Grace.’

Her voice was deep, but as bland as her grey wool dress—flat and without inflection. During Bella’s Season six years ago Mrs Langdale, then Miss Watkins, wore Bella’s cast-offs and, being shorter and less endowed, she always looked like a scrawny hen rolled in a bed of shredded peacock feathers—those ostentatious clothes coupled with her unremarkable looks had not been a good combination. She was unremarkable except for her deep grey eyes that Bella had laughingly called the ‘orbs of truth’.

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