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Highlander in Disguise [Anglais] [Relié]

Julia London


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Description de l'ouvrage

février 2007
Griffin Lockhart holds the key to his family's fate. Since his brother Liam failed to reclaim the priceless heirloom that could save their ancestral Scottish estate, it's now up to Grif to find it -- among the lords and ladies of fashionable London society.
Disguised as a Scottish earl, Grif attends the most glittering balls, hunting for the woman who is rumored to possess his family's treasure. Along the way he catches the eye of Anna Addison, a highborn young woman whose sharp tongue and even sharper wits have limited her marital prospects but enable her to detect Grif's deception. Determined to find a husband this Season, Anna draws Grif into a scandalous bargain: She will deliver his precious heirloom -- and keep secret his true identity -- if Grif can teach her how to seduce a man and win his heart. Well aware of what a man wants from a woman, Grif reluctantly instructs her. Soon Anna is besieged by suitors and Grif's exasperation with the troublesome beauty turns into heated desire. With time running out, Grif commits a reckless act in order to claim not only his treasure, but the passionate woman he believes is his and his alone.
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

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Chapter One

Talla Dileas, near Loch Chon, The Trossachs of the Scottish Highlands

1817


They needed money. Banknotes or coin, it mattered not, just so long as there was plenty of it.

All seven Lockharts agreed that they had no choice but to return to England and attempt to find the ancient family treasure, a solid gold beastie with ruby eyes, to stave off certain ruin. They would not, however, dispatch Liam to fetch it.

That had been their first blunder -- Liam had returned from London with a woman and a bonny young lass. But not the beastie.

No, this time, Liam's younger -- and dandier -- brother, Grif, would go.

Yet Aila, the lady of Lockhart, had reservations about a second attempt at retrieving the beastie. "'Tis certain disaster," she said as the family reviewed their latest scheme at the supper table. "We tempt fate, as we've no' the slightest notion where the beastie may be. We know nothing other than Lady Battenkirk took the blasted thing!"

"And gave it to Amelia," Ellie, Liam's bride, pleasantly reminded the lot of them.

Everyone paused to look at Ellie as she blithely continued her meal.

That was because Ellie had stolen the beastie from beneath Liam's nose, then sold the priceless ornamental statue for a paltry amount to a Londoner she'd encountered in a small shop of knickknacks and household wares in Cambridge. Now, the only thing they knew for certain was that the Londoner's name was Lady Battenkirk, and that Lady Battenkirk had said at the time of purchase that she intended to give the beastie to her friend Amelia. That was it -- the sum total of what they knew about the precious statue. Everything else was wildly imaginative conjecture.

But Grif was confident in his ability to bring the beastie home, and affectionately squeezed his mother's hand. "Liam went as a soldier, no' a gentleman, like me. He was ill-suited to acquaint himself with society, whereas I am perfect for it."

"Society!" Liam muttered. "Ye can have the bloody lot of them!"

Liam, a captain in the Highland Regiments, was, kindly speaking, a little rough around the edges. And while Grif could be just as rough if push came to shove (he was, after all, born and bred a Highlander), he fancied the life of a high-society gentleman, a desire that had been firmly entrenched after two years of university in Edinburgh.

That had been, by his measure, an eternity ago, when the family had means, before they began to buy out the tenants who could no longer support Talla Dileas, the remote family estate in the Highlands near Loch Chon. When Grif returned home five years ago, it was to a different place, where crofter's cottages stood empty and the old mansion had begun to fall into a state of disrepair. The situation had only worsened -- not a fortnight past, the roof over the original kitchen had collapsed, and they could do nothing but board it up.

Grif missed his former life on Charlotte Square, where he and his lifelong best friend, Hugh MacAlister -- who was seated across from him now, trying gamely to swallow the stuff in his bowl -- had been the most popular of the young gentlemen vying for the attentions of the debutantes. The prospect of London -- London! -- was perfect for a young man such as himself.

"Aye, Aila, what choice do we have, then?" Carson, the laird of Lockhart, asked wearily. "We've no tenants to pay rents, the cattle are so few in number as to be laughable, and we lose money each day. All around us are sheep that graze the Highlands much easier than the blessed cattle. If we donna do something rather soon, the sheep will put us in debtors' prison, they will."

He spoke true. For all their misgivings, one fact remained indisputable -- the beastie, that ancient piece of valuable art, the one thing that the English and Scottish Lockharts had continued to feud over the last several hundred years (in spite of the family chronicles showing quite clearly that it rightfully belonged to the Scottish Lockharts, thank you), was the key to their survival. Only it had been stolen back and forth for centuries, and their damnable English cousins had last pilfered it around the time of the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Since then, it had languished in a fine London salon, a trophy for the English Lockharts.

But the English Lockharts were quite wealthy. They didn't need it. The Scottish Lockharts, on the other hand, needed it desperately.

"Ye have me word," Grif said to his mother, "that I'll no' skip merrily to London and hie meself home again with a wife and bairn -- "

"I beg your pardon!" Ellie interjected, as she was the wife Liam had hied himself home with, along with her daughter, Natalie.

"Forgive me, Ellie," Grif said, turning from his mother and instantly grabbing Ellie's hand and bringing her knuckles to his lips. "Ye know I adore ye, but ye're no' exactly what we had hoped for, are ye now?"

"Oh no -- Liam has made it perfectly clear that I'm not," she admitted cheerfully.

"But Grandfather says we are much better than that old beastie," Natalie sniffed, earning a tweak of her cheek from Carson.

"Of course ye are, Nattie," Grif quickly reassured her. "And we'd no' have it any other way...but if only ye'd come to us without selling the beastie -- "

"Honestly, Grif!" This interruption from Mared, the Lockharts' only daughter. "Ellie's atoned for it, has she no'? She single-handedly turned ye into a gentleman -- "

"I beg yer pardon -- I was a gentleman long before our Ellie walked through this door, if ye please!"

"Aye, but ye canna deny she's taught ye to dance and to walk and to talk like a proper English gentleman, as well as taught ye all their customs!"

"Aye, she has, indeed," Grif grudgingly admitted.

"And the letters of introduction she's penned for ye -- why, they're brilliant, they are!"

"Thank you," Ellie said, clearly pleased.

"Ye think it is easy, then, to introduce Griffin MacAulay, laird of Ardencaple?" Mared demanded.

"That name..." Hugh said thoughtfully. "I donna understand why ye willna go as yerself, Grif. What harm can come of it? It all seems a wee bit complicated."

"Ach, now," Liam said gruffly. "Is it no' as plain as the nose on yer face, then, MacAlister? Look here, I traveled to London and let it be known that I was a disgruntled outcast from the Scottish Lockharts, and thereby managed to ingratiate meself to our cousin Nigel. But then the beastie was stolen, and before I could set it all to rights, I was forced to depart abruptly" -- that remark prompted everyone to look at Ellie again, who colored slightly -- "so we canna be entirely certain if the English Lockharts know the beastie is even missing, can we now? And if they do know she's missing, have they connected her disappearance to me? Or worse, perhaps they might be prodded into making a connection if they discover me very own brother in London. 'Tis all quite simple, lad!"

But Hugh shook his head in confusion. "Aye...but have ye no' forgotten one thing, Liam? Grif looks like ye! How can he hide it?"

"He's right," Aila agreed, looking at her son Grif. "If Nigel Lockhart lays eyes on ye, he might very well recognize Liam in ye."

Liam snorted at that. "No, Mother, Cousin Nigel is a bloody sot. He'd no' recognize his own toe without help, I'd wager. And there is difference enough between us -- if Grif has a different name, Cousin Nigel will no' put it all together. Of that I'm bloody certain."

"I'd no' be so certain," Aila said warily. "Ye know what they say of the beastie -- she'll 'slip through the fingers of a Scot, for she's English at heart.'"

"Hogwash," Carson said. "I put no more stock in that than I do Mared's curse," he said, waving his hand dismissively at his daughter.

Mared colored instantly and stole a sheepish glance at Hugh, embarrassed by the medieval curse, which stemmed from the tragedy of the condemned first lady of Lockhart. The daughter of that unfortunate woman was cursed with her mother's shame and her father's hatred, and took her own life in 1454. Since then, and for reasons that were no longer clear, it was said that no daughter of a Lockhart would ever marry until she looked into the belly of the beast -- or faced the devil, as it were. And it was true that no daughter had ever married -- some were never offered for, and those who did receive offers died or watched their lovers die before a betrothal could take place. Wiser heads argued that the deaths were merely a coincidence, the result of human carelessness. But most in and around these lochs believed the deaths were the work of the diabhal, the devil himself, and that Mared, the first daughter born to a Lockhart in almost one hundred years, was cursed.

"This plan is really much better than the last, Mother," Mared said now, before Carson could say more about the curse. "And we've thought it all through, have we no'?"

They had indeed carefully thought it through. They knew that Grif could only succeed in finding the beastie if he had money, had entry into society, and a place to reside that would convince the haute ton that he was legitimate, even if he had assumed a false and rather lofty identify.

"And all the obstacles have been resolved, have they no'?" Mared continued.

No one could dispute it -- Mared and Griffin had pored over old books and family trees until they finally landed on the fictitious Lord Griffin MacAulay, laird of Ardencaple, a title that was passed to the duke of Argyll one hundred years prior and was later abolished by the duke as redundant. There was nothing left of Ardencaple now save a few crofters. "Ardencaple. Who could possibly know that old name?" Grif had laughed.

Once his identity was established, Liam and Ellie took over, schooling Grif daily on the habits and haunts of London society and many social protocols. They enlisted Dudley, the Lockharts' longtime butl... --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

Revue de presse

"Exquisitely romantic, lusciously sensual."
-- Booklist --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Poche .

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  18 commentaires
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A pleasant surprise! 14 mars 2005
Par M. DETWILER - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I hadn't read the previous Highlander book (don't like heroines who have kids, shame on me) so when I picked Highlander in Disguise, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very fast read. I couldn't put it down. Grif, the hero, is yummy. I loved him. He was the prototypical hero--manly, but not overly so. Anna, the heroine, was good too. I have found that in my favorite romances, the hero is usually the one that makes it a keeper for me. The girl has to be good, too, but it's the guy who decides it. Grif did--big time. He was great. Anna was okay. I liked her, and when she did start to veer off into "I don't think I'm going to like her" territory, London would have her do something that got her back on track for me. I ended up liking her. And the verbal exchanges between Anna and Grif were hilarious. I laughed out loud more than once. The interplay between Grif and his "valet" were enjoyable also. In short, I really liked this book. I know I will be reading it again, especially before the next book in the series comes out. It features Grif's sister and it looks like a good one, too.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 entertaining Regency romance 25 janvier 2005
Par Harriet Klausner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
After Liam Lockhart failed to regain the beastie, he married the woman who stole the valuable artifact back from him (see HIGHLANDER UNBOUND). The quest falls to his younger brother, Griffin. However, Griff lacks funding to spend any time in London even with his using the home of his best friend's grandmother while she vacations in France. He borrows heavily from his neighbor whose usury interest will cripple the lad if he fails to remit within a year to fund his search for an unknown Amelia, who allegedly bought the beastie from Lady Battenkirk who had purchased it from Liam's wife.

Anna Whittington hopes that Drake Lockhart will ask for her hand in marriage, but he seems more interested in her beautiful younger sister. Meanwhile she wonders about this so-called wealthy Scot who asks questions about her cousin, Lady Battenkirk and anyone named Amelia especially since he looks so much like last year's wealthy Scot Laird. Anna investigates and learns that Griff is an impoverished fake. She blackmails him into teaching her how to seduce Drake, but soon desires her mentor instead; he finds the beastie means little now that he is deeply in love with his troublesome student.

This entertaining Regency romance uses a theme that has been employed in many historical romances, yet the talented Julia London makes it feel as if this is the first time that an innocent asks to be trained in seduction graces a tale. The story line is fun as Griff knows from the first moment he meets Anna that her name spells trouble. This charming couple provides a solid gender war tale that readers will appreciate.

Harriet Klausner
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Very sensual romance with witty dialogue and some laughs 8 janvier 2007
Par Elena Blackthorne - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
I must admit that I really enjoyed this book, primarily because of the Grif character and his interplay with Anna.

My favorite part of the book was where Grif warns Anna about wearing low cut gowns and says it will prompt a gentleman to have his way with her. He's too clever. When she dismisses that idea, he tells her that some men are very good at giving a woman pleasure without ruining her good name. He also tells her that she will beg him for more. Under the guise of giving her a "lesson" he then proceeds to have his way with her and pleasures her (keeping his trousers buttoned up of course).

There are true fireworks between these two from the start. The relationship grows from intense dislike and irritation, to grudging acceptance to love during Anna's pygmalion-like transformation under Grif's tutelage. Having obtained the beastie she knows Grif seeks, Anna blackmails Grif into tutoring her how to seduce another man whom she wants to marry. Grif finds he has done his job too well, however, as Drake, who had previously ignored Anna, now declares his love. Anna is disappointed in Drake's kiss, which leaves her cold in contrast to Grif's buring hot kisses which melt her.

Anna does eventually beg Grif for "more" all while telling him that she intends to marry Drake if he asks her. Although he hasn't declared his feelings for her, Grif is hurt and incensed, accuses her of using him, and tells her he will not pleasure her like a whore while she marries another man.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Long dragged out bore 8 juin 2007
Par Quillen-Gesell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
At first this book really grabbed my attention. I was looking forward to reading it and Grif was, and is still, a great character.

Sadly, this book dragged on far too long for me. Highlander in Disguise is 374 pages. I gave up reading around page 300 when Grif and Anna were still NOT together. Over 300 pages of nothing isn't worth another 74. I can take a guess at what happens anyway. They finally get together. Finally. It is not even worth finishing if it is only 74 pages after a 300 page wait. Even if it's page 301 where they finally get together- too late. Don't care. They get together, kiss, blah blah blah. Not worth it anymore. I don't even care if they got the 'bloody beastie' or not.

I also felt as if Grif deserved a heroine more mature and less shelfish than Anna. She got on my nerves quite a bit.

If you like a book to ruin your expectations and make you go from wonderment to disappointment, then be my guest and read this one.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Missing Chemistry 9 octobre 2006
Par JJC - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Poche
This was my first London book and it was a good read. I thought the H/H worked fairly well together. I liked the seduction part - her coming to him for lessons in exchange for the beastie to save his family. But overall there chemistry was lacking. This could have been much better than it was. I felt like I never really got to know the characters. I never felt draw into the story. The whole book felt like it was leading up to something and then there was nothing. This book was not a page turner or a keeper for me but overall it was ok.

I found Griff's and Anna's characters to be a little on the bland side. There seemed to be no spark to either one. And the longing for each other 3/4 of the way through the book I felt was not expressed enough for me to care. I wished London would have delved deeper into her characters to make them more interesting. But overall it was decent.
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