One Night with the Laird

A night of no return…
Lady Mairi MacLeod is young and beautiful, and fashionable Edinburgh’s most flirtatious hostess. But within the merry widow beats a grieving heart and she mourns the loss of her husband and the secrets she must keep. Desperately seeking to forget, she spends one night with Jack Rutherford, an accomplished rake, but their wanton night together is an encounter of the body only, and Lady Mairi would prefer to forget it.

A strong protector…
When Mairi is threatened by blackmail, Jack is the only man who can help her. As they work together to uncover where the danger lies, their passion reignites. Little by little, the masks they wear burn away, and their most private secrets come to light.

Learn More About the Scottish Brides series

“Nicola Cornick is a talented, consistent writer and I like escaping into her world.The Scottish Brides series has an undercurrent of mystery that I really enjoy.”

— Heroes and Heartbreakers

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She was staring. She chided herself for it and took a deep breath to steady herself.

He executed a perfect bow. “Lady Mairi.”

There was no apology for interrupting her, no reference to the fact that he had explicitly ignored her desire for solitude. In Edinburgh she had been the one who had driven their encounter. Now that seemed absurd. Jack Rutherford was far too forceful to be anything other than in control. His easy charm cloaked a will of steel.

“Mr. Rutherford,” Mairi said, matching his indifference with a chilly civility of her own.

His gaze brushed her face. There was no recognition at all in his eyes.

He did not know. He had not realized that she was the woman with whom he had spent that one wicked night.

Relief weakened her knees and she almost had to grab the table for support. Disturbingly, beneath the sense of reassurance were other emotions. She identified disappointment and realized that everything that was feminine within her wanted him to remember her.

Madness. She should be happy to have got away with it. She should be grateful and relieved, anything but this vain and foolish dissatisfaction.

“How do you do, sir?” she said. “I hope you are well.”

Jack’s mouth twisted as though to suggest that he knew the words were no more than a commonplace courtesy. He did not even trouble to reply.

“I understand that you will be traveling to Methven for the christening of your nephew,” he said. His gaze was moving about the room as though he had no particular desire to look at her. “I am here to offer my escort.”

He was here about Ewan’s christening. Mairi felt simultaneously relieved to understand the reason for his visit and deeply irritated that his offer had been made in such an offhand manner.

“How kind,” she said. Then, stung to sarcasm by his indifference: “I had no notion you desired my company so much.”

His gaze came back to her, cool hazel, remote. “The offer is made is at my cousin’s request, madam, rather than my own inclination.”

“Of course,” Mairi said. “I knew it would not be your choice.” She smiled at him, equally cool. “Please tell Lord Methven that I appreciate his thoughtfulness but I will make my own arrangements.”

Jack nodded. She could tell he was not going to try to persuade her to change her mind, presumably because escorting her to Methven Castle was the very last thing on earth that he wanted to do. Everything about his demeanor suggested that he wished to be gone from her drawing room and preferably her life. She could understand that. While she could think of nothing but their wicked night together, Jack still thought of her as a woman who had rejected his advances and treated him with disdain, a woman he was unfortunately bound to through their mutual relatives.

If only he knew. The irony of it almost made her smile.

“Goodbye, Mr. Rutherford,” she said. “It is fortunate that Methven Castle is large enough that we need see little of each other during our stay.”

She picked up the secateurs again, gripping the cool metal tightly against her hot palm.

In a moment he would be gone.

Jack’s gaze fell on the roses with their deep red petals. They looked rich and vibrant against the sun-warmed wood of the table. The sunshine slanted light and shadow across his face, accentuating the high cheekbones and the hard jaw. Mairi felt her heart skip a beat. He looked up and met her eyes, and her heart jolted again for fear that she could not hide her reaction to him.

“My grandmother would like those flowers,” Jack said, surprising her. “She adores roses. Do you grow them here?”

“In the walled garden,” Mairi said. She touched the petals lightly. “These were cultivated specially and named after me—Mairi Rose…” She stopped, catching herself, remembering that in Edinburgh that night she had told him her name was Rose.

Jack did not appear to have noticed. His head was bent as he considered the flowers. He did not move.

After a second Mairi’s breath came more easily. She walked toward the door and put her hand on the knob again, pulling it wider in a clear signal that it was time for Jack to leave.

“Good day, sir,” she said sharply.

Jack looked up and met her eyes.

Her heart stopped at what she saw there. The cool indifference was gone. In its place she saw incredulity and anger and a fierce heat that made her breath catch.

“Rose,” Jack repeated, very softly.

The tight, breathless sensation in Mairi’s chest intensified. The doorknob slipped against her damp palm. She felt a craven urge to make a dash for the stairs, to run, to hide. Except that there was nowhere to hide.

“I believe,” she said, and her voice was now no more than a thin thread of sound, “that you were leaving, Mr. Rutherford.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed, his gaze intensifying on her. She felt another shiver chase down her spine. Then he smiled.

“Actually,” he said, still very quietly, “I don’t think I was.”

He came across and leaned past her to place a palm against the drawing room door and closed it very firmly.

End of Excerpt

One Night with the Laird

is available in the following formats:
North American Edition

October 1, 2013 · Harlequin · ISBN 13: 978-0373777907 · ISBN 10: 0373777906

Connected Books

All of the books in the Scottish Brides Series:

Behind the Book

Nicola on Fair Isle
The Old Town

So many different elements came together in the background to One Night With The Laird. Firstly there was the beautiful city of Edinburgh, one of my favourite places in the world. From the elegance of the Georgian New Town to the winding narrow streets of the Old, I have tried to put a little bit of the flavour of Edinburgh into the book.

Then there was Mairi’s country house, Ardglen, which is based on the 17th century house of Newhailes, just outside Edinburgh. I visited Newhailes last summer and loved its shabby splendour. Newhailes retains much of its original décor including 18th century Chinese wallpaper and Italian Marble fireplaces. It’s s stunning building with a very strong historic atmosphere and to stroll through the rooms and admire the fine paintings and exquisite decoration is to step back in time.

The North Haven
Newhailes, a 17th century house just outside of Edinburgh

One of my favourite bits to write was Mairi’s journey from Edinburgh to the West Highlands. I love travelling that road and imagining that in the early 19th century it would have been even more lonely but just as beautiful as it is today. Mairi travels to Torridon on the West coast and this is one of my favourite parts of Scotland and a place I visit almost every year. The magnificent scenery and wild landscapes made it the perfect setting for Methven Castle and the drama that unfolds there. I hope you will enjoy the trip!

Acclaim

Reviews for One Night with the Laird

“Nicola Cornick is a talented, consistent writer and I like escaping into her world.The Scottish Brides series has an undercurrent of mystery that I really enjoy.”

“One Night with the Laird has all the things I love in a historical - a notorious rake, a scandalous liaison, and a nefarious villain. Not to mention an absolutely smoldering opening scene.”

5 Stars

“A passionate and sensual love story, memorable characters, a compelling plot and great writing make One Night With The Laird a highly recommended read.”

4.5 stars!

“A total delight... A romance lovers dream come true!”

4.5 Blue Ribbons!

“Sensual, seductive, charismatic, One Night With The Laird is passionate historical reading you won't soon forget.”

“The scandalous widow and rakish laird make quite a pair in Cornick's sexy, funny, romp of a romance. The delightful love-hate relationship and the manner in which they bait one another through witty dialogue and amusing situations is sure to bring a smile to readers' lips. But there is also poignancy and sweetness in this second of Cornick's Scottish Brides series that will touch readers' hearts.”