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The Taming of a Scottish Princess [Mass Market Paperback]

Karen Hawkins

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Book Description

May 22 2012 The Mysterious Hurst Amulet
The mystery of the Hurst Amulet is revealed! New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins pits a world-renowned explorer against his strong-willed assistant as they pursue a long-lost treasure.

A DETERMINED EXPLORER

When famed Egyptologist Michael Hurst discovers that the infamous Hurst Amulet is hidden in Scotland, he insists his trusted assistant, Miss Jane Smythe-Haughton, accompany him north. Strangely, the usually unflappable Jane seems perturbed by their destination—the mysterious Isle of Barra. A fascinated Michael watches as his staid assistant transforms, revealing intriguing layers of mystery and vulnerability. Could he be about to uncover not one, but two, precious treasures?

A DAUNTLESS PRINCESS

Once her clan’s princess, Jane fled Barra years ago to avoid a forced marriage. Since then, she has made her living as efficient Miss Smythe-Haughton—the perfect (and highly paid) assistant. Now she must confront her secrets . . . including her feelings for her irascible employer, too-handsome-for-his-own-good Michael Hurst.

A PERILOUS PLEASURE

Others are also searching for the missing amulet, however. Can Jane and Michael learn to trust each other in time to solve two riddles: the location of the Hurst Amulet, and the meaning of the vivid passion flaring between them?

Frequently Bought Together

The Taming of a Scottish Princess + A Most Dangerous Profession + Scandal in Scotland
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (May 22 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439175950
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439175958
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.7 x 3.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #334,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Karen Hawkins is the USA TODAY bestselling author of a dozen historical romance novels. When not stalking hot Australian actors, getting kicked out of West Virginia thanks to the antics of her extended family, and adding to her considerable shoe collection, Karen spends her time writing her next delightfully fun and sexy book. She lives in Florida. Please visit her website at KarenHawkins.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

a>CHAPTER 1

From the diary of Michael Hurst, famous explorer and Egyptologist:

Finally, I have the entire treasure map in my possession—the one that will lead us to the lost Hurst Amulet, which was taken from my family so many centuries ago. I was certain the map revealed the final clue to the amulet’s location and I was ready to proceed thus. Or I was until my blasted assistant, the redoubtable Miss Jane Smythe-Haughton, made a completely unrequested observation that I was “anything but well versed in this particular form of cartography” and I should have an expert examine the bloody thing.

Her distrust in my knowledge is as large as it is abiding. However, I’m now forced to prove myself, so I’m having the map reviewed by a renowned expert. Once I receive confirmation that my theory is correct, we will begin the final quest for the amulet. After, of course, I finish mocking Jane to hell and back for her disbelief in my profound and infallible map-reading abilities.

London, England

October 12, 1822

Michael Hurst ignored the stir of excitement that flowed across the ballroom at his entrance. “Damn fools,” he muttered, tugging on his cravat.

His sister Mary sent him an exasperated glance. “Leave that alone.”

“It’s choking me.”

“It’s fashionable and you must look presentable.” At his annoyed glare, she added in an earnest tone, “Michael, this ballroom is full of potential investors for your expeditions.”

Potential headaches were what they were. “I’m here, aren’t I?” he asked irritably. “Where’s that damned refreshment table? If I’m going to face these monkeys, I’ll need a drink.”

“They’re not monkeys, but lovely women who—” She caught his expression and grimaced. “Perhaps a drink will improve your spirits. Lady Bellforth usually sets the refreshment table by the library doors.”

He nodded and stepped in that direction. As if in answer to that one step, fans and lashes fluttered, seemingly hoping to trap him in a gossamer hold. “For the love of Ra,” he said through gritted teeth, “don’t they have anything better to do than stare?”

“You’re famous,” Mary said calmly.

“I don’t wish to be famous.”

“But you are, so you’ll just have to live with it.” She placed a hand on his arm. “Just smile and nod and we’ll make our way through this crowd in no time at all.”

“Smiling won’t work, but this will.” He scowled instead, noticing with glee that several of the flowery fans stopped fluttering.

“Michael, you can’t—”

He placed his hand firmly under her elbow and led her into the crowd, scowling at first one hopeful-looking miss and then another. They blushed, then sagged, as if he’d stabbed their empty little hearts.

Mary made an impatient noise and then said in a low voice, “We’ll never get another sponsor if you keep that up. These women are the daughters and sisters of wealthy men who could aid your expeditions greatly!”

“They are cotton-headed bits of fluff, and I refuse to pander to them.” He almost stopped when one of them boldly winked at him. “Good God, what happened to female modesty while I was in the wilds of Egypt?”

“More to the point, what happened to gentlemanly manners?”

“I left those worthless skills on the reedy shores of the Nile,” he retorted. “Good riddance, too.”

She gave him a sour look. “Our brothers are right: you have turned into a barbarian.”

“Why? Because I do and say what must be said?”

“No, because you barrel through life and never stop to consider the consequences of your words and actions. I—”

A young woman stepped into their path, almost thrust into place by the girls who circled behind her.

Tall, with a large nose and auburn curls, decorated with pearl pins, she appeared to be all of seventeen. “Mr. Hurst! How nice to see you again.” She dipped a grand curtsy, her smirk letting him know that she expected a welcome greeting.

Michael lifted a brow but said nothing.

Her cheeks bloomed red, her lips pressed in swift irritation, though she hid it almost immediately behind a forced smile. “I’m Miss Lydia Latham. We met at Lady MacLean’s soiree.”

Michael stared as Miss Latham held out her hand expectantly.

“Ooof!” He rubbed his side and glared at his sister, who’d just elbowed him. “Must you?”

“Yes.” She leaned closer and said through her gritted smile in a voice only he could hear, “I will stomp on your foot right here and now, in front of the entire world, if you don’t take her hand and at least pretend you are a gentleman.”

Michael suddenly remembered when, as a child, Mary’d once tossed him head over heels into an icy pond for nothing more than laughing at her new hairstyle. Of course, she’d been younger then, and less prone to care what others thought of her public deportment. He wondered for a bare second if she would really cause a scene, but the icy gleam in her eye made him think better of finding out.

With a grimace, Michael turned to the waiting girl, took her proffered hand, and held it the minimal time required by politeness before releasing it. “Miss Latham,” he intoned with as little enthusiasm as possible.

Miss Latham beamed as if he’d just conferred a cask of gold coins upon her. “I knew you’d remember me. We spoke at length about the Rosetta stone.”

“Did we?” he asked in a bored tone.

“Oh, yes! I’ve read every word you’ve ever written.”

“I doubt that, unless you’ve managed to sneak into my bedchamber and procure my diaries. I’m fairly sure no one has read those but me.”

Mary murmured a protest under her breath, but he ignored her.

Miss Latham’s face turned several shades pinker and she tittered nervously. “Oh, no! I would never, ever sneak into a man’s bedchamber.”

“More’s the pit—”

“Michael,” Mary interjected hurriedly, shooting him a dagger glance before she offered a kind smile to the sublimely unaware Miss Latham. “What my brother means to say is that The Morning Post serial is but a small portion of his writings. He’s the author of many scientific treatises on various artifacts and ruins that he’s unearthed, and—”

“My diaries,” he said smoothly.

One of the other girls—they could hardly be called women, as they were gazing at him as if he were a sweet cake and they were ready to devour him—clasped her hands together and said in a soulful tone, “I’ve never known a man to keep a diary.”

“And just how many men do you know?” Michael asked, irritated to be placed upon a pedestal for the most mundane of things.

Mary glared at him as if she were fighting the urge to toss him back into a pond. She said under her breath, “No one will invite you anywhere if you continue like that.”

“Nonsense,” he assured her en sotto. “They are too silly to know any better.”

As if to prove his point, yet another girl, this one with brown hair and a protruding chin, said brazenly, as if every word were a challenge that he wouldn’t be able to resist, “Mr. Hurst, I daresay our petty little parties bore you to death.”

“Yes, they do.”

Not realizing he found their party boring because of inane comments like hers, she sent her companions a triumphant glance. “I knew it! A ball is too tame for him after wrestling crocodiles and—”

“Hold!” Michael frowned. “Did you say ‘wrestling crocodiles’?”

“Why, yes.” When his brow creased, she added in a helpful tone, “You wrote about it in the The Morning Post just last month.”

Mary’s hand slipped from where it had been resting on his arm.

“Pray excuse me for just one moment,” Michael told the vapid ingénue before he turned.

His sister was two steps away, looking for a way to escape, but the crowd—trying to get closer to hear him speak—pressed too closely.

He grasped her elbow and pulled her back to his side. “There’s never a trapdoor about when you most need one, is there?”

Face red, she glanced at their interested audience. With obvious effort, she fixed a frozen smile on her face. “Pardon me, but my poor brother is famished and needs nourishment.” With that, she locked her arm through his, turned on her heel, put down her head, and burrowed her way through the crowd.

Michael allowed her to tug him along, glad to be rid of the pests in laces who stared after them.

They reached the refreshment table, where Mary quickly selected two half-filled cups and grabbed a small plate upon which sat a tiny piece of stale cake. Then, with an air of determination, she found an alcove hidden from prying eyes. Once there, she let out a huge sigh and dropped wearily upon the small settee provided for those fatigued from dancing.

“A crocodile?” Michael asked. “What—”

“Shush!” She gestured for him to take a cup. “Give me a moment to rest before you quiz me. I vow but I was holding my breath during that entire conversation. I just knew you’d be rude and ruin all of our efforts.”...

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  43 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read in a while May 22 2012
By Susanna - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love Karen Hawkins; I pre-ordered this book back in December, so it was with great delight I saw it delivered to my Kindle this morning at 12:30 a.m. Yes, I began reading immediately. Even though I had deadlines at work today, I managed to finish it this evening. It's that good.

This is the final book in the Hurst Amulet series, and a worthy entry. In the previous books, Michael Hurst, famed explorer and archaeologist, was imprisoned and needed rescue by his siblings. They each found love as they helped gain his release, along the way discovering their piece of the puzzle leading to the location of the long lost Hurst Amulet. Michael's abiding obsession was locating the Amulet, and that is the background to this final entry, Michael's romance. He has for more than four years benefited from the calm efficiency of his personal assistant, Jane Smythe-Haughton. She has become so embedded in his life, and he is so absorbed in his work, that he fails to see her as a woman or recognize his need for her. She, for her part, senses he is the center of her life but also that if their platonic working relationship shifts to something more sensual, it will spell the end of their association. So they soldier on.

The trail to the Hurst Amulet finally leads them to a most unexpected place, at least in Jane's view. It is a place where she has a history, one that startles Michael into finally realizing that maybe there is more to his assistant than her unerring ability to provide him with his morning bacon and favorite pillow. This very charming love story moves at a fast clip, with snappy dialogue and engaging characters. Both Michael and Jane are people you'd want to know, and you are drawn into their story from the first page. Karen Hawkins does a wonderful job of interweaving character, plot and romance, so you feel you know these people and this place, and you want the HEA almost as much as Michael and Jane do.

This story never bogs down. I was shocked when I realized I was nearly done. Since I was reading it in eBook format, I had to check to make sure it was as long as usual - yes, 400 pages. Amazing. I highly recommend this book. And you don't have to have read the rest of the Hurst Amulet series to thoroughly enjoy this one. Although why wouldn't you read the rest too?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance! Hurmor! Suspense! May 22 2012
By Bookreader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The last book of the Hurst Amulet series is finally here!

Karen Hawkins has outdone herself with this one...the quiet unassuming super-efficient secretary is not quite what she seems...and is tied to Michael Hurst in far more ways than he dreamed. And poor Michael...what he has to put up with! heh! heh!

Where does she get this stuff? Awesome! Lots of humor, lots of Romance, lots of mystery.

I won't spoil the plot for you, but Karen Hawkins' has written a fantastic ending to the series; all in all, a fabulous read.

Five out of Five stars!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sexy mind July 28 2012
By MovieLover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Story takes place 1822, mostly in Scottland.

Hero Michael is a big/tall Egyptologist. Heroine Jane is a small/petite "crack crypto-
grapher" & linguist who's been his assistant x 4 yrs. She's secretely in love with him.
He's arrogant, rude & has poor people skills. Except for instances when he choses to
be charming.

He's not attracted to her as a woman. Prefers buxom women. He has a one-track
mind of finding the rare missing Hurst Amulet, once owned by his family. Over time,
he begins to question his priorities & slowly starts to fall for her. Especially her
sexy mind & uniqueness. She shields her personal life, but he's always intrigued by
a mystery.

This is a witty, page-turner, HR adventure. Michael is a bit of a self-absorbed jerk
at start, but we slowly see his other layers. She is serene, but outspoken by nature.
They have great chemistry. The sex scenes are mild, but the romance is the thing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lighthearted and intriguing story of two adventurers who discover each other June 18 2012
By Jenel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Michael Hurst is a famous explorer, chasing mysteries around the globe. When he discovers that his no-nonsense assistant Jane is hiding a mysterious past of her own, he's intrigued. From Scottish princess to lowly assistant? He has to know the truth! As with any other hunt he's been on, he will not rest until he finds the answers.

Jane is well aware of Michael's innumerable charms. The thing is, he's never turned those charms on her before, so she's never had to try to resist him. But once he discovers the truth of her past, will he lose interest, as she's seen him do so many times before?

The Taming of a Scottish Princess is a fun, fast-paced, sweetly romantic story with a nice amount of steam to enhance the sweetness. I really enjoyed it!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good bye dear friends May 30 2012
By Jinny K B - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Someone once said that the true test of a good book is that when you finish it, you miss the characters. I will miss the Hurst family, but happily, I bought hard copies of the series and I can visit any time I want. I was so happy that they finally found the amulet and this woman Michael had complained about in previous books (Of course!) turned out to be the love of his life. My only complaint was that as an ending, I wish all the Hurst could have come together. But, Karen Hawkins is a great writer, who knows, they could show up again some day! Loved the book, and like I said, I will miss the series!

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