Karen Ranney And The Troubled Heart Of A Man Of Science

Author Karen Ranney gives readers a peek into the heart and mind of her newest hero, Ian McNair. Learn why this man of science is torn when it comes to choosing A Highland Duchess ... and don't miss the excerpt after the message!

I’ve always been fascinated by the scientific discoveries made in the Victorian era, and the men who were laughed at or looked on with disfavor because they dared to postulate another answer to the questions fascinating mankind. 

One of those men was Ian McNair in A Highland Duchess, whose prized possession was a microscope, and whose best friend was a physician who put aside his practice to help Ian prove that disease was caused by organisms that couldn't be seen. 

Because he was the Earl of Buchane (and Laird of Trelawny) and his family was wealthy, Ian had both the means and the opportunity to pursue his avocation. Self-taught, and aided by men of science in Scotland, England, and France, he became respected for his ability take a complex issue and see it to a simple solution. 

His appearance was compelling, even though he never gave any thought to it. Tall, with black hair, he was gifted with eyes so dark brown they looked black. 

His life had been marked by responsibility. At his father’s death, he supported his mother, was a caring brother to his sister, a good steward of his land, and a good laird to those who looked to him. As an act, perhaps, of responsibility, he offered for his best friend’s daughter, a convenient marriage that was amenable to him, since it allowed him to do his duty to his family and carry on with his life’s work. As he thinks in A Highland Duchess:

He wasn’t adverse to getting married. At least his engagement had kept his mother from making not so veiled hints about his marital status. Instead of reminding him that he was still a bachelor, she’d taken to uttering comments such as, "When you are married, Ian..." or, "When I have a new daughter, Ian..." as if she were counting the days.

His friendships were measured by the same sense of responsibility, and after hearing the story of the Tulloch Sgàthán, Ian felt compelled to go after it. 

Little did he know that he was about to be blindsided by Fate. 

Again, from A Highland Duchess

Because he was a man who studied, investigated, and pulled apart the skeins of the mysteries of his life, he didn’t flinch from examining his own thoughts.

He was confounded by his feelings for the widowed Duchess of Herridge, a woman unlike any woman he’d ever known.  

Was what he felt for her simple lust? Had it been, he could have controlled his baser impulses with some difficulty but controlled them, nonetheless. What he’d felt for her, what he’d experienced with her, had been something different. 

What would he call it?

The need to conquer? Part of it, yes, not the whole. He’d dominated but he’d also been overwhelmed, by tenderness, by protectiveness, by emotions he’d never before felt. 

Strangely enough, he’d first wanted to talk with her, learn her secrets, know her mind, and perhaps offer up to her the gift of his knowledge. He wanted to introduce her to all those things that amused, charmed, or intrigued him if only to see if she felt the same. 

Poor Ian. The woman he loved was forced to marry another, and he was faced with complications to his own honor. Did he marry a woman he didn't love? Or did he live his life longing for Emma? 

He slammed his hand flat against the pane of glass, daring it to break, almost welcoming the resulting injury. Instead, it held, shimmering with the force of his blow, defying him. 

He wanted his wife to be a partner, needed someone to be with him, to listen to his frustrations, to accept those gifts he wanted to give, to share his dreams, and the successes of the future. He needed someone to stand hand-in-hand with him and create a perfect circle, or perhaps a wall. A bulwark against the world, in the shelter of which he could receive support and provide it as well. 

Ian was a man of honor, of responsibility, who found himself suddenly wildly and improbably in love. How he reconciled one with the other was his story in A Highland Duchess.  

- Karen Ranney

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