Northern Rain by Nicole Clarkston

Northern Rain by  Nicole Clarkston

Northern Rain by  Nicole ClarkstonNorthern Rain by Nicole Clarkston
Also by this author: The Courtship of Edward Gardiner
Genres: Austenesque

There is nothing like a long walk in the rain to guarantee a little privacy… unless the last person you wish to encounter happens also to be in search of solitude.

John Thornton is a man of heavy responsibilities who has many things on his mind, but the most troublesome of them all is Margaret Hale. She wants nothing to do with him, and he wishes he could feel the same. When a moment of vulnerability allows her a glimpse into his heart, she begins to see him very differently.

Is something so simple as friendship even possible after all that has passed between them? Thornton has every good reason to move on, not the least of which is the lovely Genevieve Hamilton and her wealthy father. Will Thornton act according to duty and accept an opportunity to save his mill, or will he take a chance on love, hoping to change Margaret’s mind?


Stunning. This was my first North & South variation and I was absolutely bewitched. I was so impressed with the writing in the book, the words flowed perfectly through the pages.  Nicole Clarkston knows her stuff, to be able to sweep the reader and ensnare your soul was simply amazing.   I loved the angst, the romance and the push and pull between John and Margaret. This book held me captive, wondering and worrying and loving every single word and emotion I felt.  Northern Rain sweeps you off your feet. 


Margaret’s week had altered rather drastically from the prior one. Her father was improving already, which gave her great reason for hope. He seemed stronger and better aware of his own vulnerability, and she had already begun to fear much less for him.

She looked forward to longer and more frequent walks now, but her charity work had kept her constrained to her writing desk for many hours together. She had intended to visit Mary Higgins on the previous afternoon, but she had felt it only right to complete her task before venturing on any pleasure outings.

 At last she had finished, and she was pleased to settle into the old chair in Mary’s kitchen. The children filed dutifully around her, the older two eager to display their new learning. She admired their neat scrawls and encouraged their blossoming phonetic skills with enthusiasm. The glow of scholarly achievement was still fresh upon them, and they humbled her with the great pride they took in their education.

Margaret had just shifted Jenny onto her lap to listen to her new words when the door opened. She looked up, smiling. “Nicholas! You see, for once I have come when you are… oh!” Her cheeks burned as a tall man stepped inside the little house behind Higgins.

“Aye Lass, I won’red if yo’ mighn’ be ‘ere,” Higgins slanted a sly grin over his shoulder. “We ‘adn’ seen yo’ a’ week. Mary, we’ve ‘nother guest!”

 Margaret’s eyes were still on the figure in black, who now approached her with an enchanted warmth upon his face. She could not rise with the child on her lap, but she smiled shyly. “Good evening, Mr Thornton.”

His pleasure wilted into disappointment. “‘Mr Thornton’ again, is it? I shall have to remove my coat once more.” He turned to his host with a bemused expression. “At least one of us is on first-name terms with the lady!”

Margaret felt the heat crawling up her neck. She coaxed Jenny off her lap and rose to draw near. “I am a guest here as well, sir,” she blushed, keeping her voice low. “I had assumed such informality extended only to my own home.”

“And I had hoped otherwise,” he whispered, bending close. In a more conversational tone, he looked to little Jenny, who had leaned bashfully into Margaret’s skirts. “I understand your studies are coming along very well, Miss Boucher. Mr Higgins invited me to come see for myself.”

Jenny nodded, giggling and looking up to Margaret with a beaming smile. Margaret felt her breast swell beyond explanation. This man who had slowly captivated her interest appeared to have thoroughly won over the heart of the small girl at her side. Was there any surer way for a man to secure a woman’s affections than by seeing to the pleasure of a child? She met his eyes once more and found them silently waiting for her approval.

Higgins was tactful enough to make a great show of greeting Mary while his two guests shared their private exchange. After a proper pause, he raised his voice. “Miss Marg’et, I see yo’ brou’ a wee tart!” He chuckled loudly. “yo’r Miss Dixon vowed I’d na’ get another!”

Margaret turned. “I pleaded your case, Nicholas. I threatened to make it myself if she did not. She has a reputation to uphold, after all.”

Higgins guffawed. “Thank yo’, Lass! Tho’ I’d be righ’ pleased to try yo’r own cookin’, if it came to it!”

Margaret reddened again as the tall man by her side shot her a knowing wink and a secret smile. “I have had that honour, Mr Higgins, and the pleasure was most certainly mine.”

“Ho! I thou’ as much.” Higgins chortled.

Margaret’s eyes were wide with disbelief. “What- a pleasure! Why, we could hardly stand to eat it!”

“Miss Hale is too modest, Mr Higgins. It was the most delightful meal of my life.” He offered a kindly little bow in her direction before submitting to Jenny’s pleading tugs on his hand. Danny by now had found him as well, and eagerly pressed his primer into Thornton’s other hand. He followed the children to a chair, his warm gaze lingering on Margaret as he went.

Margaret could scarcely meet his eyes. A strange, new feeling welled up within her. Her stomach tingled when he looked at her, and her old maidenly independence warred with the pleasant allure she felt whenever he was in the room. He drew all of her attention, and it mortified her to consider what others watching her might think. The temptation, however, was too great. Her cheeks stained crimson, she dared to raise unwavering eyes to where he sat across the room.

He was looking steadily back at her.

Margaret’s limbs quivered with a thrilling little flutter. She caught her breath and forced herself to look away, but not before he treated her to another of his crooked smiles. Oh, dear! Silly little fool that I am, but that smile of his! Clenching her fingers tightly to still the tremble in her hands, she rushed to help Mary as the girl made ready to serve Dixon’s fresh tart.

Though her eyes were down before her, her thoughts were trained only on the rich, deep voice across the room as he spoke with the children. His tones were utterly unique to her ears; a voice which could belong to him alone. At once cultured with the sophistication native to his bearing and roguish with the autonomous spirit of his northern heritage, the now familiar cadence of his speech lilted comfortingly to her as she listened. What would it be like, she wondered fleetingly, to lay my head upon his chest and listen to that deep rumble of his voice, as Jenny does?

Shocked at her own unbidden thoughts, she lingered with Mary far longer than was necessary. You are supposed to be a lady! she scolded herself. What immodest ideas would occur to her next? She bit her lip in vicious self-chastisement and drew near to Nicholas at last with a serving tray.

He looked up from his seat, a suspicious twinkle in his eye. “Nay, Lass, yo’ dursn’ serve me. Set, Miss Marg’et, yo’re a guest!”

“It pleases me, Nicholas,” she smiled and pressed a little saucer of tart and cream upon him.

She came to Thornton next, who had just shuffled both children off his lap in anticipation of her offering. She lifted the tray slightly, and softly- very softly- spoke. “John?”

His clear blue eyes, shining in delight, met hers. He held her gaze for a second before he accepted, assuring himself that she sensed his pleasure and gratitude. “Thank you, Margaret,” he murmured quietly.

A giddy tickle raced through Margaret’s core and she turned quickly to the children before she could embarrass herself further. What had come over her? She could only hope that Nicholas Higgins was either less astute or more prudent than she had previously given him credit for. Had they been in any other company, her moonstruck behaviour would have fueled the local gossip for weeks.

The visitors did not stay long after. The family offered to share their entire meal, of course, but neither party would dream of imposing further. Margaret found herself tangled among the four smaller children as she made her farewells to Mary, while Nicholas and John lingered near the door with the two older children in anxious attendance.

“Master,” Higgins stroked Daniel’s fair head fondly, “‘t’were righ’ decent o’ yo’ to come see the childer. They were ‘opin’ yo’d be back for a visit.”

“I shall come as often as I can,” Thornton promised. “It is a pleasure, I assure you. Higgins,” he hesitated, then looked the other firmly in the eye, extending his hand, “you have done right. My respects.”

A slow smile tugged the old weaver’s bristling cheeks as he took his employer’s hand. “Thank yo’, Master.” With a sly peek across the room to where Margaret was still trying to disengage herself, he leaned close in a whisper. “Tha’s a fair lady, Master, and no mistake. Yo’re a lucky man, sir.”

Thornton’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, and the ghost of a smile touched his lips. He held up a single finger in a mute plea for silence as Margaret at last made her way to them.

“Miss Hale?” he extended his elbow as she came near. “May I see you home?”

Margaret smiled bashfully and took his arm. She then looked beyond him, through the door, and her smile faded. “Oh, dear. It is raining terribly!”

“Which is why, Miss Hale, I offered to see you home. I see that once again you thought to bring an umbrella, while I did not.” He winked toward Higgins.

Margaret surveyed him with mock indignation. “I was under the impression, Mr Thornton, that it was for the gentleman to make such provisions!”

“How fortunate for me, then, that I am not a proper gentleman. My lack of foresight seems to have served me well thus far. Shall we?” He drew out Mr Hale’s old umbrella and popped it open outside the door for emphasis.

Higgins was laughing heartily as he bid Margaret his farewell. “‘Least ‘tis a short walk, Lass!” he chuckled as the pair set out. He closed the door and looked to his daughter. “Well, my girl, tha’s a man wha’s a fair sight ‘appier than I’ve e’er known.”

Mary frowned at her father. “I don’ understand, Da’.”

Higgins groaned in relief as he sank into his chair and began to pull off his boots. “A man’s ‘eart wants the touch of a woman, that’s a’, Lass.”

Mary tilted her head quizzically. “Yo’ think Master’s soft for Miss Marg’et?”

He sighed contentedly. “Girl, a’ I know is th’ould bulldog’s been gen’led.”

tagauthorNicole Clarkston is the pen name of a very bashful writer who will not allow any of her family or friends to read what she writes. She grew up in Idaho on horseback, and if she could have figured out how to read a book at the same time, she would have. She initially pursued a degree in foreign languages and education, and then lost patience with it, switched her major, and changed schools. She now resides in Oregon with her husband of 15 years, 3 homeschooled kids, and a very worthless degree in Poultry Science (don’t ask).

Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties- how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project (undertaken when her husband unsuspectingly left town for a few days) she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Nicole’s books are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.



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