Lady Catherine Dunleavy arrived in London from Dublin to confront her negligent guardian, only to find the man has abandoned his Countess, and the three orphans left in his care. Her sister offers her condolences for the tragedy that has killed their parents and sanctuary, but little else in the way of help. The Earl has made plans to set aside his Countess and has petitioned for divorce. Scandalous and as unheard of as it is, Catherine realizes without Lord Iverleigh's help, her and her two young brothers are destitute.
Her sister Lilly seems content to sit back and give Lord Iverleigh his way, but Catherine has other ideas. The shockingly wicked solution to end his plans of divorce and remarriage to his illustrious mistress gives Catherine the idea. Steal him away from the widow and spurn him, and give her sister the chance she needs to reconcile with her husband. But Gabriel is not the man Catherine was led to believe, and after enjoying his tender passions, she comes to see the man that he truly is.
Honest and noble to a fault, the handsome nobleman Gabriel St. Armand has seen his share of heartache at the hands of his treacherous wife. He rescues the raven-haired beauty from life in a brothel, only to discover a woman who reignites his heart's desire. Determined now to be free of his Countess and to be with Catherine, he has no idea his steps to free himself further imperil them both.
Nicholas Van Ryker is a smuggler and adventurer, and unlikely best friend to Gabriel. He obsesses over the green-eyed beauty his friend stole beneath his nose, determined to ignore the feelings she ignites within him. Gabriel asks him to follow his new mistress and divine her many secrets. Nicholas agrees, led by the memory of a stirring kiss shared in a quiet garden. He discovers Catherine is deceiving his friend and offers terms to keep his silence. He thinks one day with her spent in his bed will make him forget the lush beauty he cannot get from his mind.
The Countess's game is in play. Lilly is not about to give up her place as Gabriel's wife. Determined and cunning, she has thought of everything to reach her goals, even sacrificing the sister who unknowingly aids her.
From the smoke-filled boudoirs of London's most notorious brothel to the drawing rooms of the nobility, comes a tale of murder, blackmail, and unquenchable passions. On a windswept island a new love is born and is tested by the unseen ghosts of the past.
Catherine is haunted by a love she cannot forget and a man who owns her soul. Forced to choose, she must follow her heart at last.
- Karolyn Cairns, January 2012
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