Natasha Phillips has been left alone too long. With most of her family deceased and her brother Peter fully committed in the war on the Peninsula, she’s been marooned in the country with an old aunt. Now that Napoleon has been defeated and Peter is facing deployment to the Americas, he must find a way for his sister to have her first Season. That’s where his friend Major Cameron Talbot comes in: he’s to keep an eye on Natasha, screen her suitors, and offer himself up as a chaperone. As a favor to his friend, Cam agrees–but with trepidation, because everything he hears about the outspoken, impulsive, educated Tasha clashes with his idea of the perfect woman.
Lady Oliva Fairfax has a terrible secret: five years ago, when she was a mere sixteen years old, she discovered her mother’s body–and a suicide note. Her faith in God shattered, Olivia nevertheless covers up her mother’s act and hides the evidence–all to protect her brother Marcus from scandal and religious disillusionment. Now, she’s paying for her deceit: her despicable neighbor, the dissolute Baron Finley, swears he has the suicide note and will expose the family secret . . . unless Olivia marries him as soon as possible.
Her parents always thought she was a Changeling. Her godmother, recognizing her otherworldliness, dubbed her “Elfa” during her christening. Throughout her childhood, she communed with the woods and buried herself in books. But when she learns that her father intends to force her older sister to wed their neighbor in exchange for a disputed forest, Elfa knows she must act. After all, Caroline is in love with another man. The only sensible solution is for the quirky seventeen-year-old to convince the Duke of Lynchester to marry her instead.
For years, the Ghost of Hammerswold castle has appeared to his descendants to advise them about whom to marry to ensure their family’s future security. The current heir, Lord Jared Faverill, is on the path to dissipation, destruction and an early grave. After he has a fit of apoplexy, his grandparents are desperate to get him wed and reformed. What better method can there be than to hold a Halloween house party, populated by eligible blondes, to tempt the ghost to appear and make his choice?
Lord Belami is so close to happiness that he can taste it: he is engaged to the lovely Deirdre Gower and hopes that their wedding can go forward as soon as possible. Then, tragedy strikes. Deirdre’s guardian, the money-obsessed Duchess of Charney, worries that her wealthy and unhealthy brother is about to change his will and cut her out. Shortly after the Duchess delivers a bowl of stew to her sibling, he is found dead of arsenic poisoning. All the clues condemn the Duchess, and Deirdre is unwilling to go through with her wedding with such a scandal brewing. Now Belami, an amateur detective, must discover the truth about Dudley’s death–or lose his bride.
Emily Bridgewater is in a bit of a spot; strange men have kidnapped her grandmother, and threatened to kill the old lady, if Emily doesn’t do their bidding…but their bidding is a dangerous thing itself: infiltrate Prince Dylan of Penwyck’s home!
When a group of old friends liven up their card game by putting unusual stakes on the table–distasteful duties and worthless old things that they would like to get rid of–it’s all in good fun. That is, until their drunken guest, the young Vicomte Duvalier, offers up his old maiden aunt in exchange for a worthless Irish bog! Disgusted by the wager but constrained by honor to play his hand, the Earl of Rotherham plays to lose. But the woman who shows up on his doorstep is not the dowdy old spinster that he’d been led to expect.
The red-headed Maggie McNair has had a rough life in pre-Revolutionary Boston. After her father and then her mother’s deaths, her stepfather (Zeke Preston) has taken over her parents’ business, Black Horse Tavern. The gritty inn is the favorite haunt of a bevy of British soldiers. Some are gentlemen-like, but most are as despicable as her stepfather, who is ready to turn her into a prostitute and works her to the bone in order to break her to his will. Fortunately, Maggie has secrets: She knows the hidden rooms and exits to the tavern, and she becomes the wife of one of the leaders of the Rebel cause–the educated, cultured, and daring Seth Wright. These circumstances make her an invaluable spy, but also put her in grave danger.
Angelo Riccardi has a bit of a problem; he didn’t know, you see, that he’s the grandson of an infamous mobster! His mother had run away from the family, and never told him. Now, he’s swearing vengeance on the man she ran to…but that man has a daughter of his own, you see, from one of the other women in his life, and Angelo simply has not reckoned with Gwenna Hamilton!
Josslyn Haliday has suffered a lot of losses in Egypt. First, her mother disappeared into the desert, leaving behind her archeologist husband and three daughters. Then, years later, her father vanishes into the sands as well. Now, in the space of a single summer of research, both Josslyn’s sisters have gone missing, too. Gemma’s final words of warning echo in her ears: Beware the vampire.