A ferocious conflict of wills...
Vere Mallory, the Duke of Ainswood, has everything--he's titled, he's rich, he's devastatingly good looking--and he seems determined to throw it all away. Disreputable, reckless, and wild, the last of the Mallory hellions is racing headlong to self-destruction...until a mind numbingly beautiful blonde Amazon knocks him off his feet--literally.
An incendiary passion...
Lydia Grenville is dedicated to protecting London's downtrodden. Dissolute noblemen like Ainswood are part of the problem, not the solution. She would like him to get his big, gorgeous carcass out of her way so that she can carry on with her work. The problem is, Ainswood can no more resist a challenge, especially in female form, than he can resist the trouble she seems to attract.
If they can only weather their personal firestorm...
they might survive the real danger that threatens all they hold dear.
Wednesday, 27 August 1828
"I'll sue 'em!" Angus Macgowan raged. "There're libel laws in this kingdom, and if that isn't libel, I'm a bull's blooming bollocks!"
The enormous black mastiff who'd been drowsing, before the editor's office door lifted her head gazed with mild, curiosity from Macgowan to her mistress. Upon ascertaining that the latter was in no imminent danger, the dog laid, her head down upon her forepaws again and closed her eyes..
Her mistress, twenty-eight-year-old Lydia Grenville, regarded Macgowan with similar dispassion. But then, oversetting Lydia wasn't easy. Fair-haired and blue-eyed, a few inches under six feet tall, she was about as delicate as the average Valkyrie or Amazon, and her body, like those of the mythical warriors, was as strong and agile as her mind.
When he slammed the object of his indignation down upon the desk, she calmly took it up. It was the latest edition of Bellweather's Review. Like the previous issue, it had devoted several columns of the first page to attacking Lydia's latest journalistic endeavor:
Here, Lydia stopped reading. "He has lost all control of the sentence," she told Angus. "But one cannot sue for bad writing. Or for lack of originality. As I recall, the Edinburgh Review was the first to tide nip after the monster in Beowulf. At any rate, I do not believe anyone owns a patent on the name 'Lady Grendel.'" "
"It's a scurrilous attack!" he cried. "He all but calls you a bastard in the next to last paragraph, and insinuates that an investigation into your past would-would-"
"'Would doubtless explain the virago of the Argus's otherwise unaccountable sympathy with an ancient profession whose bywords are disease and corruption,'
Lydia read aloud.
"Libel!" Angus shouted, pounding his fist on the desk. The mastiff looked up again, uttered a deep canine sigh, then once- more composed herself to sleep.
"He merely implies that I have been a prostitute," Lydia said. "Harriet Wilson was a harlot, yet her book sold very, well. If she'd had Mr. Bellweather abusing her in print, I daresay she might have made a fortune. He and his fellows have certainly assisted ours. The Previous issue of the Argus sold out within forty-eight hours. Today's will be gone before tea time. Since the literary periodicals began attacking me, our circulation has tripled. Rather than sue Mr. Bellweather, you should write him a note of thanks, and encourage him to keep up the good work.'
Angus flung himself into the chair behind his desk. "Bellweather has friends at Whitehall," he grumbled. "And there're some in the Home Office who aren't exactly friendly to you."
Lydia was well aware that she had ruffled feathers in the Home Secretary's circle. in the first of her two-part series on the plight of London's younger prostitutes, she had hinted at the legalization of prostitution, which would enable the Crown to license and regulate the trade, as in Paris, for instance. Regulation, she had suggested, might at least help reduce the worst abuses.
"Peel ought to thank me," she said.