They call her the porcelain princess...
With her fragile beauty and regal bearing, the Duchess of Warneham knows how to keep her admirers at a distance. Twice wed and twice widowed, Antonia has vowed never again to marry; never again to surrender her freedom. But when her husband's death is deemed suspicious, and his long-lost heir returns to seize control of the dukedom, she finds that fate has placed her future in yet another man's hands -- but not just any man.
They call him a cold-hearted bastard...
Deep in London's docklands, Gareth Lloyd runs Neville Shipping with an iron fist. Unrecognizable as the starving orphan who was abandoned by his family and sent an ocean away from home, Gareth has put his troubled past behind him. That is, until the Duke of Warneham is murdered, and Gareth turns out to be the dynasty's last living heir. Wrenched from his solitude, Gareth neither wants nor needs the honors and obligations of nobility -- especially the Duke's all-too-tempting widow.... Or does he?
Carlyle's second Neville family novel (after Never Lie to a Lady) revisits the wounded hero story line and adds a touch of mystery. Through a twist of fate, Gareth Lloyd, part owner of Neville Shipping, discovers that the title of duke of Warneham has now fallen to him. It's a bitter inheritance for Gareth, who as a child was sentenced by the old duke to a hardscrabble life aboard ship. Reluctantly, Gareth visits his new country estate, Selsdon Court, only to discover the duke's beautiful widow, Antonia, still in residence. Passion flares between the emotionally damaged pair as Antonia reveals her grief over the death of a young daughter, and Gareth faces anti-Jewish sentiment among the upper class (an atypical touch that works well). The author's natural, concise writing style, attention to historical detail and fully formed characters make her world spring to life, and her plot never flags; Carlyle even finds room for a dose of mystery, as Gareth's friend, Kemble, investigates the poisoning death of the previous duke. As usual, Carlyle doesn't disappoint.