It started with a kiss.
When nine-year-old Eleanor Abbington first met her uncle’s new stepson, Nicolas Norton, the boy rudely stole a kiss from her that set the tone for their contentious and competitive relationship. It wasn’t until years later when Nick introduced her to fencing that they finally had a proper outlet for their frequent arguments.
Having just emerged from mourning following her mother’s death, Eleanor is exactly where she wishes to be at the age of four-and-twenty: an on-the-shelf spinster and unofficial companion to her aunt. Unfortunately, her ambitious uncle has other plans for her future. On the eve of his house party, he lays down his ultimatum: either Eleanor marries the man of his choosing, or he'll force her seventeen-year-old sister to do so instead.
When Nick unexpectedly arrives on their doorstep after a two year absence, Eleanor is in no mood for their normal banter. Seeming to know exactly what she needs, Nick challenges her to pick up the foil once more. During their pre-dawn matches, he shows her just how strong she can be . . . and exactly how much he’s changed since leaving. But when her old adversary becomes her only ally, she may very well find herself . . . Ruined by a Rake.
**This is a novella of approximately 23,000 words**