A woman defies expectations—including those of an arrogant earl—in the first regency romance in New York Times bestselling author Madeline Hunter's Fairbourne Quartet.
Despite the limits of her sex, Emma Fairbourne intends to run her late father's prestigious London auction house. Of course, she's not addlepated enough to do it openly and scare away her wealthy collectors. Instead, she and her friend concoct a deception, hiring a handsome and charming front man who will do her bidding...
All would have proceeded smoothly—if it weren’t for the maddening interference of Darius, the arrogant Earl of Southwaite, who was her father’s “silent partner”. Darius has no interest in running an auction house—and he's certainly not interested in allowing the lovely Miss Fairbourne to run it either, her ludicrous scheme notwithstanding.
But headstrong Emma is like no other lady he has ever encountered, refusing to follow his dictates. Holding his temper in check, Darius decides to attack on a different front. There is another way to achieve her surrender, one far more pleasurable for both of them...
In this 1790s quartet opener, Hunter weaves a suspenseful and romantic but improbable tale. Darius Alfreton, earl of Southwaite, is the secret partner in a successful auction house. When the owner dies suddenly, Darius assumes the business will close; Fairbourne's son was lost at sea two years before, and his plain and forthright daughter, Miss Emma Fairbourne cannot legally inherit. Emma, however, plans to run it from behind the scenes until her brother returns. As Darius and Emma engage in a battle of wills, sizzling chemistry draws them together despite a number of amusing miscommunications, their difference in stations, and the mutual threat of betrayal. Unbridled passion, tender affection, and escalating intrigue balance the unlikely resurfacing of Emma's brother and the unthinkable union of a tradesman's daughter and a peer of the realm.