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Blackmailed and faced with embarrassment and the suspicion of treason if the draft of her ill-advised, racy adventure novel is made public, unconventional Lady Lydia Alfreton heads to the gaming tables to raise some cash. Sadly, her gambling plan goes awry, and she is forced to call in an old bet with the Duke of Penthurst and recklessly wager (and lose) her virtue. Although the duke doesn't plan to collect, he keeps Lydia guessing. Then Lydia's ill-advised attempt to deal with the blackmailer brings Penthurst to the rescue, compromising them both, and suddenly it's marriage, not simple seduction, that lay ahead. VERDICT A rash, adventure-seeking heroine and an honorable, take-charge hero clash splendidly as passions blaze in this complex story that pairs another marvelously singular couple, brings the bad guys to justice, and cleverly ties up the loose ends of the series' ongoing mystery—and the "Fairbourne Quartet"—to the delight of all concerned. Hunter (The Counterfeit Mistress) lives in Pennsylvania.