From the author of Courting Scandal comes a Regency romance celebrating the witty and romantic world that fans of Georgette Heyer have fallen in love with.
Phaedra Gillian, the spinster daughter of a vicar, is quietly content to manage the chores in the household she shares with her father and tend to the needs of the less fortunate in their small village. When she discovers the body of a man who's been badly beaten and robbed on the road near their cottage, her compassionate nature compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. But sheltered as she is from the depravities of the London ton, she's dismayed to learn that the ruggedly handsome Hardcastle is a notorious rake and scoundrel--and a man who stirs unfamiliar and dangerous feelings of physical longing within her.
Lord Hardcastle has led a debauched and dissolute life, taking pleasure from women at his whim and shrewdly breaking the fortunes of lesser men in the gambling dens. While on his way to collect a debt from his latest victim at the card table, he's beset by highwaymen and left for dead, only to be saved by an angelic creature as beautiful as she is virtuous. Captivated by the lovely Phaedra and shamed by her pure-hearted goodness, he's nonetheless drawn to thoughts of seduction and concocts a fiendish scheme to coax her to his bed.
As Hardcastle skillfully leads her from genuine affection to mounting desire and Phaedra finds her resolve weakening, she must struggle to defend her virtue against the promise of a deeply tempting pleasure. And in a bold gamble that will change both their lives, Phaedra agrees to wager her innocence against Hardcastle's dishonorable ways--as both come to realize that a true and lasting love hangs in the balance and rests on the turn of a card.