A courtesan is at ease in every social situation.
She is both interested and interesting.
She maintains an air of mystery.
And above all else, a courtesan must never fall in love...
Fleeing an arranged marriage to a local repugnant in her small hometown, Ava Richards arrives in glamorous New York City at the height of the Gilded Age with one goal in mind: to take control of her own destiny. A dear childhood friend, and now the most desired courtesan of the city, Gabrielle Lyons takes Ava under her wing and teaches her everything she needs to know to one day replace Gabrielle.
Ava spends six months studying art, history, French, dance, and anything else Gabrielle says that a courtesan must know. But an unexpected midnight encounter in a library with a strange man suddenly puts Ava on a very different path.
Declan Aldridge is a dashing, witty, scion to an old New York family- and he tempts Ava in a way no other man ever has. Stolen moments, secret outings together, and heated looks tell Ava that there may be more than friendship brewing between them. But a man like Declan will one day settle down with a lovely wife, not with a courtesan.
Can she fall for the consummate bachelor and not get her heart broken? Or should she put her childish fantasies to rest and follow the path she’s already set on: in control of her own destiny but never having the man she loves?