Can she trust both her instincts and the man who has stolen her heart?
Helena Wyatt is the daughter of an English hero, an admiral killed at Trafalgar. Being saved from certain drowning in the English Channel by notorious local rake Lord Darvell means she owes him her life, but when he refuses to return her to her home and sails on instead for a mysterious rendezvous in the Isles of Scilly Helena is first angry, then suspicious.
Adam Darvell has deep secrets, secrets he will deceive the crew of an English Excise cutter and its lieutenant to keep, and yet every instinct tells her to trust him. Having thoroughly compromised her, Adam offers marriage, only to be furious when she refuses.
Helena tries to enjoy her first London Season and ignore the ache in her heart. But when first Adam arrives in London and then Lieutenant Brookes, the man who boarded them in mid-Channel, Helena finds herself in a fog of intrigue, blackmail and possible treason.
This is an extensively revised version of the novel of the same name by Francesca Shaw, originally published by Mills & Boon in 1999.
They were very beautiful feet.
Bare, brown and braced on the bleached planking of the yacht’s deck. Masculine and beautiful. Miss Helena Wyatt swallowed and stopped idly scanning the little harbour from her vantage point perched on a quayside bollard. She dragged her gaze from those feet and gave the vessel a closer, curious look. Siddlesham Mill quay was not of such a size that gentlemen’s yachts commonly moored there, even one as plain and workaday as this large cutter with Moonspinner picked out in gilt on the bows. And it was a sportsman’s boat, she could tell that from the crew’s clothing, the pristine deck and the absence of any signs of cargo.
If she had brought her sketch pad and pencils the sailor who possessed those feet would have made an admirable study, she thought, narrowing her eyes to focus on the figure. She would draw him just as he was now, with his head thrown back to watch the rest of the crew in the rigging. He was the sailing master, she guessed, her gaze travelling up the strong musculature of his calves revealed by the canvas duck trousers. It was not simply the fact that everyone was working and he was watching, but he was not wearing the same dark blue top over his white canvas trousers as the rest and there was something about him, an air of command as he stood there, his hands on the broad leather belt which encircled his waist and his linen shirt stirring in the idle breeze that rippled across the harbour.
Helena studied his face. Purely in the interests of art, she told herself. Tanned skin, a strong face marred – no, enhanced – by that nose. It has obviously been broken at least once in the past. Fighting? If only he would move a little closer towards the bow so I can see his mouth more clearly… Already the picture was taking shape in her mind. A pencil sketch with just a wash of blue to suggest the water behind, a hint of colour for that sun-bleached hair…
The April sunshine dimmed suddenly. Helena glanced up at the black cloud passing overhead and a flurry of wind caught the wide brim of her plain straw bonnet. ‘Drat!’ Helena put up her hands to straighten it and found herself looking directly into dark blue eyes regarding her with quite blatant admiration.