A Dangerous Offer
Arabella Sacheverell is on the run, desperate to outmaneuver an unscrupulous con artist who deprived her gambling father of his fortune and then won her as the last coup. Instead of dazzling the London ballrooms and searching for a husband, she prowls the country in search of employment as a governess, but in vain. The only offer Arabella receives is to play violin—something she excels at—in an ensemble at an exclusive brothel in Edinburgh.
The prospect of a happy marriage based on love—unlike her parents’ arrangement—has become a faded dream, but at least she has roof over her head, food on the table, and an excellent chance of never being discovered by her tormentor. Anything is better than falling into the hands of her father’s pretended friend.
Then the feeling of safety suddenly vanishes when a guest at the brothel shows too much interest in the music she plays—and in her past. Convinced he’s helping her persecutor, Arabella runs again. A visit to an employment agency provides at last desired results, and she heads to the Earl of Grattan’s home, responding to his ad for a musically adept governess.
For Julian Moore, the Earl of Grattan, duty to his family and title is what defines his life. When he thinks of marriage, love is not the word that comes to his mind. Betrayed once by a woman for whom he was ready to put everything on one card—literally—and watching the erosion of his parents’ relationship, all he wants is an arrangement that has nothing to do with feelings. His first, mercenary, marriage, though short, saved the earldom from a financial ruin and proved his point. Now is the time for a new, dynastic union that will solidify his family’s position.
But a season in London is out of the question until he finds a governess for his twin daughters. His last hope is an Edinburgh agency he contacts during his latest visit there. A visit that ends with a “surprise celebration” arranged by his business partner: a night at the city’s most exclusive brothel. However, it is not the beautiful courtesan at Julian’s side that holds his attention. It is the violinist whose virtuosity tears open the deepest recesses of his heart, reviving what he has vowed to never awaken again.
Little does either he or Arabella suspect that this accidental encounter is about to change their lives …