Hardcover debut for veteran romance-writer Robards--the titillating story, set in 1769 in the Carolinas, of a minister's daughter who falls in love with the indentured servant whom she's purchased. Susannah Redmon, a 26-year-old spinster who's spent the last dozen years acting as a mother to her three younger sisters and helping her widowed father run the family farm, decides to buy an indentured servant at a public auction. Her choice falls on Ian Connelly--filthy, starving, and suffering from repeated beatings; before he can work, Susannah must nurse him back to health. As she does, she discovers, of course, that he's devilishly handsome. Soon the formerly prim minister's daughter--in an engaging Lady Chatterley-like situation--is romping about with her bound man in a most unseemly fashion. But the plot becomes thinner and more strained when Susannah, having finally decided to marry Ian, discovers him missing from his room (left in terrifying disarray, including a bloodstained mattress). She spends weeks imagining the worst, and when she does find him--at a wharf in Charles Town--she's so overcome that she faints. She wakes to find herself on board a ship bound for England. Turns out that Connelly is nothing less than a marquis, returning home to deal with the ""enemies"" (his stepmother and half-brother) who were responsible for his plight...though there are problems still to come before the predictable happy close. A fairly enjoyable romantic read--until that heavily contrived last third.