A debut on two counts--for British author Roberts and for the publisher, which is entering the hard-cover fiction field with this plump historical romance, set in England and Ireland around 1890, and documenting the anguished love life of Miss Elliott. Louisa, the illegitimate daughter of a York hotel-keeper, helps nurse a dashing captain of the Royal Dragoons back to health when he lands on their doorstep. She also works as a lady's companion, and in that capacity, re-meets handsome Robert Duncannon when he pays her spoiled employer, Rachel Tempest, a call. A near-rape at the hands of Rachel's slimy papa lands Louisa in Robert's bed, and soon she's set up in an apartment in York with him--to the disapproval of Louisa's cousin, Edward, a bookbinder (who's also in love with Louisa, though he hasn't quite figured it out). Robert can't marry Louisa because he already has a wife, insane and shut up in the moldering Irish family manse. But he takes her back to Dublin with him, where he trots her around in society--even as censure and guilt take their toll on ""Louisa's battle-strewn soul."" Louisa will bear Robert three children, and suffer his philandering and violent brand of love before she returns to York. . .first to attend to her dying mother, and then to marry patient Edward. This has more historic and emotional verisimilitude than most books in the genre. But those who expect heroic attachments from a romantic heroine will want their money back, since Miss Elliott spends most of the book scuttling after a cad.