Hounded by an unscrupulous artist determined to ruin her, Anna Black winds up as governess to a lonely orphan whose guardian uncle has retreated from the world.
After the death of her father, a doctor who generally ignored his daughter, Anna carves out a simple but satisfying life as an art teacher in her village, until one of her father’s former assistants slithers back into her life with a portfolio of scandalous drawings he did of her without her knowledge. Determined to make his reputation as an artist himself, the cad approaches a reprobate aristocrat, who pays the artist to have Anna pose nude for a portrait. She refuses and flees her home, landing a servant position in a girls’ school, then is called upon to attend one of the pupils when she's sent in disgrace back to her guardian, Will Halifax, the Viscount of Grandville. Anna agrees to stay as Elizabeth’s governess, since not only are the generous funds hard to refuse, but Anna recognizes the teen’s rebelliousness as a cry for help and hopes to bridge a connection between niece and uncle. After years of mourning a beloved wife, Will is drawn to the brave woman he’d first seen emerging from a carriage “with a jaunty, boyish energy that had reminded him of a toy jack-in-the-box springing free” and finds himself mending fractured relationships under her influence. It’s clear Anna has a secret, and she's loath to trust anyone to help her, but as the net of the dastardly artist tightens, Anna may realize for the first time in her life that she's not alone, and love is a powerful ally.
Greenwood weaves some unique threads into her Regency romance, heightening the sexual stakes and rendering a wholly satisfying happy ending for this touching love story.