An aristocratic heiress trying to escape social ruin is aided by an attractive businessman who offers her the shelter of marriage, though neither expects the venture to end in love.
Lady Joan Flynn is desperate to get out of Edinburgh for Christmas after her honor may have been compromised, so discovering there’s no space on the train leaves her anxious. When a small child forces her father—Scottish businessman Dante Hartwell—to offer Joan a place in their rail car, she's grateful but wary. She's met him in social situations over the past few weeks, and Hartwell has a sister and two children to act as chaperones, but she's still shaken by the previous night’s events. She had met an acquaintance named Valmonte to discuss her interest in women's clothing design, and she's not sure what happened between them. What she does remember is completely inappropriate, and she fears the worst—that she could be completely and utterly ruined. She finds herself confessing her concerns to Hartwell, who offers to marry her. He's a widower who was hoping to find wealthy investors in Edinburgh, so marriage to an aristocrat will further his industrial aspirations; he also finds Joan compelling and attractive, though he doesn't tell her that. As for Joan's previous impression of Hartwell: She “found him lacking many of the attributes she associated with a proper gentleman. He neither gossiped nor flattered nor took surreptitious liberties in triple meter. In short...she’d liked him.” The two agree to marry, then must navigate her family’s distrust and the dastardly Valmonte’s threats, realizing along the way how deep their feelings are despite their unorthodox start. Burrowes’ great writing and ability to bring her characters to life with subtle power and authenticity enhance an emotionally charged romance.
A touching and sensual holiday charmer.