No one ever expected Julian Fortescue to end up becoming a Duke, least of all himself. But after a series of tragic accidents, illnesses and old age kills off most of his male relatives, Julian finds himself as Duke of Denford. As this book begins, he is also actually a wealthy man, having come to a settlement with all of his relatives that means he has the money to support himself in style. This doesn’t escape the notice of his dear mother, who promtly arrives on the doorstep of his rather bare and understaffed town house with his three younger half-sisters in tow. Julian never got along with his mother’s second husband (who was very religious and liked to beat his step-son), and so has barely had any contact with his mother or younger sisters. Now his mother has married an American sea captain, and emotionally blackmails Julian into accepting guardianship of the three girls.
Julian has absolutely no idea what to do with three young ladies. He’s not exactly a great role model to them, with a history of womanising, gambling and drinking. While he may have become a Duke, he’s not given up his former trade of art dealing, to the disapproval of much of the ton. He tries to get his neighbour’s wife, Lady Windermere, to help him hire a governess, but she just laughs at him. So when the mysterious, but very sensual Miss Jane Grey shows up on his doorstep, wanting the position, and Julian instantly falls in lust with her, he hires her on the spot, figuring that she can tutor the girls by day, and warm his bed by night.
Jane Grey is in England for revenge, however. She is in reality Jeanne-Louise de Falleron, only survivor of the Falleron family, who were arrested and executed during the Revolution. She knows that a man named Fortescue was supposed to help her father obtain the correct papers to allow the family safe passage out of Paris, in return for a share in the family’s priceless artworks. Instead the family were betrayed. Jeanne only survived because she had the papers for the family’s governess, the actual Jane Grey and one of the soldiers arresting the Fallerons saw an opportunity to get a grateful mistress out of the bargain. Having been Jane for so long, doing whatever she needs to survive, Jeanne is a far cry from the innocent, pampered French girl she once was. Her thoughts of revenge are what has kept her going. She knows that Denford is the head of the Fortescue clan and figures that being in his household will be the best way to tracking down the man who betrayed her family, so she can kill him.
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