But then it seems that Fate has intervened when three friends of the rich and powerful Lady Sarah Barton appear at her door seeking help after her Ladyship has been injured in a fall out hunting.
In gratitude for Valessa’s ministrations, Lady Barton offers Valessa the huge sum of two hundred pounds to help her with a secret charade that she is planning for her house party at her nearby mansion.
Little does Valessa know, as she shyly agrees because she is in desperate need of the money, that the charade is Lady Sarah’s wicked plot for revenge on the haughty and handsome Marquis of Wyndonbury, who has snubbed her marriage proposal after he has been having a torrid affaire de coeur with her.
The cynical charade duly takes place and Valessa finds that she has been unwittingly married legally and properly to the Marquis.
And in his understandable rage she finds him terrifying yet magnificent.
But, as they voyage to the South of France on his luxury yacht to escape the fallout from his marriage, he is transformed in Valessa’s eyes from the ogre she so feared to her tender and considerate ‘Man in the Moon’ – with whom she is falling irreversibly in love.
It is too dark to make out her face, but in an enchanted moment they kiss in the moonlight and a nightingale sings in the trees above as if just for them.
Two years later the beautiful Aleta Wayte, the recipient of that anonymous kiss, and her brother, Sir Harry Wayte, are forced to let their beloved ancestral mansion to a millionaire American called Cornelius Wardolf, disguising themselves as servants in their own home and at their tenant’s beck and call.
Of noble birth but penniless, Aleta still dreams of that handsome stranger. So, when Fate in the form of a road accident brings him injured to her door, her hopes are raised and then instantly dashed.
In her guise as a lowly servant how can she reveal herself as Tybalt Hampton is now the fifth Duke of Stadhampton and anyway, because of his impoverished estates, he has been earmarked by Cornelius Wardolf to marry his attractive daughter, Lucy-May?
Is it possible that Fate could be so cruel as to bring love so close only to snatch it away?
The Earl is determined that his only son, Royden, is married to his friendÕs daughter, Malva, as he feels that it is time Royden produced an heir to Hillingwood Towers and all its fabulous treasures and carry on as well his ancient and illustrious lineage.
The beautiful fair-haired Malva and Royden do not wish to marry and anyway they are definitely not in love with each other. They are both seeking an ideal love that will sweep them off their feet and they will be gloriously happy for ever.
To circumvent their fathersÕ ambitions for them they devise an ingenious plan to pretend to their fathers that they are indeed married, but they want it kept secret until they return from their honeymoon because Queen Victoria would not approve of anyone marrying while they are still in mourning as Malva is for her mother.
When they do return from their honeymoon, they will then say that they have found that they are totally unsuited to each other and will divorce immediately.
Because both fathers would be horrified at the Social shame and scandal of the mere idea of a divorce, they will be delighted and relieved to be informed that no wedding has actually taken place. And then they will take the pressure off them and leave them alone.
Malva and Royden set off for their pretend honeymoon in his new yacht for West Africa telling the Captain that they are brother and sister.
It is when they anchor in a quiet bay off the African coast and decide to visit the Palace of the local Vizier that their adventure really begins.
How Malva, because of her beautiful golden hair is kidnapped by the Sultan for his harem and how she is daringly rescued by Royden.
And how love comes to them both in a most unexpected way is all told in this exciting tale by BARBARA CARTLAND.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ They commiserate with each other for finding life so repetitive where nothing new ever happens.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ Listening to them, the old Duke of Dunstead tells them that he has a solution to their problem and so he bets one of his well bred horses against one of theirs that, if they go out disguised as ordinary men, they will undoubtedly find an adventure of some kind on the open road.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ Because it is a bet and betting at WhiteÕs is traditional, the Marquis agrees to ride North as far as Northumberland disguised as an ordinary man, while Lord Alfred is to go South to LandÕs End.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ The Marquis sets off alone, his only possessions being what he can carry on his horse, Samson, using the name of Neil Barlow.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ But he has not gone very far when a very pretty girl joins him on the road in a state of agitation and asks him if he will be kind enough to allow her to ride beside him.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ She explains that she is running away from her stepfather who is forcing her into marriage with a man she loathes and detests.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ She tells the Marquis that her name is Velina, but does not say anymore and he tells her only his Christian name and they ride on until they reach what appears to be a quiet inn.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ After dinner, when the Marquis goes out to see if their horses are happy, he overhears three men talking and learns that they have been sent by VelinaÕs stepfather to kidnap her and take her forcibly back to her home.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ The Marquis alerts Velina and they slip away at four oÕclock in the morning before anyone else is awake and it is then that the Marquis suggests that they should stay off the main road and travel North by the twisting lanes of England.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ How they encounter even more dramas than they have already.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ How they rescue a small boy and his dog from a cruel drunkard.
ÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊÊ How eventually Velina saves the MarquisÕs horse and him from a highwayman and how they find even more on a road to romance, is all told in this exciting story by BARBARA CARTLAND.Ê
He is twenty-seven and for a long time they have been begging him to take a wife and produce an heir to his illustrious title, his famous stately home and his vast estate.
On the whole he finds debutantes extremely boring and has enjoyed a number of affaires-de-coeur with older married women.
However there is one girl, Marigold Marlow, he considers outstanding and she is the acknowledged great beauty of the Season.
As she is so beautiful, the Viscount is convinced that Marigold will make him a perfect wife, but he is astonished when, having proposed to her, she tells him that she has not quite made up her mind. She will let him know on Wednesday if she accepts his proposal of marriage.
As the Viscount expects her to fall immediately into his arms, he is surprised, but content to wait until Wednesday for her answer, which he is certain will be ‘yes’.
As he drives away from Marigold’s house, a young girl holding a white Pekingese in her arms begs him to give her a lift to London.
He sees no reason to refuse and finds as they drive off that she is Salvia, a cousin of the beautiful Marigold.
He then learns that Marigold has her eyes on the son of the Duke of Northerncliff, who is seriously ill. In fact if he dies as expected, she intends to marry his heir as one day soon he will be a Duke. Feeling surprised and angry, he is even more astonished to learn that Marigold is cruel to animals and that Salvia is running away because she is so unkind to her dog as well as to her. How the Viscount dreams up a way to avenge himself on Marigold and, if the Duke does recover, how he can escape marrying her as he has now changed his mind. How the Viscount’s plan succeeds. And how Salvia takes London by storm, faces appalling danger and finally finds the love of her life is all told in this unusual story by BARBARA CARTLAND.