But her wayward and beautiful sister, Fleur, has other ideas for her. She has fallen deeply in love with Timothy, Lord Sheldon, but he is already reluctantly engaged through intense pressure from his family to be married to the daughter of the Duke of Dorset.
So Fleur and Tim plan to elope. And so determined is Tim’s uncle, the vastly rich Magnus Fane, a terrifying man people call the ‘Demon King’, to stop them that he kidnaps Fleur.
Little does he know, it is actually Delysia who his servants have abducted from the London house by mistake.
And when she is subjected to the contempt that Magnus Fane regards her sister with, Delysia resolves to keep up the pretence that she is Fleur so giving her sister time to run away to France with Tim to be married. And giving herself a chance to reverse the dreadful impression that he has formed of Fleur from reports by his relations.
But when Delysia is confronted by the awe-inspiring and arrogant Demon King, he turns out to be an extremely handsome young man as well as a highly successful entrepreneur, having made his fortune in the East.
And slowly but surely she is no longer held hostage, but simply following her heart as mutual hatred in some magical way turns out to be love.
And most recently by the lecherous Lord Walden whose children she was appointed the Governess to.
Not only had he forced himself upon her. Worse still he has told his wife that Druscilla was the louche philanderer and so she was summarily dismissed from their employment without any reference.
Little wonder then that she now dresses in the dowdiest of clothes with her hair in a matronly bun, anything to make herself unattractive to men, all of whom she despises, loathes and fears.
Now employed as Governess to another noble household, Druscilla is startled to meet her older second cousin Valdo, the Marquis of Lynche, now a famously dashing and handsome ‘ladies’ man’ in London Society and a considerable catch for ambitious debutantes. And she is even more startled to find that he is engaged in an illicit affair with her employer.
Facing likely death in a duel with his lover’s furious husband, the Marquis is forced to propose a marriage of convenience to Druscilla, who sees it as an escape from her misery loneliness.
They are summarily married with a Special Licence and Druscilla’s life now changes completely as she becomes the new Marchioness of Lynche.
Little does she know that her audacious adventure means that she risks losing her life – or that she is about to lose her heart.
So, when on a night time journey from London to his Surrey estate, he discovers a young stowaway hidden below his carriage seat, he appears to be angry and wants nothing to do with this new problem in his life.
But when the ‘boy’ is revealed to be a feisty but very beautiful young girl, he quickly softens.
Cara, as she reveals is her name, is running away. From what or from whom she will not confide in the Marquis.
With highwaymen prowling the roads and revolution in the air, the Marquis cannot let this young innocent go on alone and defenceless to Paris, which is her intended destination.
Despite her protests he rather reluctantly takes Cara under his wing, finding out eventually that she is fleeing a forced marriage arranged by her cruel and wicked uncle, the Earl of Matlock.
Just as the Marquis saves her from her uncle, Cara saves him from a murderous revolutionary plot.
And, as they manage to escape their enemies, they begin to realise that they have been caught by a deep and inspiring love for one another.
Finding out purely by chance that she intends to entrap and blackmail him in a cynical plot, he decides that he must escape the Society world and so he heads off in his yacht for The Hague in Holland in search of great Dutch art to complete his prestigious Picture Gallery, which the King himself is taking considerable interest in.
In the meantime someone else is also destined for the Dutch City at the same time.
Beautiful young Lela Cavendish is mourning her mother’s death when her stepfather, Sir Robert Lawson, sends for her.
Arriving at the family estate she is appalled to find that he has arranged for her to marry a wealthy much older and extremely unpleasant man whom she has only met twice let alone loves.
Lela and her beloved Nanny flee to Holland to throw themselves on the mercy of her ailing aunt, the Baroness van Alnrardt.
And soon in The Hague’s Mauritshuis Museum Fate strikes when an art dealer stops to admire Lela’s excellent copy of Vermeer’s Head of a Young Girl and suggests to Lela a terrifying course of action.
And that is to defraud the famously handsome Marquis of Kyneston with her copy of the Vermeer Masterpiece.
But she and the Marquis find out soon enough that there other attractions in Holland besides Dutch paintings.
Knowing this and concerned for Gretna’s reputation, her companion and chaperone, the rotund Mrs. Merryweather, passes her off as her niece when they arrive at his magnificent nearby Stately home.
Sadly the Marquis seems to take her lowly status as an excuse to proposition her in way that he would never dream of treating a Society lady.
Little does he suspect that Gretna is the daughter of just such a lady and one with a scandalous past and illustrious connections of her own – namely with The Prince of Wales’s consort, Maria Fitzherbert, or Aunt Maria to Gretna!
The gossip-mongers in the late 1780s were all speculating that the Prince and Mrs. Fitzherbert had been secretly married and purely by chance Gretna found that it was indeed true.
Gretna hates the steely-eyed and supercilious Marquis with his sarcasm and curled lip, especially when he has the temerity to suggest that Mrs. Fitzherbert’s residence in the smartest part of London is an unsuitable place for a young girl like Gretna to be staying.
But then his arrogance pales into insignificance compared to the vile predatory Lord Wroxhall, who pursues Gretna mercilessly until finally love comes out of hiding for the Marquis and his golden-haired Gretna.
To make matters worse Sir Giles has seriously gone off the rails in London, drinking heavily and gambling away what little money they have. And he has come heavily under the influence of the sinister Lord Crawthorne, who appears to be encouraging him to new excesses.
To her horror Celesta finds that her brother has lost their delightful home, The Priory, at the gaming tables. And that their estate, including the Garden Cottage that they have made their home, are now owned by the mysterious Earl of Meltham.
When she meets the new owner, it is not in the best of circumstances. He comes upon her in the estate peach house, where she is picking the fruit.
Sardonically accusing her of stealing the handsome but cynical Nobleman forcefully takes her in his arms and kisses her.
Celesta has never before been kissed and she hates the Earl for his arrogance.
But, when Sir Giles ends up in the debtors’ prison, the Earl saves the day in more ways than one and she starts to see him in a whole new light.
Will this light of love finally bring Celesta out of the shadow of her mother’s sin?
Far from being grateful, Brucena is outraged, having no idea that she is contravening Major Hadleigh’s own orders that no Europeans may travel to the forbidden area of Saugor.
She is on her way to join her cousin, Captain Sleeman and his wife, Amelie, intending without their knowledge to work as a Nanny to their as yet unborn child and thereby escaping a fault-finding father who hates her for her beauty and for not being the boy he so desperately needs for his estate and Castle in Scotland
But Brucena soon finds far more to fear under India’s searing sun.
First the unwanted attentions of the somewhat sinister Lord Rawthorne and, worse still, the devotees of Thuggee – highway murderers who strangle their victims from behind with a yellow silk scarf –
It is only when, rescuing her in the darkness from the clutches of would-be murderers and Iain’s lips fall on hers, that Brucena realises that she has been in love with the dashing and handsome Major all along!
The bet concerns whether they can successfully replicate the experiment in George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion, in which Eliza Doolittle is taken from the flower market in London and trained to pass as a ‘lady’ in Society.
Unbeknown to her, Sir Hugo’s niece, the beautiful, innocent orphan, Lorena, whom he summons back to England from her French Convent School, is chosen by him to play the part and is taken to meet the sophisticated Windlemere Set made up of the Duke’s spoilt entourage.
On arrival with her uncle at the Duke’s palatial stately home, Mere, Lorena is overawed by her surroundings and by the dashing and handsome Duke.
And for his part the Duke is captivated by Lorena’s intelligence, honesty and loveliness. Not only is Lorena capable, it seems, of being accepted by his snobbish friends.
She inspires respect as well – and even love.
But it’s about Pascoe Lowestoft that Prunella is most concerned. Spoilt, dandified, vain and “far too good-looking for any young girl’s peace of mind”, this penniless fortune hunter he has declared himself in love with Nanette!
To make matters worse, the new 6th Earl of Winslow arrives unexpectedly to take his place at his long-neglected Baronial Hall – a gentleman of whom Prunella deeply disapproves for his wild, raffish reputation, and the fact that he is Pascoe’s uncle.
Her argument that the love between Nanette and Pascoe must be stopped gets short shrift from the Earl. Indeed, he argues that love, such as that which led her mother to leave, cannot be denied. Prudish Prunella refuses to believe that such an unruly, uncontrollable love can exist – until the prodigal Earl’s stolen kiss changes everything forever.