Lady Julia Leighton has been betrothed since her eighth birthday to an old family friend who feels more like a brother than the love of her life. At her long-awaited betrothal ball, she encounters a handsome stranger, and the heady mixture of champagne and experimental kisses leads to seduction born of a desire to feel something extraordinary in a man’s arms before her marriage to the man her grandmother calls ‘Dull Duke David”. Thomas Merritt is only at the ball to steal a magnificent tiara owned by Julia’s mother. Disowned by his brother for his rakish behavior, Thomas makes his way in the world by seducing rich women and stealing their jewels. But when he catches sight of the beautiful young bride-to-be, and watches her fiancé completely ignore her, he sets out to charm her, to flirt a little. When he steals a kiss, the intensity of his own feelings surprise him. He thought himself beyond feeling anything for any woman, but when he realizes too late that Julia was a virgin, he finds himself tempted to see her again. But she is betrothed to a duke, and he is more likely to end up dead than welcomed into the family. He leaves for Paris the day the Napoleonic wars officially end, both to find richer pastures and to try and forget Julia. But when their paths cross again, years later, they are both in very different circumstances. Julia, disgraced after the death of her fiance, has a secret she’s desperate to keep from Thomas. Thomas has a very dangerous secret of his own and it turns out that Julia is the only person who can help him. But will the past threaten to overtake their rekindled love?