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The course of true love never did run smoothly—not when it involves a duel at dawn, a fight with a monkey, and mysterious goings-on at a seance.An unexpected encounter.Lucius Valentine has vowed to marry. Being an only son, duty and obligation weigh heavily on his shoulders. But how does a man choose a bride when his heart is devoid of emotion? Deciding on the widow, Lady Durrant, he soon realises he is not the only gentleman vying for her attention. The conflict ends in a dawn appointment where a surprise encounter sends Valentine’s marriage plans awry and throws his ordered life into turmoil.Even strong women crave love.Miss Ava Kendall has a hell of a game trying to keep her wayward brother out of trouble. In rescuing him from his recent escapade, she is thrown into the path of the enigmatic Lord Valentine. The man is charming, intelligent, beyond handsome, and clearly unused to dealing with a woman possessed of a sharp tongue and original mind. Gentlemen of his ilk usually avoid the bluestocking types. So why does he stare at her with hungry eyes? Why does their verbal sparring awaken a passion more profound than anything Ava has experienced before?A wild adventure leads to a passionate affair.After the theft of his mother’s prized blood ruby, Valentine is tasked with finding the culprit. And who should be on the list of suspects? The outspoken Miss Kendall. All evidence points to her guilt. But there is more to the mystery than meets the eye and the couple find themselves embroiled in plots of murder and blackmail. While their attraction deepens amidst the chaos, a villain is busy working behind the scenes to ruin their happy ever after.