1815 – 1822. Lady Constance Read, a duke’s unconventional daughter, insists on learning to fight with a knife. Her father insists she learn fencing as well. But the instructor? He is the same fencing instructor she fell in love with six years ago, and has not seen since – until today. Frederick Evan Sterling, called Saint, can hold his sword, his liquor, and women with equal skill, but his ability to resist the woman who has haunted his dreams for six years is in question when he becomes Constance’s fencing master.
Together Constance and Saint, attracted but attempting to stay at arm’s length, investigate the disappearance of two young girls, then the murder of a third. The sweetheart of Saint’s cousin then goes missing. There is a secret society open only to married couples run by the enigmatic Devil’s Duke. Constance and Saint, caught in flagrante delicto, are forced to marry, and now can investigate the society firsthand.
This complex story is not only about love between two multifaceted characters, but also kidnapping, murder, sexual abuse and ritual sacrifice, and the protection of King George’s empire. Oh, yes, and Constance is a spy, of sorts. Ashe’s characters have personality and warmth, and her plotting keeps the reader turning pages. Recommended.