Lydia Hetherington is uninterested in society balls or marriage, until her brother's friend, Lord Marcus Sheldon, rides into her life to unseat her from her horse and unsettle her heart. An undercover spy for the government, Sheldon is equally unsettled by Lydia.
Complicated by a French spy, her best friend's unrequited love for Lydia's brother, James, and a traitorous villain, Lydia gradually finds her emotions stirred by Lord Sheldon. But what is his relationship with the beautiful Lady Smythe and his part in an old scandal? Lydia faces danger before all deception is uncovered and love claims its reward.
Turning Sprite around at last, Lydia started back across the highway towards home. Then she heard the hooves. She had time only to draw on the reins when a phaeton pulled by two grey horses came fast towards her. Her mare reared and Lydia lost her seat. She slid to the ground unhurt, apart from a slight bump to her shoulder, but furious. Staggering to her feet and making ready to shout at the driver, she heard her name called.
“Lydia, are you hurt?” Her brother, James, was running towards her, full of concern.
“No… I think not. No thanks to your driver!” She was more indignant than hurt. She’d not taken a tumble from a horse since she was a child.
“Oh, she’s fine, no doubt about it.” James turned to the figure now at his side. “Watch out, Marcus, she has the devil of a temper when she’s crossed.”
Lydia straightened to her full medium height and frowned her disapproval at James, then she glared at the man standing beside him. So this was the friend he was bringing home with him.
“My most humble apologies, dear lady, for causing you such distress,” he said, with a gallant bow. “Your brother and I had a wager to see how fast I could get here and I think I’ve probably lost.”
Lydia stared, wondering whether she dared laugh or not. The man was such a fop. He was dressed in the utmost fashion: tightly fitting buff colored breeches, matching waistcoat, dark riding coat, carefully tied muslin cravat, highly polished Hessian boots, the whole topped with a medium crowned hat. Then she met his gaze and was puzzled. The amused expression in his steel grey eyes belied his dandified actions and Lydia noticed his dark hair and features that reminded her of Lord Byron.
Aware suddenly that she was staring, Lydia smiled sweetly and acknowledged his apology. “Think nothing of it, sir; if I had been driving, be sure I would have won the wager.” With that, she turned to James, who was waiting to fold her in a brotherly hug, though not before she’d glimpsed the half smile the other man tried to hide.