Thane, Lord Welford, must get married, and quickly—he needs the money. Returning from soldiering in India, he either marries the heiress he has never met or lose Earlsthorpe, his ancestral home. Bitterly resentful of being forced into such a choice, he finds little in Miss Miranda Armitage to recommend her, thinking her overly meek and naive. Making love to a woman he cannot even like is unthinkable, but nonetheless, he decides the marriage will take place. Miranda, innocent and friendless, has been raised in isolation by her aunt. Lord Welford fits her dreams of a handsome knight, yet, despite her aunt’s assurances, his attitude is not what she expects. Confused, frightened by grim Earlsthorpe, and disowned by her aunt, Miranda has no option but to marry her reluctant betrothed. However, she dreads her wedding day when her life will be in his lordship’s hands. Thane decides to make the best of a bad situation. Then, out of the past, Claire, Thane’s former lover, arrives at Earlsthorpe with plans of her own. Things are not what they seem. Wicked schemes, the lure of sensual pleasures, and greedy desires lead to murder. The great house has its own secrets and dangers. Facing these dangers together brings Thane and Miranda closer. He admires her burgeoning spirit; she begins to love him. But lies and deceptions, plots and counter-plots strive to keep them apart. Just when Miranda believes she has found happiness, her trust is broken by the greatest deception of all.

Readers first met Lord Walter FitzGibbon in the book ‘Lord Compton’s Folly’. Now, several months later and with the death of a fellow espionage agent on his conscience, he has left the Admiralty’s service. Gorman, the agent, had been killed trying to prove or disprove a rumour that a French plot existed to assassinate an important but unknown British personage. The Admiralty, however, has not forgotten FitzGibbon. He is offered the chance to investigate the rumour further. He hesitates;  a lovely young lady, Franny Bowman, has caught his eye and interest. But she has left London, and the chance to perhaps avenge Gorman is too tempting. He accepts the mission.
            As Henri Langois, a fictitious relative of a French nobleman, he visits Elden Park, the country home of John Delaney, a wealthy, self-made man with strong ties to France. . FitzGibbon is welcomed and accepted by the host and his guests, but his heart nearly stops when he meets Delaney’s daughter, Jannette. She has seen him just before Gorman was killed, when FitzGibbon was disguised as Gascoyne de Verre. If she recognizes him, his mission, perhaps his life, is in jeopardy.
Jannette is sure they have met, but cannot place him. She says nothing to her father, but Henri politely avoids her. She dislikes and suspects him, yet is attracted too. FitzGibbon finds himself more and more interested in the intelligent, well-educated and beautiful Jannette, but she, her family, and their guests may all be traitors, bent on treason. Until he discovers their guilt or innocence, he must push his personal feelings aside.
The lovely house hides many secrets. Clues point in different directions. Although his life is threatened, FitzGibbon must play the charade to the bitter and deadly end. Time is running out; he must act quickly to avert disaster. Even a posthaste race to London may be in vain, but London is the final stage, amid pomp and ceremony, where an evil man plans to kill. FitzGibbon has to make a last-minute decision.  An innocent life, as well as all he treasures, depends on his choice.

DeadlyCharades
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