Heartless, first published in 1995, was a new venture for me. It is a Georgian historical, set during the 18th century, several decades earlier than most of my other books, which are set in the Regency era of the second decade of the 19th century. The slight change of era made a great deal of difference. People dressed, spoke, and behaved differently. Ladies wore large-skirted, hooped dresses and powdered their hair and wore black beauty patches on their faces. Gentlemen wore large-skirted coats and buckled, high-heeled shoes, and powdered wigs. They often wore makeup and sometimes carried fans and snuffboxes. By our standards they may have appeared quite effeminate, but in the best of them there was masculinity to the core. They carried swords at their sides and knew how to use them.
Lucas Kendrick, Duke of Harndon, is the ultimate Georgian gentleman. He has lived in Paris for ten years and even there he is known for leading fashion rather than following it. He is also known as a cold and ruthless man, a deadly shot with a gun and equally deadly with his sword. He is also known as a man who can charm any woman to his bed. Luke's cold heartlessness is self-imposed. Ten years ago, when he was twenty, he was banished from his family home and cut off without a penny after he almost killed his elder brother in a fight. Now both his father and his brother are dead and Luke, very reluctantly, has been persuaded to return to England to sort out some problems on his estate and to deal with some family troubles involving his once-beloved younger brother and sister. He goes to London but refuses to go all the way home. And when his uncle tries to persuade him that his best course is to take a wife and settle to his responsibilities, he is openly hostile to the idea—until he sets eyes upon Lady Anna Marlowe at a London ball one evening.
Anna Marlowe has always been devoted to the care of her family. Saving them from certain ruin, however, once drew her into deep, dark trouble, and she sees no way out of it for the rest of her life. She does agree, however, to go to London to stay with her godmother, but only for the sake of her younger sister, who needs to meet society and find an eligible husband. Anna expects to remain out of sight herself. Her godmother has other ideas, however, and first persuades Anna to clothe herself in a manner befitting her rank and suited to London society, and then persuades her to attend a few balls and parties. At her very first ball, Anna sees the gorgeously-clad Duke of Harndon across the ballroom and decides that surely there is no harm in dancing and even flirting with him just this once.
Signet Eclipse ISBN 978-0-451-46973-1