Thurston Tarrant, known as Hotspur on the London social scene, thinks Lady Taffeta Grantham is too young and idealistic. Experience has taught him that love is found only in fairy tales and that very few women can be trusted--especially young and attractive ones.
As for Taffy, she finds the rakehell cynical and arrogant. He looks like a hero, but his arrogance and ethics as she sees them tell her otherwise. Besides, as one of the Rogues Three, she is more concerned with social injustice than a man who could use his influence to right wrongs but shows no interest in doing so.
So why does Tarrant find himself enchanted by the beautiful and high-spirited Taffy? Why does Taffy's sporadic gift of sight insist on showing her visions of Tarrant as a bold and passionate lover--her lover?
When the prince of flirts catches the princess of thieves in a 'Robin Hood' encounter gone wrong, a secret is discovered, a promise is given, and two lives will be changed in ways neither could have dreamed.
TAFFETA LOOKED OUT the window as their well-sprung carriage rumbled languidly over the country road. It was a cool spring day, and the air held a fresh, crisp scent. She looked at her brother and uncle across from her. Although she could see they hadn't paid the least heed to the sweet breeze as it wafted through their open window, she breathed it in and prepared for battle.
"Don't pout, Taffy! It ain't like you, and it won't change my mind," snapped Lord Nigel in a tone obviously meant to be suitably firm and effective.
She wasn't pouting, but she couldn't pull herself out of her 'dream' to tell him. She was too deeply engrossed in the vision being enacted in her mind as though actors were on a stage right before her eyes.
She saw a huge, muscular, and beautifully naked man with dark eyes that burned through her as he looked right at her--at least the 'her' on the stage. His black hair fell in waves around his handsome face, and she watched herself as she glanced at him from top to bottom and allowed her gaze to linger on his ready manhood.
Lady Taffeta lived in the country and from time to time had witnessed a stallion breeding. This incredible man was much like a stallion. She felt herself blush and wondered who he could be--and why she wasn't shocked in her dream vision.
She had to get out of this vision. It was wrong--all wrong. She sucked in air and broke out of the dream as she pushed her golden tresses away from her face and tried to concentrate on the present. She didn't know where this vision had come from; she was sure she had never seen such a man--yet.
"What did you say? Pouting? I ... I am not pouting," she announced, doing a very good imitation of it.
Taffeta knew she had to direct her attention to the present. Sighing, she focused on the conversation at hand. "Nigel, why you are suddenly taking on this attitude is more than I can fathom. You may be my uncle, but you are only two years my senior and not fit to tell me what I should or should not be doing."
Nigel turned to her brother beside him. She knew he was looking for help. Her brother, the young Duke of Grantham, had been more friend and confidant than nephew to Nigel since the first day they had gurgled together on the lawns of Grantham Castle, she'd frequently been told.
"What are you grinning about, Seth? I should think you would lend me your aid in this. After all, she is your sister!"
Taffy watched her brother as he eyed his uncle doubtfully.
"Don't look to me for help with the brat. Papa was the only one able to control Taffy, and this muddle is all your doing, you know."
Lady Taffeta eyed her brother ruefully and then her young uncle and guardian. She knew it had been difficult for him. Nigel had been born to his parents late in life. After his parents' death, his care and upbringing had gone to his older brother, and he had grown up with Seth and her. The job of guardianship, therefore, was forever in conflict with the position he held as their confidante and friend. Scarcely a month in age separated her brother and Nigel, but that month had been enough to award Nigel guardianship of both her brother and her upon the death of their beloved father. She didn't know what she would have done without both of them.
However, it was getting close to the day when Seth would be of age and take the reins of his own and her legal interests. It is sad really, she thought idly, how little women are allowed.
"You know, Seth, when we started this thing with the Luddites, well ... I allowed myself to be drawn into it, even allowed you to drag Taffy in," Nigel said.
This brought her out of her reverie, and she raised one brow as she eyed them. "I wasn't dragged."
"Very well, I allowed Taffy to join in the thing because she--we--needed a diversion. We were all so glum when we lost your father, but dash it, man, I didn't think it would go this far. It just isn't the thing for Taffy to be involved in," he said irritably. "All of this just now is wrong. In fact, it is time for us to withdraw as well."
"Taffy always gets into everything we do. Always has," Seth answered with a wide grin in her direction. "And we are withdrawing."
"Well, fond of her, we are both fond of her--spirited thing," Nigel conceded, talking about her as though she weren't there. "And yes, thank goodness, we are withdrawing."
"You have always enjoyed having me with you before, Nigel," Taffy said with hurt in her voice.
"As to that, don't mind now, quite the opposite really. You have been helpful, in fact, but that isn't the point, is it?" Nigel answered impatiently.
"That's right. You're a great 'un, and I'm proud to own it!" answered Seth.
"Well, but you shouldn't, Seth. You are a duke. One day you will owe it to the line to take a wife and beget an heir. Your sister needs to marry to suit her station and have a life. You should not be referring to her as a great gun!"
"Bit out there Nigel. Taffy has a life. Deuce take it, what maggot's got into your head, with all this talk of marriage and heirs? None of us are ready for that."
"That is just it--we should be getting ready for it. We all owe it to our names. Taffy may only be nineteen, but next month she will turn twenty, and she needs to attend the London cotillions and not have these escapades hanging over her head. They may rear up and haunt us."
"Oh pooh, as though I care for such things," she said.
"Well, you should care for such things," replied her uncle. "The job of guardian wears heavy on my mind lately."
"I am happy here at Grantham with you and Seth. I don't want to troll about for a man in London."
Her brother barked a laugh, and Nigel shook his head. "Troll about, indeed. Taffy, don't you want to be courted?"
"Have enough of that right here in Nottingham," she said with a giggle. "Your friends have been doing a bang-up job of courting me these last few months."
"Really?" her brother was moved to exclaim. "Never say so, Taff--who?"
"Trevor Harley for one. He has been making up to me for the last three months. And Sir Edward tried to kiss me in the rose garden yesterday, and Jeffry did kiss me the day before ..."
"Edward tried to kiss you? Jeffry did kiss you? I'll run them through." After making this quite proper declaration, the young duke immediately burst into laughter. "'Pon my soul, Edward and Jeffry?" He bent over with rollicking mirth and slapped Nigel, who was also chuckling, on the knee, and repeated, "Edward, and Jeffry!"
She waited patiently for some moments while they caught their breath again before returning to the issue at hand. "So, I am perfectly content to stay at Grantham and not bother with a London season." She shook her head. "Don't want to add my name to the lists of debutantes and stand in line waiting to be noticed."
"You may be my sister, but I ain't blind, girl." Her brother let out another chuckle. "You wouldn't be waiting in line--you would stand out. Have you looked at yourself lately?"