Claire Banning fulfilled every debutante's dream when she married a rich nobleman. Soon, however, the celebrated beauty realizes she wed a dissolute wastrel. Bitterly hurt and desperately lonely, Claire vows nonetheless to take her expected place in society. Then on a journey home to her husband's estate on the coast of Sussex, she is abducted, and her life - and her heart - are changed forever. Hugh Battancourt - a dark and dangerous nobleman who long ago turned his back on the ton and now leads a life secretly dedicated to his country's service - is determined not to be swayed by his prisoner's beauty as they share a cabin on a ship bound for France. Lives depend on his retrieving from her a letter full of secrets she intends to turn over to the enemy. But even as Claire and Hugh engage in a battle of wits and wills, captor and captive find themselves drawn irresistibly to each other.