Looe, Cornwall, 1813; smugglers, spies, romantic misunderstandings, dastardly relatives, unknown inheritances, sea battles and a race against French Man of War ships to make it to the safe harbours of Jersey, naked men froliking in the sea. This very entertaining novel by the author of the frothy "Aphrodite's Brew", has it all.
In 1809, the Hon. Merrik Winslow meets 17 year old Lady Juliette Harlton, who is to become his fiancee. However, rather than marry him, Juliette runs off with her lover, then her brother Cyril tells Merrik that she has died. Sickened and hardend by war and death, Merrik feels that he has no choice but to return to the Pennisular War. He only returns when both his elder brother and his father die and he is the Earl of Edenstorm.
Kept captive by her dastardly, politically ambitious brother Cyril. Lady Juliette escapes to her friend Lady Lydia Brand, who takes her to Lydia's mother's house in Looe, Cornwall. There Lady Juliette become Miss Jane Darrow, Lady Brand's companion for the next 4 years.
She is terrified of her brother finding her because he intends to commit her to an asylum. However, if she can just last another 3 months in hiding, then she will be 21 and her brother will no longer be her guardian and won't be able to touch her.
Edenstorm and his friend Rokeby, who works for the Home Office, are in Looe to try and track down "Guinea Jack" a smuggler and traitor who is passing English gold to the French. Still bitter about what happened 4 years ago, Edenstorm tries to blackmail Jane into telling him who the local smugglers are. Telling her that if she doesn't cooperate he will let her brother know where she is. Jane feels that she is between the devil and the deep blue sea. She cannot/willnot betray her friends in Looe and doesn't believe that any of them are traitors. On the other hand she must not be given up to her brother. So she decides to lead Edenstorm on a wide goose chase.
The rest of this very entertaining novel is taken up with Edenstorm being hoodwinked by the local smugglers; he and Jane falling in love with each other; running from her brother Cyril who has discovered where she is; both being kidnapped by the smugglers and put aboard a lugger headed for France.