When Lady Sabina spitefully volunteers her well-educated cousin Rowena as temporary personal clerk to Chaucy Shire’s sheriff, she cannot refuse. An unmarried young woman with dead parents and nothing to her name has little choice.
But Rowena dreads it. She has heard a lot about the darkly handsome Sir Richard: heartless, hot-tempered, impossible to please, just plain bad... As she meets Sir Richard's cold, unnerving stare for the first time, the future does not look good. But Rowena is not the only one with a problem. Sir Richard is even more panicked about his frighteningly cunning new clerk's presence at EaglestoneCastle than she is herself, and appears determined to intimidate her into leaving.
Unfortunately for him, an equally determined Rowena is hell-bent on getting to the bottom of her new master's mysterious woes before he loses everything. Sir Richard’s fury at the meddling of a lowly clerk whom he cannot sack because of her connections is intense, and his flashes of unexpected tenderness towards her only add to the confusion.
But with the local people growing increasingly angry at their sheriff’s failure to find those responsible for three local kidnappings, he is forced to enlist Rowena’s help. Can this precarious, reluctantly amicable pair catch the villains who have been carrying off Chaucy’s maidens before they strike again?
Then the stakes become higher than ever when the man whom Rowena thought she would never, could never, love challenges his greatest enemy to a fight to the death. Will he triumph, or will his life bleed away into the dust, and her heart with it?