As a member of “The Spinsters’ Club,” Lady Poppy Smith-Barnes is happy. To deter suitors, she’s invented a pretend fiancé based on her cook’s outrageous tales of the Duke of Drummond. This ruse enables her to wait until her childhood sweetheart Prince Sergei arrives from Russia.
Everything is perfect until the duke himself appears. Nicholas Staunton, one of Prinny’s “notorious bachelors” and a spy, is pleased that Poppy is his betrothed. He will no longer be a target for matchmaking mamas and desperate debutantes, enabling him to keep his work secret. But claiming Poppy enmeshes him in a wild adventure. Until Nicholas, Poppy believed Sergei was the only man she could love, but her fiancé is irresistible. Their adventure leads to a painting, uncovering the identity of a spy and an undying passion. (ST. MARTIN’S, Dec., 403 pp., $7.99)