Anne Webster, daughter of an imprisoned Luddite minister, is fortunate to have a position in the home of the Duke of Marston. She is shocked when a man in beggars clothes claims he is the Duke's long lost son Ruel Chouteau, Marquess of Blackthorne, returning from America.
Anne witnesses the unusual meeting between Ruel, his brother Alex and their father. He makes sport of Anne when he proposes marriage to convince his father that no one wants him.
Ruel convinces Anne he wants to marry her, but not for love, rather for her skill at lace making. Ruel has plans to increase the family's dwindling fortunes. Anne accepts Ruel, believing she can get her father out of prison.
The marriage is supposed to be in name only, but neither Ruel nor Anne can fight their attraction. Anne senses Ruel's need for love and Ruel fuels the awakening of her long-buried emotions.
Anne and Ruel travel to Brussels to set up a factor just before Napoleon makes a final stand at nearby Waterloo. Ruel is wounded, Anne is caught in the thick of battle and believed dead.
Ruel and an old friend travel to America while Anne and her maid set up the factory. It will take fate and a miracle to bring the lovers together again.
This romance is filled with many intriguing characters, each with their own fascinating story. SENSUAL (Aug., 400 pp., $5.50)