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Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, has a most unexpected challenge: like all men of his class he must find a suitable wife, but within a year, and if he fails he must forfeit his inheritance. Despite the many alluring young women paraded before him, he picks his neighbor, Miss Leonora Carling. Spirited, educated, and no man's fool, Leonora meets his requirements perfectly. Unfortunately, she has no desire to marry anyone . . .
But then unanticipated danger finds her, and Leonora must beg Tristan for his aid. A mysterious stranger is attempting to force her family from their home, so when Tristan extends his services as protector, she has little choice but to accept. Yet, as they get ever closer to uncovering the source of the threat, Tristan discovers his offer of convenience is becoming an offer of love.