He treasures her innocence. He will woo her like a lover. But she will be his mistress, bought and well-paid. Bryn, the Earl of Caradoc, uses his wit and arrogance to hide memories of the whispers surrounding his father's painful, lingering, and scandalous death from a rake's disease. He longs to meet the woman he can love for the rest of his life, but she has not yet crossed his path. Determined to shield himself from his father's fate, he chooses virgins as his mistresses, rewarding them with handsome sums. Clare Easton, the orphaned daughter of a vicar, has two young brothers to raise and very few choices. Indeed, to provide them a good education, she has only herself to sell. Strong-willed, smart, and adaptable, she survived a sadistic stepmother and has the scars to prove it. For a good cause, she is strong enough to weather the loss of her reputation in the embrace of a handsome aristocrat. And yet . . . neither Clare nor Bryn is prepared for the sparks of desire or the passionate battle of wills that engulf them from the moment they meet. Determined to make her his willing lover, he spends days unlocking the doors between them-but finds himself losing ground as she advances inside his secret vaults as well. For Bryn, whose world is shuttered in narrow hues, Hell itself is falling in love with a commoner who refuses to stay with him when their contract ends. He is determined to keep Clare in his life, but he cannot put her at risk when he becomes the target of a killer. Nor can she bring herself to abandon the man she has come to love, whatever the danger to herself.