In 1820s England, 28-year-old Lydia Grenville is a few inches under six feet tall and mind-numbingly beautiful. Clever as well as gorgeous, she is the author of a London newspaper's most popular adventure serial and has also penned scathing articles about the prostitution trade in the city. Her less-than-ladylike occupation, checkered past, and questionable lineage make it highly unlikely that she will ever marry a member of the Regency ton. However, in keeping with a long legacy of hell-raising ancestors, Vere Mallory, the notorious Duke of Ainswood, has a reputation for flaunting society's dictates. Besides, one look at Lydia and he loses his heart, although at the time, it doesn't occur to him that love is what he feels. He terms it lust and sets out to bed the beautiful Lydia.
What follows is an endearing, hilarious contest of wills between a woman determined to hold her heart and body safe, and a man just as determined to conquer her. In a final, winner-takes-all contest, Lydia and Vere come to terms, but neither is sure just who won and just who lost the wager. Is it possible they may both come out winners? Meanwhile, Lydia's very public crusade against the worst offenders in the city's illegal prostitution business has earned her dangerous enemies. Just when it seems that Vere and Lydia may resolve their personal contest of wills, the dark forces at work in the seamier side of London threaten not only Lydia, but also Vere's beloved nieces.