Spy vs spy — with love held hostage between them.
Frances Burton is jubilant when Lord Grimthorpe’s youngest son comes through with a long-expected marriage proposal despite the scandal brought down on the family by her older sister. But could he be having second thoughts? She’s shocked into action when Henry postpones the wedding and sets off for a diplomatic posting in St. Petersburg without her. Determined to hang on to her reluctant bridegroom, she engineers an invitation from Henry’s mother and travels out to Russia, determined to force him to the altar there.
Sir Edward Lindsay chafes at his latest assignment from the Foreign Office: To escort a party of diplomats’ wives and other female relations from London to the British mission in St. Petersburg. It’s 1873, and the clandestine “Great Game” between the British and Russian empires vying for dominance over Europe is entering it final stages. Someone at the embassy is stealing secrets vital to British security, and Lindsay suspects the elusive spy known only as the Spider murdered his brother to protect his identity. Sipping tea and fetching shawls for even a week is almost more than he can bear, despite the distraction of the lovely, headstrong Francie.
Francie soon has reason to regret leaving England. Henry evades her, and the sudden death of a young grand duchess who befriended her leads Francie down a dark path of cruelty, blackmail and deceit. What she uncovers will allow Edward Lindsay to crack the case, but only if she lives long enough to reveal the secret.