The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman. His intentions are purely practical - he simply wants someone sensible and suitably lovely to pose as his betrothed for a few weeks among polite society. He has his own agenda to pursue, and a false fiance will keep the husband-hunters at bay while he goes about his business. The simplest solution is to hire a paid companion. Finding the right candidate proves more of a challenge than he expected. But when he encounters Miss Elenora Lodge, her feisty manner and golden eyes sway him to make a generous offer. Elenora's sorry financial circumstances - and dreams of a life of independence - leave her little choice but to accept. But St. Merryn appears to be hiding a secret or two, and things seem oddly amiss in his gloomy London home. Elenora soon discovers that this lark will be a far more dangerous adventure than she'd been led to believe. And the Earl of St. Merryn will find that the meek and mild companion he'd initially envisioned has become a partner in his quest to catch a killer - and an outspoken belle of the ball who stirs a bothersome passion in his practical heart.