The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston's position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland. With two months to devise a better plan, Julia's first choice - to marry her childhood sweetheart - is denied. Then, a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, opening a realm of possibilities.
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In Victorian society, where even a whisper of scandal can ruin a life, Julia Elliston much watch her step. London is said to be the glittering jewel of society, a world unto itself, but to Julia Elliston, it is a city of shadows. Now under the protection of Lord Pierson, she is caught up in his desperate plan and thrust into the public eye as his rightful heir. She's the toast of London, a celebrated curiosity, but with the entire city clamoring for more news of the Emerald Heiress, Julia quickly finds it difficult to maintain the illusion.
Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he'd kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined. Just when Julia thinks she's managed to untangle herself from Macy's clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy's lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson's daughter.