historical southern romance
From Literary Times
Nicholas DuQuaine is every bit the hero and gentleman from the very beginning. When Jessica McCormick's useless, abusive father tries to sell her (it's as an indentured servant, but he wants more for her because she is a virgin), it is Nicholas who is so appalled by his actions that he not only pays for her himself to get her away from her father, but he makes his feelings of disgust known to him as well! Nicholas knows that his plantation of Bellefleur needs no more help, but once his lovable servants get their hands on Jessica, they take her under their wing and make a place for her. After a life of constant abuse, Jessica is forever shying away from Nicholas, fearing his wrath. Nicholas, of course, would never hurt her, or any woman, but he does have that passionate French nature! The attraction between the two is strong as Nicholas' sympathy for her turns to more romantic feelings. Before long the two are lovers, but Jessica, realizing that she is still his servant and could never be more than his mistress, breaks off their intimacy. Meanwhile, we have a very crazed villainess. Clarice Bouchard is Nicholas' half-sister, though he knows nothing of her existence. Clarice's mother never told Nick's father of her existence, and therefore it was only his legitimate children that inherited the plantation. Clarice begins her evil reign of terror by killing her mother, who refuses to help her in her plan, and then she weaves her way into life at Bellefleur, intent on marrying, then eliminating, our hero. But, alas, she must first get rid of anyone else in her way, which means Jessica.