In 1817 Earl Simon "Satan" St. John allowed the drunken opponent to survive their duel; afterward he observed a young woman rush to foolish Yelverton, who upon seeing her, shot himself in the head. Simon, at the urging of the deceased's second the odious Viscount Ogden, agrees to serve as guardian to the grieving sister Victoria, who loathes him.
Simon plans to marry the beauty off to an acceptable man who will be an aristocrat as soon as possible. On the other hand, Victoria is sick of stupid males misbehaving with no care about others. Meanwhile Simon, a cynic when it comes to love, finds he is attracted to his ward. He struggles with the fact that all women are cheats and whores, but Victoria seems honest and refuses to sell herself to him or any bidder. Still he sees her price even as he refuses to see anyone but him making love to her.
The lead characters keep this strong regency romance from being a historical soap opera as they seem real and their changing relationship plausible. The story line contains some action, but is clearly driven by Satan and his angel as she sensing his inner goodness and helps him overcome the trauma that owns his soul. Sub-genre fans will enjoy PISTOLS AT DAWN.