Lady Summer St. Catherine is an innocent, but not very lady like, young woman raised on the Cornish coast with her younger brother, Spencer (nicknamed Spider). With their mother dead and their father a wastrel, who spends all their money and all his time in London, they are left quite alone and cannot afford food, much less a servant. When Summer and Spider stumble into a smuggling opportunity, they take advantage of it in order to survive.
Soon after, their father dies and Summer goes to London to stay with their aunt (a wonderful character). It is there Summer learns her father has mortgaged away their beloved home, Roseland. Her aunt, who is teaching her to be a lady, convinces her the way out of her troubles is to marry a wealthy man. Summer takes on the role of a lady and sets her cap for the neighboring Cornish lord, Ruark Helford, a friend of the king. She manages to win Ruark’s affections, both of them falling in love. Ruark has no idea his new bride is a smuggler and when she confesses, his violent temper destroys their relationship. But Ruark’s younger brother, Rory, a pirate, will come to Summer’s rescue providing her all the love she can no longer have from Ruark.
Henley is a master of historic romance. Few romance writers today bring such rich (and accurate historical detail to their historical novels. This is a well-told pirate tale and I highly recommend it.