A woman in desperate straits ... A fearless man ...A marriage of convenience on turbulent waters ...
Cerynise Kendall has been left destitute and in dire need following the death of her doting patron and protectress. A brilliant young artist tossed from her home with only the clothes on her back, Cerynise must now turn to a childhood companion for assistance - the dashing sea captain Beauregard Birmingham and beg him to provide her with passage to the Carolinas. She seeks a new home and a new life across the waters, but all depends upon the kindness of a charming adventurer who was once the object of her youthful infatuation.
Beneath Birmingham′s rugged exterior beats a heart as large and wild as the Atlantic, and Beau readily agrees to aid Cerynise - even offering her his name in marriage, albeit temporarily, to protect his long time friend from scandal. But perilous secrets, determined enemies and tempests of the sea and soul threaten their future and safe passage even as bonds of camaraderie are miraculously reforged as bonds of desire ... and affection becomes passion and love.
Cerynise Kendall's beloved elderly sponsor dies unexpectedly, leaving Cerynise to deal with the woman's heir, Alistair Winthrop. As much as she dislikes Alistair--a difficult man to say the least--even Cerynise hadn't expected him to evict her from her home, which he does without a second thought. Cerynise makes her way to the London docks and finds that fortune has smiled upon her, for a ship captained by a childhood friend, Beau Birmingham, is in port. Beau remembers Cerynise very well and is determined to return her to her uncle's home in the Carolinas. But when Alistair appears and demands that Cerynise be turned over to him as his ward, Beau swiftly arranges a wedding and the two enter into an agreed marriage of convenience. Beau is well aware that he's committed himself to several months of torture, for he wants the lovely Cerynise with a driving passion that threatens to consume him. For Cerynise, the pretend marriage is both heaven and hell. Though she desperately loves Beau, she's sure that his love of the sea leaves no room for a real marriage. Upon reaching Charleston, both Beau and Cerynise believe that they've left trouble far behind, but Alistair is not yet finished with this unsuspecting young woman who stands between him and a fortune. Simmering with passion, The Elusive Flame is classic Woodiwiss. --Lois Faye Dyer