When Persephone Lancaster receives a marriage proposal from the ill-tempered Duke of Kielder, she refuses, and then reconsiders. The obscene sum of money he's offering Persephone would save her family from ruin. With her characteristic optimism, she travels to the far reaches of Northumberland to wed a greatly feared stranger. Lodged deep in a thick forest infested with wild dogs, the Duke's castle is as cold and forbidding as the Duke himself, a man with terrible scars on his body and his soul. But the Duke's steely determination to protect his heart at all costs is challenged by his growing attachment to his lovely and gentle bride. With caring persistence, Persephone attempts to pierce the Duke's armor and reach the man beneath. Yet he cannot tolerate such exposure, and his repeated rejections take their toll. But when grave danger arises, the Duke realizes he must face the risk of revealing his true feelings or lose the woman he cannot live without.