by Georgette Heyer
Goodreads rating: 3.92
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THE HIGH STAKES OF LOVE
Skilled in the art of card playing, Deborah Grantham, a gambler's daughter, uses that skill as her sole means of support as mistress of her aunt's elegant and exclusive gaming club in 18th-century London. The beautiful young mis must find a way to restore herself and her aunt to respectability, preferably without accepting either of two repugnant offers. One is from an older, very rich and rather corpulent lord whose reputation for licentious behavior disgusts her; the other from the young, puppyish scion of a noble family whose relatives are convinced she is a fortune hunter.
Lady Mablethorpe was aghast. Her young son Adrian was marrying Miss Deborah Grantham--a gambling-club wench! Thus she sent her trusted nephew, the vastly wealthy, clever, and imperturbable Max Ravenscar, speeding to the faro tables to buy the hussy off. To Ravenscar's surprise, Deborah turned out to be remarkably handsome, witty, and--he could scarcely believe it--well-bred. Nevertheless, he expected she'd be grateful for the price he offered to give up her young suitor. Arrogant Ravenscar comes to buy her off, an insult so scathing that it leads to a volley of passionate reprisals, escalating between them to a level of flair and fury that can only have one conclusion....