The Devil's Web by Mary Balogh
The Devil's Web
A Novel

This is the third book of the Web trilogy. It is preceded by The Gilded Web and Web of Love. All three are books that were first published fifteen years or so ago.

Lady Madeline Raine, beautiful, charming, and vivacious, has been routinely falling in love for a number of years. And recently she has been trying desperately each time to persuade herself that finally she has found the one and only man with whom she will be happy for the rest of her life. In Web of Love she was even engaged for a while to a military officer who had been severely wounded in the Battle of Waterloo. But she cannot forget James Purnell, whom she met three years ago when his sister married her brother. At the time the two of them were like oil and water, both hating and loving each other. The last time she saw him was at a ball at her brother's country home, when she told him she loved him and he left her--and England. She has not seen him since.

James Purnell convinced himself many years ago that he could never be happy--that he could never deserve to be happy because he had once destroyed the life of someone who was innocent and weaker than he. And so three years ago he fought against the feelings he had for Madeline and finally left England to go to Canada and join a fur trading company. For three years he has been living and traveling in the wild and primitive interior of Canada. He has made peace with himself and has been almost happy. He is considering marriage to his employer's daughter. But the lure of home is bringing him back for a few months to fetch the furs to market. As the coast of southern England comes into sight, he realizes that he has never been able to forget Madeline.

For a while after they meet again, nothing seems to have changed between the two of them. They avoid each other whenever they can and quarrel whenever they can't. And yet they are powerfully attracted to each other. When it comes time for James to return to Canada, they both convince themselves that they are happy about it, that now at last they will be able to forget each other. However, fate intervenes and throws them together in a totally unexpected way. Will they destroy each other? Or will they somehow fight their way through to a place of understanding, where they can find pardon and peace--and love and happiness together?

Dell Historical, ISBN 978-0-440-24307-6

The Devil's Web by Mary Balogh