Gabrielle Monkton is a young, independent woman, running her own business since her Mother died and her Father lost the plot when she was twenty one. She’s is called back from Paris, where she was studying with some of the finest French chefs and forced to give up her dream of one day being a notable Michelin chef and turning her family hotel and restaurant into a sublime eatery. But she’s worked hard the last three years to get where she is but now at twenty four she needs a little helping hand from the bank to move the business on to the next level. More precisely she needs to borrow three quarters of a million from her Fathers old and trusted friend Percy Ainsworth. He’d been at Oxford with her Father, but was more like a beloved Uncle and than just a family friend or financial adviser. He’d been at her christening, her birthday parties, her graduation. She thought she could trust him, she loved him like an Uncle and thought he had her best interests at heart. How wrong she was.
The money was borrowed in her name but never intended for her at all. She discovers Percy has disappeared with the money and left her to deal with the consequences. The consequences being Olivier Maxwell, CEO of the finance company where the money was borrowed and a man altogether the wrong side of understanding or forgiving. Known for his arrogance, uncompromising stance and of course his playboy antics, how will she ever be able to pay that much money back?
Betrayed, practically bankrupt, she is forced to hand over her business to Olivier Maxwell which at least ensures her Father isn’t turfed out of his home. Disgraced in the hotel and restaurant world she is forced to work for Maxwell to help pay off the debt. Her life is destroyed and she can’t see anyway back to her old life or who she used to be. Her hopes of creating dishes which even the likes of Michel Roux Jnr would write about, are dashed as the small salary she is awarded will take her years to pay off what she owes.
Ruthless, merciless, Olivier humiliates her time and time again, he works her into the ground and taunts her for losing her family business and home. And yet he is mesmerised by her beauty, intrigued by her unending determination to pay off the debt, to save Monkton’s and restore her reputation and deeply impressed by her strength.
He is determined she will never take ownership of Monkton’s until he offers her an alternative; become his mistress, share his bed and attend parties as his woman and after one year the debt will simply go away.
But is she prepared to lose her integrity as well as her home and family business?