Soldier and secret agent during the latter part of the Napoleonic wars; handsome, charming and lover of many women, but saddled with a wife he neither loved nor wanted. Nicholas de Bresancourt, Duc de Valenciennes, was a complex man of many talents, but also a tormented one. Memories of his horrific experiences as a small boy in France before he escaped from the Revolution continued to haunt him and have coloured his whole life.
Obsessed with the mysterious woman he’s had to leave behind in London, someone he can’t stop thinking about, Nicky must nevertheless turn his mind to his mission. He has to run to earth and stop Frederick Bernheim, the agent now plotting to de-stabilize Wellington’s increasingly successful military efforts in Spain.
Frederick Bernheim, son of the man responsible for the demise of Nicky’s parents, his own nightmare incarceration in a grim fortress prison at the age of only four, and guilty shortly after of the nearly causing the death of several of his adoptive relations who had saved his life and helped him escape from France. The coincidence is both surreal and frightening, and memories of what happened to him have plagued Nicky ever since and influenced the entire course of his life.
Despairing of finding any clue to trace his target and now working deep undercover, disguised as an itinerant singer, working in common bars and hostelries, Nicky finally gets a lead through a chance meeting with a young prostitute. However, he’s in Madrid and cut off from Wellington’s forces. With no other help to hand, he runs to earth an old gypsy associate of Francis Granville from his Shadow days, and it’s down to just the two of them to thwart Bernheim’s nefarious plans and dispense with the man himself. However, as Nicky discovers, he’s even cleverer and more dangerous than his late father…