The Loveday family

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Kara Wyse lacked for nothing in her life: the finest gowns and costliest jewels. Then her sheltered life is shattered; her father is arrested for debt and, overcome with shame' commits suicide. His legacy to Kara is poverty - and the revelation that the mother she believes died, years before, was expecting her baby daughter, Beatrice, when she ran off with a lover. This is the first Kara has learned of her sister's existence, and she is determined to discover the whereabouts of her surviving family.

Beatrice Wyse has been brought up in poverty - her mother, Florence, ill with consumption, was unable to protect her from the evil Gilbert brothers, who rule London's criminal underworld. When Beatrice learns of Kara's existence, she is embittered. Why should her own life have been so wretched when her sister has been pampered and spoilt? And she vows that Kara will pay for all the wrongs she has suffered - she will take everything that was Kara's. But Beatrice has been a thief too long to turn truly respectable - for innocence once betrayed can never be regained.