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Unable to escape British rule, American orphan Maddie Beauchamp rebels. Coming of age in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars, she remains true to her patriot heritage, even as she forms a makeshift family with her new stepfather, Jack Ashford. But with Jack at sea, Maddie is left in the care of his extended family, and she soon chafes at the attempt to make her more British. Her revolt against tyranny will quickly spiral beyond her control. Although Jack promised to emancipate his stepdaughter when she turns eighteen, he soon realizes that he loves her too much to let her go. He plots to marry her to a man of his choosing, his determination fixed after Maddie's brother uncovers a dark corner of Jack's past that will set Maddie's American relations against her British family. When she attracts the attention of a man despised by the Ashfords, Jack acts in haste to secure his position but fails to consider Maddie's wishes. As the United States and England square off in a fight over free trade and sailors' rights, Maddie will engage Jack in a battle over her right to self-determination, one she intends to win at any cost.