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Like most people in London in the impoverished 1920s, Joan Baldwin has her crosses to bear. Her biggest one by far is her husband: a good-for-nothing drinker and gambler, but one day he perishes in a fire of his own drunken making and Joan is set free.

As a maid, her talents at sewing are noticed and encouraged and when her kindly employer dies leaving her £200, she takes another plunge – setting up Distinct Designs, which soon becomes a thriving fashion establishment.

But will she ever be successful in love? When she meets Eric Roussel, a charismatic businessman it looks like happiness will finally be hers. Is he everything he’s cracked up to be? With an exotic, foreign background, he’s certainly different. Just how different is something that Joan is only just beginning to learn . . .