Marcelline Noirot is the daughter of two notorious scoundrels and swindlers, but is determined to make an honest living as a dressmaker, aided by her two younger sisters. She runs a fashionable and fairly successful establishment, but most of the rich and noble ladies still stay loyal to her competitor. Maison Noirot could use a truly high profile client, and when rumour has it that the Duke of Clevedon is finally returning to London to propose to his best friend's sister, Marcelline decides that said high profile client will be Lady Clara, the future Duchess of Clevedon.
To secure this contract, she brings her most spectacular outfits and hunts down Clevedon in Paris. He, like every man who sees Marcelline, is instantly smitten, and is rather astonished when Marcelline doggedly pursues him not for his looks or status, but to fashion outfits for his intended bride. Having lived a life of leasure and frivolity on the Continent, Clevedon is determined not to disappoint his friends in England any longer, and having faithfully corresponded with Lady Clara throughout his European adventures, he knows that he must "come up to scratch" and propose. Once he meets Marcelline, however, he can't seem to get her out of his thoughts, and he finds that he has nothing to say in his letters to Clara.
Marcelline is charmed by the Duke, but knows that no dressmaker will get wealthy female clients if they think she steals their men. She wants a strictly professional relationship with Clevedon, and flees Paris when it is clear that he is attracted to more than the dresses she wears. When she meets Lady Clara, she likes the lady a great deal, and helps the young woman realize that she doesn't have to listen to her domineering mother in matters of fashion, or on how to live her life. Her plan to make the future Duchess the best dressed woman in London seems to be going swimmingly, until Maison Noirot burns to the ground, leaving Marcelline, her sisters and her daughter homeless.
In Silk is for Seduction Loretta Chase has the difficult task of convincing the reader that the hero and heroine getting together, possibly at the cost of a very nice third party's happiness. Lady Clara is a beautiful, smart and likable character, and it's only through very clever writing that Clevedon doesn't come across as a total cad. It's clear that Chase is also setting up Marcelline's two younger sisters (a blonde AND a redhead - Marcelline is a brunette) as heroine's in future novels. I hope Lady Clara gets her happy ending in one, as well.