Badar Ali returns after ten years in England to India to take his rightful place as Prince of Rajgurat. The unrest in the country caused by the revolt against the East Indian Company has not yet roiled his kingdom, and he wants to keep the peace in his realm. Immediately upon his return he suspects a spy lurking in the Red Palace and he sets out to discover who is it.
Mrs. Elizabeth Wilkins miraculously survived a bloody ambush that killed her husband and his entourage as they traveled from Bombay to Peshawar. After the attack she uses all her wits to get herself to the town of G . There she manages to trick the king’s three favorites into letting her into the women’s quarters of the Red Palace with no man being the wiser. Her relief at finding refuge is temporary because the Prince ferrets out her presence.
Badar Ali recognizes Mrs. Wilkins not as a dangerous spy but as a most welcome political pawn, and he will use her when the time comes to negotiate favorable treatment of his kingdom by the British Raj beginning to take shape. For the moment, he will keep her hidden from the world and safe under his protection. However, he is also determined to enjoy the English beauty and makes her his naked plaything in a game of Look But Not Touch.
Elizabeth is at first shocked and indignant to sit naked on a rug in the prince’s office, hidden from the rest of the world while the prince works. Over time she grows accustomed to the strange, sensual situation and then begins to like it and even long for it.
Eventually the time comes for the prince to move his pawn and Elizabeth leaves the Red Palace. Neither she nor Badar Ali can predict the strength of their attraction when political events throw them together again. Or the choices that attraction will compel them to make.