Kate Malvern, rescued from penury by her aunt Minerva, hardly knows what to expect at Staplewood - the grand household is so very different from a life spent following the drum in the Peninsular!
But surely, other households are more homelike? Kate's uncle lives in one wing; handsome, moody cousin Torquil in another; though the guests are few, even family dinners are formal. And, when Kate begins to suspect the shocking reason for Minerva's generosity, she has no-one to confide in but cousin Philip - who appears to have taken her in instant dislike . . .