Only after his regiment is recalled to the Continent to fight the horrific battle of Waterloo does Captain Geoffrey Mantell at last see the truth: that Miss Emily Chandry, the unfortunate daughter of the miser next door, is more than his childhood playfellow. He comes back to England after the war to claim her hand, but he is too late—Emily is lost to him, the wife of a stranger who does not seem to care for more than her social connections. Reeling from this turn of events, Geoffrey must try to move on. But Emily's situation will continue to haunt him.
The ruined manor promised her romance, but its master was maddeningly elusive. Prey to gothic sensibilities, Miss Lenora Breckinridge is smitten with the air of tragedy and romance surrounding an abandoned mansion. Convinced that she is fated to become its mistress, she sets out to find the master, secure in the belief that he will fall madly in love with her and they will use her fortune to restore the manor together.
Sir Joshua Stiles wants nothing more than to fill the hole in his heart left by his wife's death, but it seems that women are more interested in his fortune than in himself. Cynical and ready to renounce all females, he is none too pleased when his sister invites her dear friend to visit for the Season.