Lady Lucinda has had to learn to live with her evil, corrupt father since her mother died in childbirth. She gets lessons on the ugly side of life from the doxies and brutes who stay over at their house.
At the age of 10, she gets kidnapped by a young Captain Mark Chamfrey, who was cheated out of his money by her father and who hopes to ransom her for payback. His plans go awry, they get caught, and Lucinda's father forces a betrothal on the horrified pair. The humiliated Chamfrey leaves for war on the peninsula, vowing revenge when he gets back.
Eight or nine years later, Lucinda has grown to be a ravishing beauty, but she fears men and physical intimacy. At this time, her father dies, she goes to London to have a season under the guidance of her fiercely protective grandmother, and becomes engaged to a foppish dandy. But Chamfrey, now a marquess, comes back from the war, and falls under the spell of the haunted beauty. Now he wants nothing more than to make good on the engagement...
Trouble starts brewing around the young couple, and they must deal with angry grandmothers, murderous fortune hunters, and Lucinda's fears before they can have a happy ending.