Anne Jewell is a teacher at Miss Martins' School for Girls in Bath. Anne has a nine year old illegitimate son, David, the result of a violent rape that Anne endured in her past. When Anne receives an invitation from David's father's relatives to spend some time at their family estate in Wales, Anne reluctantly agrees to the vacation. Anne views the trip as an opportunity for her son to bond with his Bewcastle cousins and male relatives, in the absence of a father figure. Sydnam Butler is the steward of Glandwr House, the Duke of Bewcastle's estate in Wales. When the large party of Bewcastle relatives descends upon the estate Sydnam finds himself moving out of the estate and onto a smaller cottage on the property. Sydnam is a bit of a recluse, one whose angelic face and body have been grotesquely disfigured on the right side of his face and body, along with missing his right eye and his right arm. Sydman courageously suffered these injuries as a prison of war during the Peninsula Wars. Shortly after arriving at the estate and while walking on the cliffs, Anne catches sight of Sydnam and is at first awestruck by his beauty, then repulsed by his disfigurement. Much to her shame, Anne finds herself fleeing Sydnam and his disfigurement. The next day, Anne discovers that Sydnam is a Bewcastle relative and a wealthy Earl, despite the fact that he is the Duke of Bewcastle's steward. As Anne and Sydman develop a friendship, each discovers that in each other they have found a kindred spirit. While Anne is tormented by her rape, Sydnam is haunted by his disfigurement and by his belief that no woman will want him. As Anne and Sydman find themselves falling in love, they must look within themselves and each other in order to believe in the healing power of love.
This report prepared by Sandra Calhoune