Her heart moved by the plight of a desparate young man convicted of thievery and sentenced to the penal colony in Australia, Phoebe Brackenton has embarked on a dangerous career - aiding such unfortunates with her family's wealth. Purchasing their release from prison, she then supplies them with the means to begin again. Yet after five years of her clandestine work, Phoebe suspects a trap, and a carriage idling near the docks is her only hope of escape. Its occupant, Lord Galen Townsend, may be shocked by her whispered explanation - but Phoebe is transfixed by his charming smile.
Looking for his wayward brother in London's hells, Galen is indeed amazed to find a young lady of good breeding instead - and one who has apparently forsaken polite society to aid the impoverished. Astounded by her story, and her courage, Galen offers Phoebe the sanctuary of Thistelwood Cottage - and his own help in her mission. After all, the life of a well-to-do bachelor pales in comparison to the thrill of running from the authorities with a woman so lovely. But although he knows the danger they face together is quite real, Galen begins to suspect that the greatest risk is losing his heart.