Aurelia Trevor is an only child, nearing her majority when the guardian of her family property dies, leaving her at the mercy of another, rather unsavory uncle. But there is no mercy forthcoming, merely the prospect of a forced marriage to Auuelia's cousin. Drastic measures are needed to maintain her hold on the family estate Pevensey Park, so with the connivance of her long-time governess and now friend, the two women head for London to search out a husband.
The chosen candidate is Thomas Lanning, an unmarried financier, but otherwise not someone Aurelia would have been likely to encounter in her life. The two engage in a `Taming of the Shrew' sort of married life, effectively stopping the efforts of her uncle and cousin to gain the property and the heiress for their own purposes.