When her soldier father died, leaving unexpected debts, Miss Sarah Fairchild swore that her beloved home, Fair Meadow, would not be sold. A firm believer in education for women, she decides to turn the house into a school. Enlisting the aid of her god-mother, the Dowager Countess of Pemberton, she sets off for London to find a patron. The Countess, however, is not entirely on Sarah's side, for she'd rather the lovely young woman marry and raise a family at Fair Meadow than grow old caring for other people's children. The wardrobe she sends Sarah contains not the simple wool dress suitable for a school mistress, but silks and lace more suited to a woman preparing to take society by storm. And the gentleman that she sends to escort Sarah to London is equally unsuitable.
Edward Norris, the Earl of Pemberton may be the Countess's son, but he loves a good hoax. And when they are forced to putup at an inn, Edwards spins such a tale to the inn keeper that once he is caught out by the inopportune arrival of a friend, the only way he can save Sarah's reputation is to make her his Countess. But Sarah will have none of him, for she is a woman of independence who wants to be neither the object of his pity nor the butt of his jests. Yet, before the summer is over, Edward will wish he'd been able to convince her of his sincerity, and Sarah will hope for the courage to wear her heart on her sleeve.