Adam Hawksmore, the Earl of Kerrick, returns from France, only to find himself branded a traitor. Like his ancestors before him, he has pledged his life to king and country. He must clear his name, restore honor to the Kerrick title and find the real spy. But how? If he shows his face in public, he'll be hanged.
The answer comes in the infuriating form of Rebecca Marche, the daughter of Adam's one-time guardian and the girl who just so happened to propose to him before he left for France. Adam hesitates to place Rebecca in danger, but the girl refuses to take no as an answer. In his absence, she has discovered the readings of Mary Wollstonecraft and believes herself a liberated woman. And to make matters worse, she decides Adam should disguise himself as a poet - a purveyor of words, romantic dribble and fancy metaphors. What does he, a soldier, know about words of love? He finally concedes, knowing that no one would ever expect the Earl of Kerrick of such flummery.
Once in London, Adam manages to hold his own as a poet, though his prose leaves something to be desired. A man accustomed to solving his own problems, neither is Adam unprepared for the unsolicited interference from Rebecca, her parents, her aunt and his best friend. No one seems to understand the danger. Before all is said and done, Adam realizes that there is only one thing Mightier Than the Sword - love.