The heroine is a young woman whose family inhibited her early years. When her mother died in a hunting accident, her father was severely injured as well, making him an invalid. She nursed him and managed their estate for eleven years. It was like her life stood still. He restricted her movements, making her a recluse. Having no son, the estate was inherited by a cousin. Anne was destitute - she would have to leave when he took possession. But the heir was a soldier fighting in the Napoleonic Wars in Portugal. Anne was asked to continue her duties as manager. She resigned herself to a loveless life - her future was bleak.
A year later, the soldier was injured and sent home in high fevers. She once again had a patient. As he improved, they became friends. Then his old school friend visited and he had an interest in Anne. She feared him as they had quarreled when they last met and he told her terrible rumors of her mother's life in London. Anne and Joseph tried to solve the mystery of the accident, especially the rumor of murder. They shared the tragedy of it, even through the tender beginnings of love. One day, Anne read the letters from her father's security box and they learned the devastating truth, throwing her into great fear and pain. They decided they must take action against the perpetrators and to seek justice, for Anne's sake.