Thirteen-year-old Emily is sent by her now deceased mother, Sophia, to her father, The Earl of Grover, at Grover Hall. She finds Grover Hall in disrepair with only an ill and old caretaker there and her father not in residence. She knows nothing about his present circumstances only that she is his bastard child. Her worst fear is that she will be turned out onto the streets.
Henry Ashton, Earl of Grover, is now cavorting on the Continent trying to drown his pain at what he considers a betrayal by his love, Sophia, and death of his parents by sinking himself into as much alcohol and women as possible. He had left Grover Hall over thirteen years ago leaving Grover Hall to neglect.
Lady Georgina Langston, furious at having been ignored by Henry, still harbors wrathful feelings toward him and is determined to seduce him and then enact her revenge.
Grace Applegate, hired by Henry to be Emily's governess, develops romantic feelings for Henry, but knows her station is to far below his to allow herself the manifestation of her emotions. A series of supposed accidents plague and injure Grace and Emily.
Each of them work to untangle their fears and desires.