Mrs. Regina Stansbury, a woman of high fashion and dwindling fortunes, has just trapped London's most courted bachelor into agreeing to marry her daughter Cordelia. Though young Miss Cordelia Stansbury has admired the handsome and dashing Gervaise Valerian for years, she is mortified by the circumstances of their engagement. Duty bound to obtain her father's consent for this match, Miss Stansbury becomes lost at sea while traveling to meet him in Egypt. But Valerian's hopes for a long and carefree bachelorhood are dashed once again when Miss Stansbury reappears after a year spent shipwrecked on a desert island.
Ignoring the Code of Honour, Valerian rescinds his offer of matrimony. To restore the family name, Piers Cranford, a distant cousin of Valerian's, is bullied into proposing to the disgraced young lady. His offer is rudely rejected, but under pressure from his great-uncle General Lord Nugent Cranford, Piers is forced to pursue Miss Stansbury or risk losing his family manor. Piers is reluctant to marry a haughty girl he barely knows, especially now that he has just met a delightfully intriguing young lady named Mary Westerman...
His worries are compounded when his estate is plagued with a series of disasters. Are these troubles linked to old foes from the Jacobite Rebellion, or could they be the work of a mysterious bidder, intent on bringing down the value of Muse Manor and buying Piers Cranford's beloved family estate?