Ruth Winderfield is miserable in London's ballrooms, where her family's wealth and questions over her birth make her a target for the unscrupulous and a pariah to the high-sticklers. Trained as a healer, she is happiest in a sickroom. When a smallpox epidemic traps her at the remote manor of a reclusive lord, the last thing she expects is to find her heart's desire.
Valentine, Earl of Ashbury, was carried home from war three years ago, unconscious, a broken man. He woke to find his family in ruins, his faithless wife and treacherous brother dead, his family's two girl children exiled to school. He becomes a near recluse while he spends his days trying to restore the estate, or at least prevent further crumbling.
When an impertinent, bossy female turns up with several sick children, including the two girls, he reluctantly gives them shelter. Unable to stand by and watch the suffering, he begins to help with the nursing, while he falls irrevocably for both girls and the lovely Ruth.
The epidemic over, Ruth and Val part ways, each reluctant to share how they feel without a sign from the other. Ruth returns to her family and the ton. Val begins to build a new life centred on his girls. But danger to Ruth is a clarion call Val cannot ignore. If they can stop the villains determined to destroy them, perhaps the hermit and the healer can mend one another's hearts.