Renowned for his lavish lifestyle and a roving eye, the handsome Valient, Viscount Ockley, is completely bowled over by the stunning heiress Niobe Barrington.
But it is not just for her dazzling beauty that he pursues her with such ardour for, although he lives like a King, it is all on credit.
In reality he is all but bankrupt and is facing the horror and squalor of the Fleet Prison for debtors and only by marrying into money can he hope to save himself and restore his ruined house to its former glory.
But Niobe’s father, Sir Aylmer Barrington, will not hear of it and so arranges for Niobe to marry the ‘old and horrid’ Marquis of Porthcawl!
When Niobe breaks this unwelcome news to him, the Viscount storms from her house in a rage and threatens to marry the first woman he meets rather than let anyone know that Niobe has totally humiliated him.
As he drives away in his phaeton, he meets the woman he will soon marry — an eighteen year old beauty who has stowed away under a blanket at his feet.
It is Niobe’s cousin, Jemima Barrington, who is fleeing the abuse and beatings she constantly suffers at Sir Aylmer’s hands.
And so in a sudden marriage of convenience the ‘wrong’ Miss Barrington becomes the new Viscountess Ockley causing outrage and consternation amongst all but Jemima, who is already deeply in love with the Viscount.
The question of the moment is will the Viscount ever overcome his love for her cousin?