Madeline Mercer is illegitimate, her mother a brothel owner. At Madeline's boarding school, a professor threatens to expose their secret. Her mother proposes Madeline marry an English nobleman whose power could protect them from scandal. On the road to Conclarton Castle, Madeline befriends a soldier and risks their plans and her heart. Robert Oswyn, Eighth Duke of Conclarton, never wanted the title. As the spare, he would marry for love. While fighting against Napoleon, he learns his father and elder brother are dead. Believing they were murdered, he vows to find their killer. Madeline helps him discover the truth, and her kindness, inner beauty, and desire to help others wins his love. But will duty and secrets keep them apart?