Reeling from the death of her parents, eldest daughter Octavia strives to be a source of strength for her sisters. She defies their grandfather's high-handed meddling—and his desire to see the Staunton girls married. She forges her own path to independence, which leads to the gates of Caswell Hall. There, the governess has just quit her post, leaving a vacant spot in the local lord's household.
Simon, Viscount Althorne, is impressed by the sensible, dark-haired beauty, and hires her to teach his wayward young niece. He resents the loss of his carefree bachelor days, and longs to see the child settled so that he may return to London. But one perfect English summer turns their plans upside down, and he becomes inexplicably drawn to the one woman he cannot have—the governess.
Can Simon convince her that he is a gentleman worth loving? Will Octavia allow herself to fall for a man beyond her reach? Or will class and duty separate them forever?