The Marquis of Craigmere, one of the most handsome and attractive men in the Beau Monde, is pursued by an exotic and beautiful married woman called Peony Lawson. The Marquis finds this affaire-de-coeur amusing and enjoyable until Peony says that that she intends to tell her husband what they have been doing and ask him for a divorce. The Marquis is horrified because he was determined never to get married until he is much older and needs to have an heir. He knows, however, that Peony is serious and he will have to be exceedingly clever not to be involved in a scandal that would force him to live abroad for some years.
At Royal Ascot, the Marquis is hoping to win the Gold Cup. He is not successful, but as the race ends he sees the Duke of Hawkhurst, who was a friend of his father's. The Duke has always been in debt and an solution to his Peony problem suddenly becomes clear. He tells the Duke that he wishes to marry his daughter, Natalie, in two days' time. The Duke thinks it strange, but he realises that a very rich son-in-law will save him when he is on the verge of bankruptcy. However, his daughter Natalie is in love with the charming son of a neighbour, who is far from being a rich man, and she is in despair at the prospect of being married to the Marquis. Her cousin, Silva, who is beautiful and intelligent, urges her to elope and promises that she will somehow keep the knowledge of it from the Duke until it is too late for him to prevent it.
Silva arranges for Lady Natalie and the man she loves to set off for Gretna Green and in order to not only save her cousin, but also herself from what has been a life of misery at the Duke's Castle, she takes Natalie's place at the altar.
Find out what happens next in this intriguing and fast moving love story by BARBARA CARTLAND.