Charity Gambler is the daughter of a vicar, but the granddaughter of a duchess and she can look forward to being a stunning success in her debut season. Two gentlemen, the serious and virtuous Bertrand Althorp and the witty, profligate Lord Nicholas Dellacorte, are vying for her hand in marriage.
Charity doesn’t know which to choose: she thinks that her late father would have wanted her to marry Mr. Althorp, the son of a Member of Parliament who is highly regarded for his work as a reformer. Yet she cannot help being drawn to Lord Nicholas, even though he has lost a small fortune to Mr. Althorp at the card tables. But Mr. Althorp is going to use the money to benefit the foundling home his father has established. Charity wonders if that makes everything all right. Her wise and worldly grandmother, Lady Claridge, will allow Charity to choose the man she prefers, but her grandmother will decide how much her granddaughter will bring as a marriage settlement.
Then Charity learns that Lord Nicholas plans to abduct her in order to force a marriage so that he’ll have control of her money. She is shocked, and accepts the protection of Mr. Althorp. As Charity learns that things are not always what they seem, and virtue is sometimes vice, she must decide which man is the right one for her.