Venetia was very lonely after the death of her parents. When her cousin Mary begs her to help to save her from a forced marriage, Venetia is ready to help. Mary was in love with another man and expecting his child. yet the queen wants her to marry the Earl of Mountwood at a moment's notice and go with him to India. A reckless impulse makes Venetia promise to take Mary's place at the altar. She would worry about the consequences later. Lord Mountwood is handsome, but haughty and autocratic, demanding instant obedience from his servants and his wife. When he discovers the trick Venetia played on him, he is furious. On the journey to India, they quarrel and spar, each getting the measure of the other, while the growing attraction between them becomes impossible to ignore.