Hampshire, 1850. Under the watchful eyes of her guardian, Lord Edward Sharland, and an excellent estate manager, Beth Langton has been running her large family estate. After a week away, terrible news is waiting for her. The father of her best friend, Lady Helen Denton, has shot himself, leaving Helen destitute. Beth persuades Helen to live with her, although too proud to take charity Helen insists she work as a paid companion. The girls soon settle happily together, but further tragedy awaits. Beth is informed by a stranger that her beloved guardian, away on business, has died. The stranger claims to be Edward's heir, making him her legal guardian – and he has the paperwork to prove it. But can they trust him?