A 19th-century English romance filled with parlor-room wit, follows the sharp-tongued and attractive Caroline Fortune as she's sucked into and spit out of a scheme cooked up by her father, Captain Fortune, to make them rich. The plan consists of installing Caroline as the companion (and potential heiress) to Sophia Catling, the wealthy and childless widow of one of the captain's old military chums.
After arriving at Sophia's estate, Caroline finds Sophia to be a bitter hag whose nastiness only intensifies when Caroline receives a letter from an estranged aunt informing her that her father has died.
Caroline leaves Sophia to live with her aunt's family at Wythorpe Manor, where she makes friends with the luminous Isabella Milner, who is preparing for her wedding to Richard Leabrook. Caroline soon realizes she's crossed paths with Isabella's intended and is torn between sparing Isabella's feelings or telling her about Richard's philandering ways. Caroline also attracts the attention of Isabella's brother, Stephen, a callous young man who enjoys trading barbs with her.