Wealthy businessman Edgar Downes comes to London seeking a young, well-born wife, having promised his aging father a daughter-in-law by Christmas Day. Instead of the youthful miss he seeks, Edgar finds himself under the spell of Lady Helena Stapleton, a beautiful and sensuous widow his own age with whom he shares an irresistible night of passion. Their liaison surprises the straight-laced Edgar but wounds Helena to the core. Fearing she can only bring destruction to those she loves, she has lived her life on the edge of respectability, deftly avoiding any entanglements. Now that Edgar has breached her protective battlements, she must face her growing love for him. When, to their mutual surprise, Helena discovers she is pregnant, Edgar takes her as his Christmas bride over her protestations of disinterest and unworthiness. They retire to Edgar's country house for a family Christmas, and Helena is thrust among kind, loving people. Despite her best efforts, she finds herself warming to them and to the man who has become her husband--a man determined to find the reason for his bride's pain and bring about the healing necessary for her to accept his love.