Summer 1815. Gloucestershire heiress Beth Tremoille is impoverished by her scheming stepmother. Now a blacksmiths mistress, she steals money paid by handsome, rich and ruthless Sir Guy Valmer, who considers the Tremoille inheritance to be his. Unknown to Beth, he means to force her into marriage after finding a missing will that reinstates her as her fathers heir. Fearing arrest for stealing, she flees to London, where several brushes with Guy make her realise how physically drawn to him she is. But fear makes her flee again, and under a false name she leases a remote house on the coast of Exmoor. There, believing herself safe, she meets a new love, wealthy landowner Landry Haldane, with whom she embarks upon a passionate affair; but Guy is still on her trail, and is gradually drawing closer. When he finally catches her, she will have to choose her destiny.