Emily Whittaker's life in Lincoln is one of good works and the closest thing to romance in her experience is her lukewarm relationship with Dr Boyle. A new friendship with Nathalie Fanshawe brings interest to her life and makes possible a welcome visit to the seaside. On her return to Lincoln, she finds that Canon Trimmer and his family have moved into the cathedral close and visiting them is Mrs Trimmer's brother, Sir Gareth Blades. The baronet seems to be a figure of romance and, to Emily's amazement, he appears to be attracted to her. But the arrival of Annis Hughes convinces Emily that there is a mysterious side to Sir Gareth and the discovery of a connection between the baronet and Mrs Fanshawe leads Emily to think the very worst. Is Sir Gareth the gallant gentleman he appears, or a heartless rake and would Emily be better off settling for Dr Boyle after all?