It's Beauty and the Beast in the Garden of Eden, when Lady Demelza (Melly) Ahern, and Tristan (Drake) Hannaford, Earl of Shelldrake clash head-on at Drake's Lair, the earl's Cornwall estate. Drake, returning from five years at war on the Peninsular, finds Melly gathering herbs on his lush, burgeoning land, confiscates her gathering basket, and forbids her to gather there again.
Melly, impoverished by her father's gambling debts, and shunned by the ton after his subsequent suicide, turns to her love of making herbal preparations for her livelihood. Evicted by the strange, brooding earl without explanation, she is determined to find out the reason that no one will tell. Sparks fly when they fall in love. But is love enough to bear the earl's dark secret? Can two so totally different and strong-willed souls at cross purposes ever join, or will that secret tear them apart?