The Reluctant Earl is the story of Claire and Simon, who desperately want to get married despite all the obstacles that stand in their way. Their biggest hurdle is the fact that Simon is the son and heir of the Earl of Welbourne, while Claire is the daughter of the earl’s Irish horse trainer. The youngsters are keenly aware that their parents would violently oppose such an unequal union – which is precisely why they never confide in those parents.
Then there is Simon’s father, who, for reasons Simon has never understood, clearly hates his son. Then there is the mystery of Simon’s mother’s death, and the fact that he has never met a single member of her family. Then a miracle happens - Simon learns about a trust fund left to him in his mother’s marriage settlement.
Once the money is in his pocket, Simon and Claire decide to elope; and the simmering pot that is Welbourne Abbey and its inhabitants explodes.