Imogen, a highly regarded, portrait painter, is not unhappily married, but has reached the point that troubles many marriages when familiarity breeds discontent. Her husband, Patrick, doing a dutiful stint in the parish council, becomes deeply involved in trying to stop a ring road round the town, funded by a developer, which would destroy the character of the town: at precisely this moment, Imogen is offered a commission to paint the portrait of one of the local landowners. Lord Beaucourt.
Lord Beaucourt is unhappily married to a very beautiful, grasping woman who despises him and has no compunction in looking for excitement outside marriage. Attempting to capture the sadness of her sitter’s face, Imogen finds her interest turning to something deeper, and Lord Beaucourt finds her sympathy equally beguiling.
Set against a background of village life and local politics, this is the first book of five concerning the lives and loves of various characters who live in, or near, the small, Oxfordshire town of King’s Temsford.