Dulcima Howard, former Gaiety Girl, madame of a fashionable card salon, and mistress of young Lord Ashleigh, yearns for marriage and respectability. But Justin Ashleigh seeks more violent pleasures, for he has inherited the pale amber eyes and the insanely sadistic streak that runs through his family. Deborah York, Dulcima's niece and daughter of a Sussex vicar, falls in love with archaeologist Simon Davidson. But he is still married to Justin's faithless, headstrong sister Caroline. Delia Davidson, Simon's daughter, is infatuated with Peter Maynard, the artist. But he only has eyes for Deborah. These are the ladies of Hanover Square, and the story of how their tangled loves unfolds against the transitory splendour of Edwardian society.