Eugenie, cherished only child of Comte de Talcy, is brought up amid the splendours and luxuries of Versaille and the Ancient Regime. But in 1789 Paris erupts into revolution and terror; her father's untimely death alone cheats the guillotine, and Eugenie is forced to flee for her life.
At the age of nineteen, she finds herself homeless and destitute, set down by a small boat on the south coast of England, accompanied only by her maid Marie, and possessed of nothing but the clothes she wears. And when, on the long and weary walk to London, an arrogant gentleman in a sporting-carriage heartlessly splashes Eugenie as he drives by, it is almost more than she can bear.
On reaching London, she is taken under the patronage of Lady Mary Berrington, an old family friend, only to discover that Lady Mary's adored nephew, the Earl of St Osyth - the most eligible bachelor in London - is none other than the heartless gentleman in the sporting-carriage whom Eugenie has vowed to never forgive.
Eugenie's new life is further disturbed when one of Robespierre's agents in London recognises her. A plot is afoot to kidnap Eugenie and bring her back to Paris to face execution. St Osyth could save her but she refuses to ask him and must turn for help elsewhere. Not one but two counterplots develop, both with potentially disastrous results.