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William Sinclair becomes Earl of Wellesbourne when he is eighteen following the deaths of his profligate father and brother. He marries then labors to restore the nearly bankrupted estate. Three years later, his wife dies in childbirth, leaving him emotionally scarred and determined to bury himself in his duties.
Katherine Garratt is the daughter of the late Dr Lucius Garratt, a noted archeologist and expert in Roman antiquities found in England. Frederick Blake, her father's colleague, covets the collection and Katherine. She escapes his advances, and begs the village magistrate for help. The magistrate refuses, preferring to believe the respectability Blake assumes. Because her father had spoken favorably of the Earl of Wellesbourne, Katherine decides to appeal to him. En route, she gets caught in a fierce storm. Lightening startles her horse, and she falls from his back, knocking herself senseless on the road.
While Wellesbourne travels home following Parliament's end, his coach stops suddenly. A young woman is lying senseless in the road. Though alive, her pulse is slow and her skin dangerously cold. Wellesbourne brings her to his manor where his servants and the neighborhood physician, tend her. Little does he realize how this young woman will shake him to his core and teach him it is possible to hope again.