In 1816, Mrs Bettismore lies on her deathbed. Her twenty-year old granddaughter, Amelia is distraught by the imminent loss of her only relative, who has raised her in an atmosphere of seclusion and unyielding discipline. Amelia inherits her grandmother’s fortune, but after such a sheltered upbringing she finds herself lost and alone. Her emotional growth, stunted by Mrs Bettismore, she is afraid to do or say anything of which her grandmother would disapprove. The heiress is unprepared for her introduction to Saunton, her guardian’s noisy household and his family of irrepressible sisters. Will this cause Amelia to retreat into herself even more, or will a home filled with love and high spirits change her outlook and encourage her to find love? Or do the long-hidden secrets of her birth threaten to spoil everything?