The appealing conventions of the 18th-century novel decorate this light-fingered historical romance. Outspoken, beautiful Lotta Chilton is parentless and poor. Hiring out as companion to the haughty old Duchess of Karr, she wins the heart of the young heir but has scruples because of their difference in station. At the Duchess' annual house party, Lotta watches while Jessica Cawley, scribbler of roman a clef Gothics, twirls (via a mysterious gypsy and a stage-managed ghost) into the arms of the man she once satirized and now loves. And fellow guests Lord and Lady Stanton are being blackmailed to the ground by ruthless adventuress Countess di Tremini, who knows that Lady Stanton either had a child out of wedlock in Italy or else is bigamously married now. If it could only work out that Lotta were the misplaced baby, she could marry her blueblooded Karr. Fear not--all's for the best in a world where every gypsy is a true lover in disguise and all the pumpkins are secretly coaches.