Lisette, 21-year-old daughter of Humphrey and Phillipa Van Lindsay of Regency London (large in familial pretension and sparse in purse), is having the weeps because the man she hoped to marry, Tristram Leith, has married Rachel Strand instead. But soon Lisette has two new suitors: dandified, seemingly important, and certainly charming James Garvey, who makes Lisette a Toast of the ton; and, aggravatingly, Justin Strand--who's gaunt, repellently fascinating, and none other than Rachel's brother (returned from India rich as a nabob). So, when the Van Lindsays discover that Garvey is actually deeply in debt, they force Lisette to make the Supreme Sacrifice and marry Justin--whom she loathes. But Justin disappears on their wedding night; another night of love is quashed when Justin trips over the bulldog Brutus-the former property of his best friend Lord Bolster. And though Justin's essential goodness is evident to Lisette's younger siblings and her feisty old grandmother, the marriage is a horrid stalemate. . . until Garvey's renewed attentions (involving duels, French spies, state-secrets, and a stormy combat-at-sea) bring true love out of hiding. Regency folderol without the light Regency touch; over-padded and heavy-footed throughout.