Tobias Campion, rector of Moreton St Jude, is delighted to welcome the widowed Lady Chase as his parishioner. Charming and generous-spirited, she nonetheless harbours a secret sorrow: her son is missing, presumed dead, and her loathsome nephew Sir Marcus is desperate to declare himself heir to the estate. Much as Tobias dislikes Marcus, his feelings for another member of the family are rather different - the lovely Lady Dorothea enchants him from the very start, not least because of her kindly ways with the enigmatic governess Anne.
Then Anne disappears on the very day that the body of a stranger is found in a local river. Surely she has not had a hand in his death? When it transpires that the man might have been bringing news of Lady Chase's missing son, Tobias is forced to quit the village to uncover the truth. Unfortunately, many of those he encounters in his travels are equally determined to keep the past well hidden...