At your service, milady...
Eager to escape London following the scandal of her husband's death, beautiful Lady Fieldhurst accepts an invitation to spend the summer in rural Yorkshire at the home of Sir Gerald and Lady Hollingshead. She soon discovers, however, that country life is not the panacea she imagined: tension reigns and tempers flare at Hollingshead Place, due in large part to Lady Hollingshead's ambitions for her daughter Emma, a lovely young lady destined for a brilliant marriage in spite of her love for a penniless curate.
When a dinner party ends with the death of the vicar--a kindly old soul whose only sin appears to be the authorship of a dull local history--Lady Fieldhurst suspects foul play and sends for Bow Street Runner John Pickett, with one stipulation: since she is the guest of the Hollingsheads, Pickett must keep his connection to Bow Street a secret.
Pickett obliges by presenting himself as Lady Fieldhurst's footman, complete with livery and powdered hair. But he soon has his white-gloved hands full sifting through old secrets, uncovering hidden passions, and dealing with a demanding housekeeper--not to mention avoiding the younger daughter of the house, a precocious fourteen-year-old with a schoolgirl tendre for the faux footman. Then there is the problem of Lady Fieldhurst herself, at once an able assistant and an all too pleasant distraction.