When Mary Cole, a butcher's daughter, caught the eye of Lord Berkeley, it was as flint to tinder. A forsworn bachelor, he was taken aback that she refused to be his mistress.Within weeks he'd brought her family to bankruptcy. When, still, she eluded him, he plotted to abduct her. Aided by his corrupt chaplain, Hupsman, the Earl duped his 'shepherdess' with fake nuptials.Tumbling to the truth, Mary became passionately committed to gaining her eldest son's birthright. With an astonishing grasp of pastoral economy, she repaired the Berkeley fortunes while a succession of children compounded her plight.The scandalous activities of Mary's estranged sisters had to be curtailed at the highest level before a legal knot was eventually tied.Upon Hupsman's death, the Earl and Countess conspired to 'find' the registry of the 'first marriage'. The upshot was a sensational trial in the House of Lords whose repercussions were to shake the foundations of the Berkeley dynasty for ever and imperil Mary's life.