The death of her husband has freed Serena Riverton from life as an abused sex-object, but now her brothers plan to force her into another similar marriage. Fleeing, she is helped by Francis, Lord Middlethorpe. A passionate encounter leaves her pregnant, but no keener on marriage than before. He is virtually committed to marrying a sweet-natured lady. They marry anyway, and struggle to make something of their lives amid the disapproval of all around them.