The year is 1818. In Paris the French king, Louis XVIII, is doing his best to establish a peaceful regime. The Duke of Wellington, along with the other members of the Alliance, wants to withdraw the Army of Occupation and allow France to be independent.
At the other end of France at the Chateau de Fontanes in the Pyrenees, Joachim de Montailhac, the youngest of the three brothers, has the job of caring for the family estate. He deals with replanting and maintaining the woods, organising the work of the tenants, villagers and farmers, supervising the family stables and other livestock.
Into his busy life come some unexpected problems, in the form of two sisters. He senses from the outset that they are going to be trouble. And at the same time the unrest that has simmered in the southern French towns spreads into the local area. It is clear the rebels are targeting his family.
Helen [Nell] and Sophie Hartford are cousins of Joachim's sister-in-law, Olivia [see Scandalous Lady]. In the Spring of 1818 they find themselves outcasts from their father's home and are forced to accept Olivia's assurance that the Marquise de Fontanes and her family will make them welcome. Two unhappy girls struggle to fit into the very different lifestyle of the large and slightly exotic Montailhac family.