As a young child, Richelda Shaw's ancestral home is sequestered after Charles I's execution. Just before her father abandons Richelda and her mother to flee the country, he makes Richelda promise to reclaim their home one day and find the buried treasure secreted somewhere within its walls.
As Richelda grows to womanhood, her mother dies and she is completely alone and destitute. Only Elsie, her nursemaid and servant, remains to care for her.
Richelda grows up with Dudley, the parson's son and she declares her love for him. But Dudley is ambitious and he yearns to be rich. He makes it known to Richelda that he will never marry her.
Meanwhile, in an effort to honor the promise she made her father, Richelda secures a gun and accosts the man she believes owns her familial home. The man is a Viscount and her attempt to restore her home fails.
Meanwhile, Richelda's wealthy aunt seeks her out and makes her heir to a vast fortune. Richelda once again enjoys the privileges of a life of luxury. Her aunt arranges a marriage for her - to the same Viscount Richelda held at gunpoint.
In her search to restore her ancestral home and locate the legendary treasurer, Richelda fights for freedom and love. Because her heart has always been on Dudley, she fails to open her heart to the Viscount. As she nears discovering the secret treasure, treachery and betrayal threaten her very existence.
Rosemary Morris weaves a splendid tale that kept me awake until the early morning hours. The characters seem authentic and very well developed, changing and growing more complex as the story unfolds. The prose is smooth and flowing. The burgeoning love between Richelda and the Viscount evolves at a realistic pace. I especially enjoyed the tension that led to a highly satisfying ending that was touched with mystery and decorated with gothic detail. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical romance and the Queen Anne or Regency eras of England's turbulent history.