Major Caine Winter is a war hero, the squire of Winterhill, and, quite possibly, the rudest man in England. As a former intelligence officer, Caine Winter holds many secrets. One of them, his unrequited desire for his ward, Elinor Kendall, is about to be revealed.
Elinor, now a woman grown, has returned home to Winterhill, spurning a season in London. The major agrees to let her stay, on one condition. She must follow his rules, and accept his discipline. Elinor agrees, and the struggle for power begins.
Their relations form an intricate dance through pleasure and pain. Elinor submits to Caine's passion and punishment, but yearns for his heart. Elinor is the dream Caine dare not claim, lest his past destroy her.
The tide of fortune turns against them, and Caine reluctantly lets Elinor go. But when Elinor's reckless actions threaten her reputation, the major will go to any lengths to defend her. After all, he has killed to protect her before...