The story begins with twin sisters Meg and Serena Donovan on board a ship home. Meg is on her way to marry her sweetheart, Captain William Langley. Serena, however, is in disgrace, after being caught with Jonathan Dane, the son of the Earl of Stratford. She'd hoped Jonathan had loved her enough to stand up to the gossip, but he'd coldly dismissed her. On their way, a storm brews on the ship, and Meg is tossed overboard, never to be seen again. Knowing Serena will never be accepted into society again, her mother tells Serena to lie and say Serena was the one who actually died. Her mother has also kept up correspondence with Langley, impersonating Meg, so Langley marries her, thus making prospective matches available to her other daughter, Phoebe, who is a teenager.
Serena aka Meg isn't happy with the lie, but realises she doesn't have much choice, as she wants to be accepted again, but doesn't want to hurt Langley. She begins to regret her lie, when she discovers he's still friends with Jonathan Dane, who's now the new Earl of Stratford. As Meg, she says Serena would be hurt, but Langley disagrees, saying he's a changed man. But the more she sees Stratford, the more she struggles to pretend to be her sister.
In the past six years since Jonathan had cruelly dismissed Serena, he's truly regretted his actions. His father had implored him to leave her or face being cut off. Since learning of Serena's 'death,' his life went downhill. He practically stuck two fingers up at his father, began drinking, gambling and womanising. Rumours start he even has a child with someone. He then tells his father before he dies he'll never marry, hating him for making him get rid of Serena.
But when Jonathan sees Meg, he struggles to believe it's actually her. He remembers some of Serena's habits, and when he spots Meg doing them, he confronts her. When he discovers Meg is actually Serena, he vows to make her his. But Serena is hesistant, as she doesn't want to hurt Langley, nor be hurt by Jonathan again. Over time, Jonathan begins to win her trust again, even helping her when Phoebe runs off with a former rake. But Serena realises she must make a decision whether to admit the truth or continue her lie.
Overall, the book was amazing. This is the first book I've read by this author and it won't be the last. I long to read the next one in the series.