Penelope Ashford may be rich, but she also has a social conscience. As Portia Cynster's younger sister, she is forceful, wilful and blunt to a fault - and she has for years devoted her considerable energy and intelligence to caring for the forgotten orphans in London's East End. But now her charges are mysteriously disappearing and, in desperation, Penelope turns to the one man she knows might be able to help her - Barnaby Adair.
Handsome scion of a noble house, Adair has made a name for himself in certain circles where his powers of observation and deduction have seen him solve several unsavoury crimes. Despite his skills - or perhaps because of them - he makes Penelope distinctly uncomfortable, but the stakes are too high. Throwing caution to the wind, defying every rule for unmarried ladies, she appears on his doorstep late one night determined to recruit his talents. However, soon the pair are in more danger than they could have ever imagined.