Laura Aird becomes a successful publishing executive, returning from America and moving to London. However, when her grandmother Violet dies, she leaves her share of the family company to a woman named Olivia Thorpe.
American executive Conrad Tucker sees a photograph in a magazine of the wealthy Aird family's youngest daughter, and begins a quest to discover if she is the result of his affair with her mother Virginia. Determined to learn the truth, he sets out to uncover the family's long-kept secrets along the way.
In a flashback, Laura Aird is seen withdrawing totally from society after tragedy strikes. Hamish Balmerino is concerned about her state of mind, and the forthcoming ball does nothing to improve matters, so her father decides to make her sister Alexa's husband the head of the family business.
Returning to 1870's London after finishing at boarding school, Fanny winesses the death of her father in a fight with Lord Manderstoke. She then finds that her family has for many years been running a bordello next door to their home. When her mother dies shortly after, she next discovers that her real father is in fact a well-respected politician. Meeting him and then falling in love with his young advisor Harry Somerford leads to a life of ups and downs and conflict between the classes. Periodically the scoundrel of a Lord crosses her path, always to tragic effect.