Lonley London pawnbroker. Nathan Hines, finds a note with a dying woman's plea for help in the pocket of a hocked gown. Compelled to discover the fate of the writer and her child, he is drawn into the world of an idealistic young heiress. Angela Burdett-Coutts who, plagued by opportunists and fraudsters, must discover how best to fulfil her ambition to do good.
Meanwhile, others with unscrupulous motives or criminal intent are more than ready to exploit the generosity and compassion of those with the wealth and moral commitment to help the poor and destitute.
Set in mid-Victotian London, with a cast of fictitious characters and real individuals such as Miss Coutts herself. Charles Dickens, her lifelong friend, and the ageing Duke of Wellington, the story explores themes of social inequality and moralities underpinning people's acts of kindness, generosity and criminality.