At seventeen, Miss Sophie Baker is looking forward to her debut in society. She’s only a few months away from graduating from a prestigious ladies’ academy and her future looks bright. Then her father dies suddenly, destitute after having been swindled by a con man. Sophie’s whole world changes and instead of a season and balls and pretty dresses, she’s left to fend for herself, making a living as a governess. She blames the Earl of Ashby for her change in circumstance, as it was his former business manager who swindled her father. Had the Earl publicly denounced the man instead of just firing him, Sophie’s father would never have lost everything they owned.
Five years later, having successfully saved up nearly enough to achieve her dreams of going to America to join her cousins, Sophie comes face to face with the Earl of Ashby. She just doesn’t realise that he’s not the man she thinks he is. Lord Edward Granville, the aforementioned Earl of Ashby, known to his friends as “Lucky Ned” has entered into a wager with his secretary, John Turner. For a period of two weeks, Ned has agreed to switch places with his secretary, to prove that his overall luck, popularity and success with the ladies, especially, has nothing to do with his wealth and title, but just his looks, charm and the luck that always seems to make him come out on top.
Turner proposed the wager both because he wanted to cut his pompous and oblivious employer down to size a bit. If he wins, he gets five thousand pounds to save his family’s failing mill. If he loses, Ned will not only be even more insufferable, as he’ll have been proven right, but he’ll lose the mill once and for all. Trading places, Ned has to make a woman of gentle birth (no low-born and easily coerced servants allowed) fall in love with him and present him with a clear token of her affection. Ned thinks it’s going to be a piece of cake and is also looking forward to showing the stuffy Turner that life as the Earl isn’t always as care free and easy as it looks to be.
Despite the house they’re staying in being full of eligible women, Ned is chagrined to realise that when people think he’s a mere secretary, the same affable behaviour that normally has him welcomed with opened arms, is seen as overly familiar and inappropriate. While he may have spent his first twelve years in genteel poverty before becoming the former Earl’s heir, he’s gotten very used to his easy life of privilege. The only woman who will even give him a second glance is the governess, Miss Turner, and even with her, he has to work much harder than he ever has before to impress her. He has no idea that she blames him for her downfall in life, and by the time he discovers the truth, he’s already fallen in love with her. Can the Earl of Ashby become a decent and likable human being over the course of two weeks and also convince a woman who has every right to hate him that she should spend the rest of her life with him?