Charles Macdonald and his parents, exiled Scots, take refuge at the splendid and decadent eighteenth-century Versailles court of Louis XV. Charles, a ruthless and degenerate young man, is soon forced by his gambling debts into an arranged marriage with his cousin, Anne. Anne is beautiful and wealthy—and in love with Charles. But none of this prevents him from carrying on with his mistress, the Baroness de Vitale, who in turn inflicts cruelties and humiliations upon Anne.
When Anne finds that her life is in danger, Charles must decide what sort of man he wants to be, and which woman he truly cares for.