Orphaned young, Philip was raised as if his son by childless uncle Ambrose Ashly, who never brought women in their lives, until he was sent for medical reasons to a Mediterranean climate, fell in love with half-Italian cousin Rachel and wed her in Florence. Philip receives a worrying letter suggesting Ambrose is in mortal danger, blaming his wife and her 'diabolic' lawyer friend Rainaldi. Ambrose is dead by the time Philip arrives there, but remained the sole heir as a testament in her sole favor wasn't passed before the notary. He prepares he widow an icy welcome, but falls instantly in love the day she arrives on the large Ashley estate. Against his godfather, attorney Nick Kendall, also father of his only, now practically ignored female friend Louise, besotted Philip resolves to claim from the estate he's about to inherit reaching majority to give to Rachel, who becomes his lover. Trusting blindly in love, he prepares a document transferring Ambrose's entire estate to her unless she remarries, but the result is chillingly disappointing, like emerging evidence that Ambrose suspected her of poisoning him.