Meet the Duke of Ruisdell, who has just returned wounded from the Napoleonic wars. He is weary, cynical, and very bored. Known as the worst rake in England, he finds he has no interest in upholding that distinction, when his friend, the Marquis of Somerset, proposes a bet: “Five thousand guineas says that seducing Miss Elise Edwards will cure your ennui.” Because his friend has just lost a packet to him, he agrees that the bet be posted in White’s famous Betting Book.
Thus begins a train of unstoppable events–dangerous, humorous, devilish, and amorous–that carry his life along at such a pace that the duke soon knows not whether he is on his head or his heels. And then there is that bet . . .