Miss Evangeline Grey, intelligent and sensible, has no desire to marry, her reluctance born from the dire warnings of her overly emotional mother. Her father has other ideas, however, and decrees that unless she weds by the spring, he will choose a husband for her.
Prim and proper Evangeline accepts her father's issue with little more than mild alarm. Knowing herself plain of face and sharp of tongue, she believes herself capable of warding off any perspective suitor. Her plan goes awry when the scandalous seducer, Mr. Thomas Masterson, visits her family's home, for Thomas has learned that he must procure a wife to receive his full inheritance.
When he discovers Evangeline's predicament matches his own, Thomas determines to orchestrate a practical arrangement. A war of wit and word results, and Thomas finds himself ever more beguiled by the soft heart he discovers under Miss Grey's stern, inhibited exterior. Patiently, he endeavors to gain her respect and awaken her passions. As tenuous trust blooms between the rake and the reluctant, unfortunate events – and Thomas' past reputation – threaten to destroy the peace and happiness he has found within the bonds of his Practical Arrangement.