In the latest of Anne Perry's Christmas novellas, Jemima Pitt, twenty-three-year-old daughter of Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, travels to New York with her young friend, Delphinia Cardew. Delphinia is on her way to marry Brent Albright at Christmas time, and her father is too ill to make the trip. At just nineteen, she needs Jemima as a companion and chaperone.
Once in the opulent home of the Albright family, Jemima soon learns that Delphinia's absent mother did not die when Delphinia was young, but merely left, for reasons no one wants to discuss. When Brent's older brother Harley explains that Maria Cardew has led a scandalous life, and is new in New York, possibly planning to disrupt the wedding, Jemima is happy to agree to help find her, and persuade her to stay away.
This is, of course, a terrible mistake.