Pamela, is a Lady's maid and after the unfortunate lady passes away, is forced to reevaluate her position with the family. The rowdy, libertine son set his eye on her and not used to being withheld from his desires, his flirtations become more and more aggressive. As she begs to be allowed to return to her poor family, he keeps her in a state of limbo, fear and trepidation. A true villain!
Finally, after attempting to sully her virtue on many occasions, he send her off...but not to her family as she presumes...but to another form of entrapment where she is kept a prisoner for days, waiting his imminent arrival. As she pines for her freedom, her parents and her reputation she plans one failed escape after another and finally weak and distraught, with fear surrenders herself to her fate, after one attempt leaves her bruised and left in a crumple in the coal pile.
Her master comes, and after many an insinuation of his lack of honor...randomly has a major unprecedented moment of character development and goes from villain to hero in a matter of pages. From that point on (and it's another 300 pages) the book lacks the intrigue and excitement and instead reads like awkward loves letters.