At the end of a long, hard day’s work, Esther can stand in the barn doorway and survey her beautiful Perry Farm with a sense of contentment. She lost her father in the Civil War, and she, her mother and her sister are three women alone. Yet she could not be happier with her hands in the soil and her heart in the land. She plans to marry a handsome farm-hand and rule over her little kingdom like a queen.
Yet dark days are ahead. With deepest sorrow, she loses her mother to the wracking coughing disease of tuberculosis. Esther and her sister Lara suddenly face a crushing debt on their farm, too mountainous to overcome. A greedy neighbor shoves a mortgage deed in front of Esther, forcing her to sign. What will happen to her? How will she take care of Lara? With no home or family, the Perry sisters are orphaned and alone.
On the final afternoon of owning her farm, Esther greets a strange guest. The haughty woman and her grand carriage are out of place in a farm town like Bayview, Maine. She introduces herself as Lucia Curtis and informs them she is their aunt. Esther and Lara are shocked – their mother never mentioned a sister. Aunt Curtis has an incredible proposal: she will take the Perry girls to Portland, Maine and give them a place to live for six months.
Farewell to Perry Farm, and a new life awaits Esther and Lara in Portland. There will be cousins to meet, an uppity social circle to move amongst, and a handsome architect proclaimed as the most eligible bachelor in the city. Yet Aunt Curtis has her own plans for Esther. Will Esther be able to overcome her sorrows and find a new happiness in Portland? Can she attract Henry Vallencourt’s admiration before he makes an ill match? And what of her mysterious uncle and the secrets behind the locked bedchamber?