A terrific storm on a night in the mid-1850s brings tragedy to Adamslee, an impoverished village on the south west coast of England. The Paloma, a ship bring the 38th Regiment of Foot back home from the Crimea, runs aground with the loss of 412 lives of soldiers, their wives and children. There is one survivor, the mysterious and handsome Joby Lancer. And in the ensuing months Lancer's life becomes entangled with the lives of some local villagers, including a village girl, a farmer's wife, the leader of the local smugglers, and highwayman 'Buckingham Joe'. An insightful story of the powerful alliances formed in difficult circumstances this tale is one of loving and losing, mayhem, murder and hangings.