It is 1865 and Eppie, a young widow with a child to bring up, can't believe her luck when she gets the position of housekeeper to wealthy widower Alexander Geddes. He and his teenage son, Duncan, are a dream to work for, but daughter Lydia is moody, spoiled and temperamental - and convinced that Eppie has designs on Alexander. But Eppie is no gold-digger and Alexander Geddes has intentions that are purely honourable. Intentions that begin to lean in the direction of Lydia's governess - Eppie's sister Marion. Yet although the attraction is mutual, its development is slow. For there are other tensions not only in the household but also in the community. Refusing to train as a physician, Duncan is set on following his heart's desire, to side with his stepmother's kin and pursue his dreams of quarrying the precious local marble. Eppie, now almost a member of the family, feels partly responsible for the rift between father and son. She feels even more responsible when Duncan returns home with a stranger who has a mysterious past ...