Meg Anne Brighton spins a powerful love story about Tess McKinnon, a spirited young woman, alone in the world, intent on creating a meaningful life for herself in Brier Hill County, Ohio. From childhood, Tess had felt the protection of ghosts. They had been part of her family while growing up in the isolated log cabin near a creek called Owl Creek. Tess didn't mean to fall in love with a stranger, a man she knows nothing about. But on that hot summer day, as she was walking on the dusty country road, Sawyer Rhodes came along, and changed her world.
Tess McKinnon, a schoolteacher, is looking for serenity and peace in her life. She was an artist and planned to write children's books to supplement her income. She wasn't looking for a man in her life. But a chance meeting with a Mennonite soon led to romance. She fell in love with Sawyer's easy smile and boyish charm, the first night she met him. That night, Tess had her first kiss in the creaky porch swing at her log cabin. Sawyer Rhodes would change her life.
Tess was surprised when Sawyer told her the old Ford she'd inherited was worth a quarter of a million dollars. Overnight, she had become wealthy. Sawyer had a strong work ethic, and together they transformed her an old bed and breakfast she'd inherited into a palatial estate. They called it Nettle Rose. When Tess suggested a dinner party to meet his family, he confessed that he wasn't the man she thought he was. He was the bastard son of Judge Daniel Stratford, the most prestigious man in Brier Hill County. Sawyer's mother had been his housekeeper.
It was at a dinner party at Nettle Rose that she met Richard Cooper. She was captivated by his rugged good looks, charisma, and enormous success. When Richard reveals dark secrets about Sawyer, she questions the hold he has over her. And before the evening was over, a bout of jealousy comes over her when Sawyer's adopted sister shows a more than ordinary interest in him. She's bewildered when Richard propositions her to become his mistress.
Tess falls in love with both men.