When her sister, Denise, seven years her senior, and her husband Alistair drowned in a storm at sea, the beautiful nineteen-year-old Pepita Linford is left alone to cope with the care of their young children, Rory and Jeanie, as well as Alistair's huge amount of debts.
Exiled from his Scottish Clan for ever by his father, the Duke of Strathnairn, because he dared to marry an Englishwoman against his wishes they then settled in Hertfordshire. Alistair had been deprived of his allowance from his father and had lived on a fast-dwindling legacy from his mother.
Virtually destitute Pepita has no choice but to travel to Scotland to throw herself and the children on the mercy of the Duke of Strathnairn.
But sadly His Grace, consumed with hatred for the English, is not in the slightest pleased to see them, but grudgingly agrees that they can stay at his imposing Castle for a short while.
Pepita is at once aware of the hostility and dislike of the Duchess of Strathnairn, who does everything she can to make life unpleasant for her and Rory and Jeanie.
Save for the children Pepita finds herself on her own in a hostile country until she finds warmth, kindness and sympathy in the handsome and charming Torquil McNairn, Alistair's cousin.
Soon that warmth becomes an all-encompassing and consuming love for both Pepita and Torquil.
But surely it is a passion doomed.
Pepita is determined that she must never inflict Alistair's fate on Torquil – to be an outcast for no other reason than that he loved a 'Sassenach' from England!