Miss Hannah Winstead, 17, has been raised from the age of three by her guardians, the Godders. When the Godders try to force her into an arranged marriage with Lord Earling, Hannah runs away. Captain Aaron Clarke finds her freezing in a barn in London and not wanting to leave her to a cruel fate, takes her on board his ship bound for America. A gentleman by birth and inclination, he takes Hannah into his home and employs her as governess to his wards.
One of Hannah’s new acquaintances is a sultry beauty, Maria Compton. Aaron falls under her spell, and when Hannah tries to warn him that Maria is not what she seems, he becomes angry and they quarrel.
While Hannah is trying to cope with her romantic difficulties, she is haunted by the mystery of her past. Where was she born? What happened to her parents? Why did her own governess warn her of danger? Who wrote the mysterious letter she found in her guardians’ library? Why did the Godders attempt to force her into marriage? These are questions that seem unanswerable, but unknown to Hannah, the past will pursue her. She possesses knowledge that is dangerous to others, and there are people in her life that will stop at nothing to defeat her.