Rosalind (Roz) Porter is a scientist who was involved in the Manhattan Project. Now in Chicago in 1950, she is working in Marshall Field’s behind the jewelry counter. Her guilt over her role in developing the atomic bomb that killed tens of thousands of people, and the sudden inexplicable end to her love affair with Thomas Weaver, a fellow scientist, were her emotional undoing that led to the loss of her job at the lab.
Now she is avoiding Weaver’s recent attempts to reconnect with her, but Charlie Szydlo, an FBI agent, steps in and pushes her to accept Weaver back into her life. The FBI is looking for information that will tie Weaver to a Soviet spy ring and implicate him in passing classified secrets. Roz agrees to meet Weaver and, despite hurts of the past, they resume their steamy affair. But along with her task of drawing secrets from him, she wants answers – why did he suddenly drop her and marry someone else? Rosalind struggles with her loyalty to Weaver and her responsibility to Szydlo. Agent Szydlo is dealing with the scars from WWII, both physical and emotional, and Roz is there to help him heal.
The character of Roz is inconsistent. She wavers between a strong, independent woman as a female physicist and a typical woman of the 1950s, ready to bend and please her man while falling into his arms when she meets danger. This book is equal parts romance and spy novel. The romance overshadows the more important issue of Rosalind’s struggle with her role in the building of the atomic bomb and the gray areas of right or wrong in using it to end the war, but the spy narrative keeps the pages turning.