The second in a three-part series about the wealthy O’Donovan family, this novel takes place in 1880s Ireland and centers on 15-year-old Grace and her elder sister, Deirdre. The girls were always close in the past, but now Grace senses an inexplicable distance between them since her sister’s return from a year away at finishing school in Switzerland. Their father and mother seem somewhat ill at ease as well. She tries in vain to understand the new tensions within her family, unaware of the magnitude of the secrets being concealed.
Deirdre stubbornly resists their parents’ efforts to have her marry into one of the prominent local families. They quite reluctantly assent to allow her to marry the person she loves, who is beneath their social class. However, the plan goes awry before a wedding can occur.
Grace is perplexed and worried when Deirdre then suddenly becomes resigned to marrying the son of a family from a nearby estate despite being fully aware of his vicious nature. Unfortunately, Grace’s concerns go unheeded as she tries to avert this disaster. Trapped by a social imperative to avoid scandal and preserve their good name the O’Donovan family suffers immense heartache and tragedy, yet the bittersweet ending offers a glimmer of hope for their future.
Set against a climate of unrest and struggle for home rule in Ireland, romance and suspense merge in this emotionally charged story. Though the plot unfolds gradually at first, it accelerates in the second half of the book and grips the reader with several shocking turns that have life-and-death consequences. The characters and descriptions of the countryside’s beauty and charm leave a lasting impression.