Sarah Markham lives a satisfying though routine life near Melbourne, an Australian penal colony in 1838. Her father raises sheep, hires convicts to work his ranch, and has hopes that Sarah will marry Percival, his ranch manager. However, Sarah feels nothing but disgust for Percival despite the family consensus that her plain looks leave him as her only option. Sarah would rather be alone than settle until she rescues a convict, Dominic Gallagher, from a near-fatal whipping and finds herself uncharacteristically attracted to him to the point of an episode of complete submission.
Violence dominates the action, with a constant suppressed rage and abusive language masking the growing love between Sarah and Dominic. Both have their moments of shame and degradation, but out of their misery based upon the impropriety of a relationship between Sarah and a convict, they find compatibility and passion once they determine that society should not determine their fate.
This reissue of a classic 1980s-style romance is not particularly heartwarming. However, it does have the requisite happily-ever-after ending and intimate moments that some readers may find titillating.