Merritt Heyward survived a painful seven-year marriage to Cal Heyward, and two years after his tragic death in a fire, she hasn't healed and hasn't forgiven herself. It's a complete surprise when she is notified that she has inherited Cal's family home in South Carolina, on the death of Cal's grandmother.
Cal had never told her much of his family history, which was fine with Merritt. She didn't want to discuss her own family history, and her estrangement from her father after his remarriage to a woman only five years older than Merritt. Inheriting the house, as much of a surprise as it is, seems like an opportunity for a fresh start, away from Maine and her old life. Almost immediately on arriving in Beaufort, though, she meets Cal's younger brother, Gibbes, the town's pediatrician. Not long after, there's another surprise. Her estranged father died recently, and his widow, Loralee, arrives on Merritt's new doorstep with her half-brother, ten-year-old Owen, whom she's never met.
Merritt's expectation of a quiet, isolated life where she'll never have to confront the painful secrets of her past is in serious danger. What she doesn't yet suspect are the Heyward family secrets--secrets that connect with her mother's family in very unexpected ways.
Both Merritt's grandmother and Cal and Gibbes's grandmother prove to have been strong women willing in the end to do anything to protect their families. The pain in Merritt's marriage is an echo of the pain in the grandmother's marriages.
And Loralee, who says she came to Beaufort with Owen because she's out of money because of mistakes made after her husband's death, turns out to have her own secret--as well as an unexpected depth of character.
This is a moving and fascinating story.