Cassandra Blake has raised her three motherless sisters. The girls are the pride of their book-loving, impractical father, and not in a hurry to marry.
Then the American Civil War cuts off supplies of cotton to Lancashire, the mills fall silent and there is no work. There is a stark choice: stay and risk starvation or pack up and begin again elsewhere.
Cassandra has fallen in love with Reece Gregory, but he can't support a wife. When he's given the chance to start a new life in Western Australia, he seizes the opportunity, promising to send for her.
Then an old feud tears the family apart. Cassandra is kidnapped and her sisters are forced to sail with a group of desperate cotton lasses to Fremantle.
Penniless and alone, Cassandra is determined to find them again - but when she is offered a way, there is a painful price to pay.