Connie Bell, newly orphaned, is just twelve when she's taken on at the laundry in Sunderland's grim workhouse. Although she's little more than a child the events of her past have forged a driving determination to rise above her beginnings.
But when she applies for a job as a nurse Connie is turned down: her mother was forced by poverty to work the streets and the Bell name is tainted. Bitterly hurt but undaunted, Connie is soon assistant housekeeper at the Grand Hotel and saving hard for her own business.
When her path crosses Dan Stewart's, though, everything Connie's ever dreamed of is threatened. There's a dark and terrible history between the Bells and the Stewarts, and Dan's mother Edith will do anything to keep Dan and Connie apart.