1835. Born to a strict, impoverished clergyman, Helen Merling still manages to grow up with a loving heart and happy nature. She refuses to marry the curate because she's dazzled by a travelling actor. Seduced and pregnant, she's forced to marry him and immediately disowned by her family. After several unhappy years, he dies while they're in Italy and she's left to earn a living for herself and her son. Later, Charles Carnforth arrives in town, a charming, much older man, and she marries him out of friendship. After he dies, she and her son return to England to live in the Carnforths' dower house. His heir is a cousin near her own age, and now is Helen's season for true romantic love. However, the fact that she's pregnant to Charles rather complicates things with Daniel. Can they overcome gossip and prejudice to find happiness? Or will Daniel's mother spoil their growing love? And will the baby be a boy who disinherits Daniel?