Francesca Pembroke is a woman of ripe age, left a widow when her husband is killed in the Battle of Gettysburg. Arthur Robards, an aristocratic young man, is sent to the Civil War to fight for the his country, the Union. But, seeing the war's cost in human life, he flees to a distant mountain, where he is found by Francesca, who takes him into her home and tends his wounds. Love and passion are inevitable between these two, a forbidden love springs up…to become Francesca's most cherished secret. Years later, Francesca's daughter Madeleine Robards discovers a diary in her mother's old nightstand, together with a bunch of yellowed letters, which shed light on her own past, as well as her parents'.