When Lucille Avery runs away from the small Californian homestead she has lived in for all her life, she has no idea of the adventures ahead of her. It is 1937 and the Great Depression is keeping a tight grip on the hopes and dreams of most ordinary people but it is those hopes and dreams that keep them fighting on. Lucille finds work in a travelling carnival as assistant to Earl Mirada, aka magician The Grand Mysterio. She soon discovers that a tight corset and silk stockings are a sure fire distraction when Earl's conjuring skills let him down and she takes pleasure in the audience's attentions. But who else is watching her? The carnival is home to many colourful characters and Lucille is befriended by Alfie, a tattooes strongman, and Carmella, the living mermaid. A case of mistaken identity leads Lucille into the arms, and bed, of Edward Carlton, a showman with eyes the colour of cornflowers. When Lucille is accused of a crime she did not commit she goes on the run with Alfie and Carmella. Their journey takes them from the sunshine and sawdust of the Californian carnival to the shadowy underworld of chicago and on to the glitter, energy and passion of New York and its burgeoning burlesque scene. As she learns the art of the tease as a burlesque dancer, Lucille is unaware that not everyone who is looking at her has the best of intentions.