With her husband Devereaux Rousseau now a captain commanding Savannah's elite Oglethorpe Light Infantry on the Civil War battlefields of Virginia, Carolyn Calhoun Rousseau must prove her own backbone as she operates the family's last functioning farm in the hills of Habersham County. She draws on the support of her best friend, Mahala Franklin, half-Cherokee granddaughter of a local inn owner. Mahala battles her own frustrations with Jack Randall, rival hotel owner and coastal shipping magnate. Jack's continued reluctance to commit threatens to drive Mahala into the arms of her Cherokee childhood sweet-heart, Clay Fraser. Then, tragedy brings Mahala and Carolyn to Savannah just as Sherman advances on the city -- and forces everyone to confront their true feelings. Will Jack abandon his ship and its profits to the Yankees in Wilmington Harbor in order to guide them on a perilous wagon journey across Georgia, or will he abandon the woman he claims to love, but whom he now knows also has feelings for another? And even if Mahala reaches safety, could her discovery about her father's long-ago murder and missing gold prove far more dangerous than the war?