When Pearl's sheltered life shatters in the 1930s when her mother dies, her only option is to move in with poor family relations and shuck oysters in the local plant on Oyster Island, Maryland.
Determined to live a morally proper life, the last thing she wants is an affair with a white man, but Caleb, the plant owner, knows a pearl when he sees one. The successful widower is the “oyster king” of the island, but his intense desire for his forbidden new employee, a woman of color, threatens everything he’s built.
What begins as a private sexual liaison flowers into strong feelings that don't fit the social mores of the island. When their secret is discovered, they risk losing everything. They dared to pluck the pearl, but will their love be strong enough to keep it forever?