Josh Retallick and his wife Miriam take on an exciting new challenge as owners of Ruddlemoor china clay works on the outskirts of St Austell. But a family tragedy forces Josh to leave almost immediately. When he returns he knows that his youngest grandson will one day follow him.
So it is that several years later Ben Retallick journeys to Cornwall. His arrival rocks the local community - labourers are wary of this strapping young lad; rival clay owners see him as an unwelcome threat; and Ben's charm sets many a girl's heart aflutter. Deirdre Tresillian, a member of the landed gentry, takes advantage of Ben's naivety; Jo, a poverty-stricken young widow, brings out his protective instincts; Tess considers any man fair game; but it is Lily, Ben's distant cousin, who loves him the most. But what would the future owner of Ruddlemoor see in a humble maid like Lily?
As Ruddlemoor enters troubled times, Ben proves that in business no challenge is too great; and in love only one girl can win his heart.