Whitby, 1879. Following the death of her parents in the Tay Bridge disaster, twenty-three-year-old Lena Carnforth expects to inherit at least half of her father's thriving shipping and merchant business. But, though leaving her comfortably off, her father leaves the entire business to his stepson, James. Instead of working, it's generally accepted that Lena will wed lifelong friend, Alistair, even though she has doubts about their relationship.
Then Lena meets the attractive shipping rival Peter Hustwick and sees him as the answer to all her prayers. She also now has the opportunity to help build up Peter's business - and undermine James's firm, which she regards as rightly hers. But when disaster strikes, Lena is devastated to realise just how carried away she's become with her desire for success...