After three long months at sea, Helga Heinrich and her four children sail into the thriving Indianola seaport on the Texas coast in 1853 to begin their new life. They are determined to overcome the memory and haunting legacy of Max, her husband and their papa, who drowned in a drunken leap from the dock as their ship pulled away from the German port. Helga is anxious to be reunited with her sister Amelia, and she’s grateful her wealthy brother-in-law, Dr. Joseph Stein, fulfills his part of the bargain that brought the family to the new world, even without Max to run Stein Mercantile. Helga takes charge of Stein’s massive boarding house overlooking the road to Texas’ interior and the fickle waves of Matagorda Bay. A woman of strong passions, Helga operates Stein House for boarders of all stripes whose involvement in the rigors of a town on the edge of frontier influences and molds all their lives—the cruelties of yellow fever and slavery, the wrenching choices of Civil War and Reconstruction, murder, alcoholism, and the devastation wrought by the hurricane of 1886.