Forced to leave boarding school by lack of funds amid the continuing civil conflict, Rosamund has returned to her family's large farm in Tennessee. Although her family has never owned slaves and her parents never favored secession, her family is divided. One of her brothers fights for the North, while her younger brother supports the Southern cause. But now her father is an invalid, the farm is impoverished by Yankee conscription and Southern thieving deserters, and she and her mother try to keep the farm going, hide their valuable horses, and support the last of the family to remain at home.
Plus, Rosamund can't help feeling lonely. The last of her friends to fall in love, she is courted by a Union officer who is steady and responsible, qualities she thinks she wants amid the present turmoil, but she's not sure she loves him. Then she meets a jaunty, ragged Southern soldier who infuriates her, rescues her, and in time needs her help, too, and at last she can feel what real passion is