Although this novel is set in the mountains of western North Carolina, plantation slavery is presented is part of the local heritage and figures in the plot. The shoe is on the other foot when John Marshall returns to his hometown near Asheville in the 1870s. Northerners have come to this part of the South and they are making their presence felt through land purchases and business deals. His family home has been sold and is now a boarding house run by the optimistic and energetic Portia Van Ostade. Old racial and social attitudes are still alive, but the younger characters find romance across the sectional divide. The happiness of one young couple is threatened by a secret from the past.
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