Twenty-two years have passed since Emma Franklin walked through an iron gate to enter 1827 and to leave 2004 and her “modern-day” life behind forever. In that time, has married Gavin MacKinley, had six children, and never regretted crossing into a new century.
Now her tomboyish eighteen-year old daughter, Charlotte, has become transfixed by the magical gate. Charlotte is at a crossroads in her life. She’s known as “Doc Charlie” to everyone in MacKinley, North Carolina, and becoming a physician has always been her dream. Unfortunately, the Boston medical school where she hoped to go rejects her. Charlie’s parents tell her that she is to marry James MacGregor, the Scottish nephew of Gavin’s best friend, who they have never met. And the MacKinleys’ land is threatened by their aggressive neighbors, the Freemans. Sadly, the Freemans’ extreme measures result in the deaths of two of Charlie’s closest confidants.
Charlie feels the need to escape the pressure and heartache of the last few days. She decides to pass through the gate during the full moon intending to learn medicinal practices of early Cherokees. After spending a few days in 1819 learning about Indian herbal remedies (and warning her new friends of the Trail of Tears), Charlie returns home just as typhoid fever breaks out in MacKinley. She must put her new skills to the test, which means tending to the hated Freemans. When the fear and illness pass, Charlie has a chance to meet MacKinley’s new pastor – Jamie MacGregor! They quickly become devoted to each other, and Charlie is able to enjoy her two loves: medicine and Jamie.