Nineteen-year-old Helen Thatcher grew up under the protection of her older siblings, Grace and Christopher. Living in their shadows and keeping to herself suited Helen just fine—until she met widower Samuel Preston. Watching Mr. Preston care for his young daughter and seeing his concern extend to her own family, Helen felt her reserve slipping away, as she learned first to trust him and then realized she had fallen in love with him. But instead of returning—or even noticing her affection—Mr. Preston developed his own tender, and unrequited feelings, for Grace.
In the midst of each silently nursing their broken hearts, Helen and Samuel are faced with a daunting task—reuniting Grace with her fiancé, Nicholas Sutherland. Now it is Helen who must look out for her sister and sacrifice her own fragile heart, as she and Samuel pretend to be engaged. Helen finds the role surprisingly easy to play, allowing herself to imagine that Samuel’s loving remarks are sincere. As the time for their charade to end draws near Helen must summon her courage and tell Samuel the truth of her feelings, or risk losing him forever.