'Her upstairs d'aint want nobody becomin' privy to what that husband of her'n be up to! Her knowed the ways of Fenton Gilmore . . . may the devil tek him! Her knows his temper, felt his fist many a time. And there be others as knows, women he's paid to keep silent about the blows they've suffered, for it tek more'n a roll in bed to satisfy Fenton Gilmore.'
Emma Lawrence has reason to fear the base cruelty of the man she must call uncle. She and her sister Rachel had been taken into the Gilmore household on the death of their parents and have known nothing but unkindness at the hands of Fenton and his wife. And now Rachel is dead, brutally raped and strangled, and Emma must dry her tears and flee if she is to escape the same fate. Emma falls in with two other orphans, and Timothy and Lily become as dear to her as her own departed sister. But Fenton Gilmore does not give up so easily. His evil ambition is to own a brothel and Emma is vital to his perverted plan ... Meg Hutchinson is back in vintage form with this absorbing tale of a vulnerable young woman who overcomes hardship and tragedy to reap the rewards of a virtuous life.