Grieving over her sister's death, Charlotte Morgan leaves the Carolina coast for the shores of Lake Erie, Ohio, to help care for her niece and nephew. John Deaton is also there to assist his brother after this devastating loss. Soon, John and Charlotte are locked in a battle of wills as the War of 1812 rages around them.
While John criticizes Charlotte for her interest in politics, lectures, and lack of domestic skills, she faults him for his insensitivity, rigid schedules, and harsh discipline. The two just can't seem to get along. But could all their bickering be a sign of something more-an attraction between the two? Afraid of loving a man duty-bound to war, she ignores the growing affection between them.