Set in 1845 (prologue) and 1850, this is the story of Elizabeth ("Bess") Metcalf, orphaned and raised by her uncle who is a merchant shipping magnate. As a young woman she fell in love with and gave herself to a young sailor, Seth Garret, who she believed abandoned her after their passionate love affair.
Five years later when her uncle dies and leaves her the business, she decides to have her revenge on the man who wronged her, now Captain Seth Garret. In pursuit of him, she stows aboard his ship, a ship that is now one of her company's assets, a Clipper ship on its way to California from the East Coast of America. She intends to show him what it means to be betrayed.