"Your mother was a naughty girl. She sinned."Aunt Maud's cruel words shock Rosie Quest. But they also explain the atmosphere of hostility that surrounds her on the run-down Wirral farm: no wonder her aunt resents having had to take in an illegitimate child, born in the workhouse. It's quite a relief to escape every day to her job as a machinist in Sheraing's garment factory, even though Beatrice Shearing is a demanding employer. But when Rosie catches the eye of Ben Shearing, Beatrice is having none of it: her son is much too good for a mere factory girl. When she fails to halt the romance by conventional methods, Beatrice resolves to try more drastic tactics, even if that means uncovering family secrets best left uncovered.