When Emma D'Eresby - a 29 year-old, self-contained Professor of History - leaves her Cambridge college for a post in an exclusive university in Maine, USA, she hopes to learn more about a curious 17th-century journal in the College library. Instead, it leads her to a secret that should never have been uncovered. In the States, Emma meets the enigmatic 33-year-old surgeon, Matthew Lynes, a quiet and thoughtful widower. Driven to learn more about him, Emma takes the unique journal from the College library in which she believes there are clues to his family's English past. Meanwhile, the sinister Professor Kort Staahl mounts a psychotic attack on her. Matthew's courageous intervention saves her, but as he nurses her back to health, his unusual attributes raise questions he is unwilling to answer. As Part One ends, she returns to her claustrophobic family, avoiding her domineering father and wrestling with despair.