Jessie Burton is lively and intelligent – she wants more than the respectable life in service her mother has planned for her. Times are changing, railways are being built across the land bringing new freedom and possibilities. Jessie tastes that freedom when she meets an ambitious young navvy, newly arrived in Yorkshire. The attraction between them is overwhelming. And Jared Wilde is determined to make Jessie his wife. The primitive, colourful shanty towns that spring up around the railway works are nothing like the safe world Jessie once knew. But in spite of the hardness of life there, she finds happiness with Jared. Until another navvy becomes determined to destroy their future together.