At age twelve, Cassandra Madden fell in love with Jefferson Ames, a young man she met at one of her mother's business conferences. Over the years, during periods of loneliness and struggle, Cassie held on to this unrequited love in order to cope with her isolated heart and the pain of a cold mother. Even when Cassie grew up, went off to college, and met a man she thought she'd marry, her heart yearned for Jeff. In a decisive moment, she breaks off the pending engagement and travels to Williamsburg, Virginia, where the now-widowed Jeff lives with his young daughter. Cassie becomes the child's nanny, but, even though she sees the object of her desire every day, Jeff has yet to even notice her.
Then, one day, she hears shots coming from the mansion of Althea Fairmont, an eccentric woman who is thought of as the world's greatest living actress. Cassie runs to investigate, and, in an instant, her safe little life is turned upside down. She begins to learn that all the people around her aren't who they claim to be. Everyone has secrets -- and until Cassie unravels those secrets, she and Jeff will never have a chance to be happy together.