The Bissette family is on the verge of homelessness. Arthur Bissette’s factory is about to be shut down by the bank and seized, along with the family home in Chicago and summer cottage on Mackinac Island, Michigan. It is June 1894 and Arthur, along with his wife, Deborah, and their only child, Elena, will again spend the summer on Mackinac Island. But this summer Deborah is determined that financier Chester Darrington, the wealthiest and most desired bachelor, will become Elena’s fiancee, securing their family’s future. Deborah is aware that they have fallen on hard times, but her husband has not informed her of the extent of their precarious financial situation.
Elena is nineteen, beautiful, intelligent, and quite bored with the societal obligations placed upon her. She dreams of meeting the man meant for her and marrying for love, rather than financial security. But she is also a dutiful, devoted daughter who understands that it is up to her to assist her parents by marrying well.