1891 – North Carolina
Elise Holbrook is a pawn in a hopeless game of chess.
Elise’s father formed an alliance with influential, but unscrupulous, George Penwell, the terms of which include Elise’s hand to fortify Penwell’s connections in New York society. But Elise can’t abide being in the same room with George Penwell and will do anything to keep from being forced into the marriage. In a desperate ploy, she blurts out a lie that she is in love with a longtime friend, and they plan to be married the following week. A few days later, her friend is found murdered, and Elise discovers Penwell is his killer.
Fearing she might never be safe from Penwell, Elise seeks refuge by escaping to the remote mountain town of Hot Springs, North Carolina. Suffering from debilitating headaches brought on by strangulating guilt and remorse over her lie, she hopes the change in scenery and restful environment will help relieve her headaches. Instead, the pain escalates, and requires more and more laudanum.
Jonathan Aldridge, fresh out of seminary and stepping into his first pastorate in Hot Springs, is plagued by doubts over his calling to the ministry. Despite his own misgivings regarding the legitimacy of his calling, Jonathan must set aside his fears when he meets Elise Holbrook. Her headaches are gut-wrenching to see, and he wishes he could help her. Complications twist Jonathan’s hope with the arrival of Cyrus Drummond, a self-proclaimed faith healer and evangelist. Elise attends Drummond’s revival meetings and is conned into believing Drummond can heal her.
How can Jonathan expose Drummond for the fraud that he is before the man swindles Elise out of thousands of dollars? And how can Elise accept God’s forgiveness when she can’t forgive herself?