Ben Rydell left River’s End in the wake of the fire that destroyed much of his family’s ranch, along with the valley that surrounded it. After it changed the lives of all the citizens of his small hometown, he takes off without a word of warning to his family. Running east, Ben crosses several states, trying to escape the loss he refuses to accept, and his consequent actions only compound the tragedy. He has betrayed the love of his life and believes he can never be forgiven or excused. His life is virtually over. He has nothing left and doesn’t care if he survives. Then one day, his father finally locates him after a long search. His arrival precedes Ben’s discovery of a secret, perhaps the only thing that can draw him back to the devastation he left behind.

Jocelyn Jantz knew as early as her late teens that her crush on her friend, Ben Rydell, could not end well for her. He only saw her as his annoying neighbor, and a tomboy whom he often fought with. When Ben marries Jocelyn’s nemesis, Marcy, Jocelyn’s years of loving Ben from afar turn to anger and hurt as she watches them setting up a life together. She understands and sees what Ben doesn’t and can’t; it’s all an illusion.

Then, the greatest fire in the state’s history incinerates them, ripping the family apart and detonating a passion as explosive as the fire itself. In the ensuing aftermath, Jocelyn realizes that Ben will despise her to the end of her days. She snatched the honor he always took the most pride in, and when he leaves town, she knows he is lost forever to her. The secret she holds threatens to destroy not only Jocelyn, but also the man Ben Rydell once was.