Despite an early life marked by tragedy and hardship, Beth Sherwin dreams of staying on at school and even going to university - a heady ambition for a Potteries girl in 1956. Then a brutal encounter leaves her pregnant at seventeen. Unwilling to break her widowed mother's heart, Beth bears her secret alone and gives up her baby daughter for adoption. It seems her desperate gamble has succeeded. She finishes school, takes on a challenging job and meets Michael, charming eldest son of the wealthy Rushton family. She has to fight both class prejudice and the jealousy of her old enemy Ursula to win him - but when he asks her to marry him, Beth faces a dilemma. Does she dare tell Michael her guilty secret and risk losing him? And even if he stands by her, can she bear the certainty that the brutal stranger who fathered her child will be at her wedding?