It has always been a burden for quiet, level-headed Tess Lanier to be the daughter of Nina Lane -- the gifted and tormented author who died soon after Tess's birth. Determined to be nothing like her exuberant mother, Tess, a collector of antique lace, lives in California, safe and anonymous, far from theKansas town her family once called home, where Nina penned her extraordinary stories.But when her dying grandfather asks her to go back, she cannot refuse. And on the banks of the Missouri River, she meets Ned Ravenal, a vibrant man who is living his dream, excavating a paddlewheel steamboat that sank one hundred and fifty years ago. Tess had family on that boat, and Ned uncovers their secrets that, in turn, unlock the mysteries of Nina's life. No longer afraid of the past, Tess discovers in herself spirit, passion, and richness as intricate as her lace.