Aine MacLean is forced into an arranged marriage with Sir William, Chief of Clan Munro, yet her heart belongs to a handsome young warrior in her father's guard. She must leave Durant Castle, the home of her birth on the Isle of Mull, and travel across Scotland in a perilous journey to her husband's home on Cromarty Firth. William agrees to a year and day of handfasting, giving Aine an opportunity to accept him and his clan. He promises her the protection of Clan Munro, however, Aine experiences kidnapping, pirates, and almost loses her life in the River Moriston. She doubts the sincerity of William's promises and decides to return to Durant Castle when the handfasting ends. William determines to win Aine's heart.
Although her father, Lachlan Og MacLean, 8th Chief of Clan MacLean, arranges her marriage with Sir William Munro, 12th Baron of F rdach and 15th overall Chief of Clan Munro, Aine's heart belongs to a young warrior in her father's slaugh--guard. Ellic Garvie fights for Aine's love, but the forces tying her to William too strong for the young couple to overcome. They cannot fight the forces of culture and heritage in 15th century Scotland.
Since Aine is so against their arranged marriage, William suggests a handfasting--trial marriage lasting one year and one day. Aine agrees and looks forward to the year's end when she can return her handsome warrior. The journey across Scotland from Durant Castle on the Isle of Mull off the west coast, to the north shore of Cromarty Firth on the eastern shore, is long and dangerous. The company of travelers meet several perilous adventures before arriving safely on Ferindonald, the Munro clan lands.
Aine finds William attentive and chivalrous during their journey to his home. He demonstrates a strong desire for their marriage to succeed in several ways, but Aine is still uncertain of his love for her. She believes he desires their marriage only for an heir and her dowry. Yet, her faith remains strong through the heartache of leaving her home, enduring a perilous journey, and making a new life with her husband.
William must convince Aine of his love, but she stays distant and cold toward his advances. He tells her in many ways of his wish for their marriage to succeed, but she is not convinced until he relates the story of her wedding ring and proclaims his love. William is relieved when their journey ends and they finally arrive on Ferindonald under the protection of Clan Munro. The trip to his clan lands from Durant Castle, Aine's home, is dangerous. He almost loses Aine to Ellic Garvie and pirates, so he vows to keep an ever watchful eye on his young wife. Aine's dowry plus an heir are important, but his love for her is the binding element in their relationship. William's faith is restored when Aine's heart softens and she unexpectedly comes to him in desire at first, then love for him and his home.