In this gentle prequel to the Saint Maggie Series, it is 1852 and widow Maggie Blaine is finding scant joy in Christmas. Having lost her husband nearly three years earlier and her much-loved Aunt Letty that year, she struggles to maintain the boarding house and feed and care for those who live in it. Finally, she hires a woman named Emily Johnson to help her. Even though Maggie is white and Emily is black, the two women become friends. When Emily and her husband Nate suffer a disaster, the financially-challenged Maggie is determined to find a way to help them.