Following being fired from her Chicago advertising job having been thrown under the proverbial bus by her colleague and boyfriend Richard De Vries, Caretta Rudland heads home to an island outside of Charleston in the South Carolina low country to stay at the slowly crumbling beach house where her widowed mother, Lovie Rudland, lives. Cara does not divulge the reason for her visit to her mother. Cara long ago ran away from her family and the low country life not being able to tolerate her now deceased father's selfish actions in the constant pursuit of wealth and wanting to preserve the appearance of prosperity at all cost. Cara blames the situation as much if not more so on Lovie for being the typical southern belle in not standing up to him, in the process not providing her with a capable female role model. While the beach house is Lovie's having been handed down to her through her family, the Rudland family home in Charleston is where Cara's brother Palmer and his family lives, Palmer who has grown up to be just like his father in the never ending pursuit of money. Palmer now manages Lovie's finances, she having no idea about that aspect of her life. It isn't until Cara arrives at the beach house that she discovers that Lovie has taken in a young single pregnant woman named Toy Sooner, with the unborn baby's father no longer in the picture. Cara is standoffish to Toy in being suspect of her in not being family. Cara also quickly discovers that she still feels disconnected from everything having to do with the low country, including her mother's fascination with saving the turtles by finding and marking turtle nests on the beach so that they are not inadvertently damaged by beach goers or predators, and ensuring the hatched babies from those marked nests make it back to the ocean safely. The one thing Cara admits is her attraction to her old boyfriend Brett Beauchamps, a charter boat operator. It was not him but the low country life which he represented which led to their break-up. As Cara's stay in South Carolina gets extended for one reason or another, as she spends more and more time especially with Lovie, Toy, Palmer and Brett, and as she discovers some secrets her mother has been keeping - one recent and another dating back to before Cara and Palmer's father entered Lovie's life - Cara may come to some realizations about her own life, including that she has never been running to something, those somethings which may be closer than she initially realized.