Melinda Hollister's sister and Nick Bryson's brother tragically die in a train wreck, leaving behind three-year-old daughter Nell. Much to Melinda's surprise, she and Nick become co-guardians of the child. The three of them spend July and August at Summerhill, a seaside mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, where they try to get better acquainted and work out a solution to their dilemma with the help of missionary friends.
Though neither loves the other, Melinda and Nick marry to provide a stable home for Nell. But when Nell is kidnapped, they put aside their differences to search for her. Their emerging feelings for each other soon strengthen as they focus their attention on the rescued child they mutually adore.