When Joy Dawson ends up homeless with her mother and aunt depending on her, she has no choice but to accept her friend Alicia's offer to stay in her guesthouse in McCray County. To her surprise, she discovers that Mark Stevens, the artist she met the year before, is living next door. Although she enjoyed flirting with Mark last year, she’s indignant that he seems to pity her now. Unfortunately, she can’t ignore him when he has set up his easel right outside her back door.
Mark Stevens hasn’t been able to forget Joy Dawson, the outrageously colorful and original woman he met last summer. Unfortunately, now that she’s reappeared in his life, she’s changed from colorful to drab and from flirtatious to surly. What’s a fellow to do when a girl he can’t ignore seems determined to pretend he doesn’t exist?