Matthew Cameron's death ends the Camerons' lease of Nethertannoch. But Sandy Logan is determined to secure the tenancy so that he can keep his promise to the dying Matthew - that he will love and protect his daughter, Mattie. But the laird has other plans and they are forced to flee. They find refuge in the rundown farm of Fairlyden, which is owned by Daniel Munro. Daniel does not welcome strangers, but something about the pair of fugitive touches his heart. Slowly they bring the farm to prosperity.
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As Mistress of Fairlyden, and happily married to William Fairly, Sarah feels her life complete. But, longing to share the news of her pregnancy with her friend, Beatrice Slater, Sarah goes alone to Muircumwell Mill, where she is attacked by the vengeful Edward Slater. The consequences of the day haunt Sarah, and force her to become the keeper of a disturbing secret. Months later, Alex is born a cripple, whose deformity Sarah blames upon herself. William cannot bear the fact that his son will never be perfect.
In 1906, Beth Jamieson is a little girl of eight, with honey gold curls and the sweetest nature. Her father is Mistress Fairly's right-hand man and when Nick's wife dies, Sarah Fairly treats Beth as her own.
In 1930s Scotland, families are starving and thousands of farms lie derelict. But Fairlyden has survived thanks to Logan Fairly's skill as a cattle breeder and his wife's thriftiness. At 17, their daughter Kirsty is fiercely proud of her father, but her brother Luke has no interest in farming - and his fear of animals results in tragedy. Responsibility for Fairlyden is thrust on Kirsty just as the Second World War breaks out. But even in the face of all adversity, Kirsty retains her determination to keep the farm that has been the pride of the Fairlys for generations.