As a college freshman, Agnes Quinn begins writing her novel Trevorode the Defender. Despite warnings from her family, she majors in creative writing in college. When her best friend and her mentor disappoint her, Agnes, disillusioned, abandons work on her novel for a more practical degree in English Education.
On her first day as a teacher at Brighton Park Community College, her sensible plans are disrupted when she encounters the mysterious Jonas Grinstead. A private investigator, seeking Jonas, assumes Agnes is Jonas’ friend and questions her. Agnes becomes determined to piece together Jonas’ fascinating past.
Her dream to write becomes entangled with Jonas’ plan to rescue the Magnolia Arms, the house he built and left behind decades earlier. Jonas and Agnes work out an improbable scheme to accomplish their aspirations, but when Olympia Pillburn, seeking revenge, threatens to ruin their plans, Agnes must choose which dream she will save.