Sophie Sullivan chances to rescue Miss Euphemia Cochrane one afternoon in the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, Scotland. Miss Cochrane, a wealthy spinster, whom Sophie recognizes as living in the same small town as she, had forgotten her purse, causing a commotion in the tearooms and extreme embarrassment to Miss Cochrane.
Sophie Generously pays for both their lunches, and the women strike up an immediate friendship.
When Mr. Benedict Cochrane, Euphemia’s older brother, and a prestigious barrister in the Glasgow High Courts, hears of his sister’s new friendship, he is outraged and goes to Sophie’s family’s Haberdashery to return Sophie’s money. However, as soon as he sees the beautiful and impertinent Miss Sullivan, he abruptly changes his mind.
The good barrister is instantly smitten by his sister’s new friend; however, it is Scotland in 1910, and he believes Sophie Sullivan, a shopkeeper’s daughter, is beneath him and not in his social class. He fights against his feelings, continually breaking promises and belittling her. However, Sophie is soon bound to join her aunt and uncle Carlisle in New York, in pursuit of a wealthy husband. She is well prepared for her new life in America, having spent her spare time and wages on elocution lessons and books on manners and self-improvement.
Sophie is also immediately smitten with the good barrister; however, she mistrusts his motives and finds him unreliable and an utter snob. Her affection for him will not alter her plans for a new life in the new world, even though he is determined for her to give up her ticket.
There ensues a tangle of emotions, with Euphemia Cochrane and Sophie’s brother, Jack Sullivan, often caught in the middle of the drama created by this couple who may be in love but would much prefer not to be so.