This is the story of Rebecca Stirling's childhood: a young girl raised by the sea, by men, and by literature. Circumnavigating the world on a thirty-foot sailboat, the Stirlings spend weeks at a time on the open ocean, surviving storms and visiting uncharted islands and villages. Ushered through her young life by a father who loves adventure, women, and extremes, Rebecca befriends "working girls" in the ports they visit (as they are often the only other females present in the bars that they end up in) and, on the boat, falls in love with her crewmate and learns to live like the men around her. But her driven nature and the role models in the books she reads make her determined to be a lady, continue her education, begin a career, live in a real home, and begin a family of her own. Once she finally gets away from the boat and her dad and sets to work upon making her own dream a reality, however, Rebecca begins to realize life is not what she thought it would be--and when her father dies in a tragic accident, she must return to her old life to sift through the mess and magic he has left behind.