Chester, 1756: The hospital stench. The blood. The lecherous surgeon. Mary Helsall does not want to be a nurse.
It is a job that will have to suffice for now – at least until she has accomplished the task she came to the city to do. In the meantime, rotgut gin and a volatile relationship with hospital porter Anthony will help her get through each day.
But who is the mysterious patient who claims to know what she's hiding? He knows all about her infatuation with a thief-taker, about her connection to the notorious Northgate Gaol, and about the shocking events of her recent past.
From the stormy seashore to the screams of the operating theatre, and from a backstreet gin shop to the fetid dungeons of the prison, Mary searches for an independent future. Before she can find it, she must fight the attraction of oblivion and decide whether addiction is a fair price to pay for love.