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It is 1905 and Luis Bernardo Valenca, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping company, is revelling in Lisbon's luxurious high society. But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos invites him to become governor of Portugal's smallest colony, the island of Sao Tome e Principe. Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life - used to a softer urban existence, he is shocked by the conditions under which the workers labour. But with the English closing in on Sao Tome's cocoa plantations, the island's main means of survival, Luis Bernardo must endeavour to protect the island and its community.