This is the story of Lissa; a very insecure woman growing up in the shadow of her sister, Amanda, who is the cherished one by her parents. When Lissa sneaks out to attend a party, she is finally kissed by the boy she has had a crush one, though nothing else happened. Confronted by her father, who witnessed the kiss, she is humiliated to find that the man who is soon to be her brother in law has witnessed the confrontation. As punishment for her indiscretion, she is sent away to boarding school. Now an adult, Lissa is unable to respond to any man; kissing makes her ill, and seeing what she believes is Joel's contempt for her only makes it worse. After the death of her sister and brother in law in a plane crash, custody of the children is left to Lissa and Joel. Joel has loved Lissa for most of his life, and suggests they marry for the kids' sake; though secretly he hopes to help Lissa lose her fear of intimacy.