Julianne Chevalier is a gifted young midwife in 18th century France. When a patient dies suddenly, Julianne is considered a murderer, and sentenced to life in prison. Longing to escape her life in prison, she agrees to be exiled to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. In order to make the journey, however, Julianne must be married. Male and female convicts are paired together in marriage, so Julianne becomes the wife of the fiery and reckless, yet compassionate Simon LeGrange.
Once she is in the colony, Julianne is determined to try to make a new life for herself, but fears that there is no redemption for her past. She also hopes to be reunited with her brother Benjamin, whom she lost touch with after he became a soldier in Louisiana.