Grace grew up in a state of awe and fear of her father, but at 18 she is not so willing to follow his commands anymore. When she falls in love with a young college professor, her father disapproves. But rather than obey his order to break off the relationship, she decides to marry the man instead. As much as she hopes this is a good decision to spite her father, she slowly begins to realize that getting married is just transferring one prison for another. If she is going to find out what makes her special, she needs to start thinking - and desiring - for herself.
In this fairly catchy story, Grace's search for self has a realistic tone. Still, while it may be a comfort to the reader to always be a few steps ahead of the heroine, it's hard not to notice how terribly naive she is. This is hardly a feel-good novel, but it is affirming and portrays both decency and flaws.
I haven't yet mentioned the religious thread at all (Grace's family is Fundamentalist Christian). It's far from subtle (there's a great deal of Scripture-quoting in the book), but it also makes sense and fits in the story quite seamlessly. The family's faith is drawn with very little sensationalism - its just another factor of who they are. Given how easy it would have been to demonize the family's religious beliefs, MacLean has definitely taken the high road.