In 1890, a woman still unmarried at twenty-one is an old maid: "on the cull list" in the language of the Ozark Mountains. For Meely Simmans, however, helping the sick is far more important than becoming a hill-man's wife. While dealing with an often-ill mother and a restrictive yet distant father, Meely finds her passion in exploring the medicinal lore of the hills, taught to her by the local herbalist, Granny McRoy. But she wants more. She wants the gift of blood-stopping, an ancient, life-saving practice passed through the generations. Armed with this gift, she begins to find respect and fear among the hill-folk, but when her world is shaken by an unexpected encounter with a young doctor from Eureka Springs, science, tradition, and love begin a battle for her mind and heart.