It's 1796 and nineteen-year-old Walter Scott is in love. For the past few years, he has been engaged in a long-distance courtship, writing love letters to his childhood sweetheart, Mina.
Though both Walter and Mina are young and from different stations in society, they share the same love of literature, a passionate temperament, and a restless heart. They know their love is meant to be. Walter feels sure Mina is the muse he needs to bring every dream of his life to fruition. But the distance between the two lovers proves too great, and when Mina meets the handsome and charming William Forbes, she is swept away, and the two quickly announce their engagement.
Brokenhearted, Walter takes refuge in the lake country of England where he resigns himself to life of misery and heartache. But then he meets Charlotte, a French girl, who, at twenty-six, has resigned herself to the fact that she will never find love. Despite their age difference, the two become cautious friends, but Charlotte's quiet disposition and keen mind intrigue Walter. She is so different from Mina, yet perhaps, for Walter, it may be that his perfect match is a woman who calms him and helps him keep his feet on the ground. Though wary of risking his heart a second time, he finds himself falling deeply in love with her.
In the end, he is able to forgive Mina, forget his heartbreak, and forge ahead in a new relationship, realizing that there is a vast difference between a man's "first love" and his "true love."