Jillian Slater’s summer starts off normal, until she receives a phone call from a mysterious stranger bearing news of her absent father’s death. She hadn’t seen or heard from her father in twenty years, so it comes as a shock to her mother when she flies to New Orleans for his funeral. She comes home after the funeral, only to find that her boyfriend has been cheating on her with her friend since she left.
In a panic, she steals one-thousand dollars from a drawer in his office. She leaves San Francisco and flies back to New Orleans to get away from her boyfriend, Vince. Jillian stays with the grandmother she has not seen since she was three, and a houseful of the oddest boarders she had ever met. David is a choir teacher, Caryn is a medical student, Mrs. Winsee is the eighty-year-old opera star, and Adella Atwater (who does not live at the house) is the housekeeper for St. Sans. Things fall apart when the police come to the boarding house to share some bad news.
Jillian’s father, who was assumed to have starved to death on the streets, was murdered. Needing a friend, Jillian sought the comfort of a strange woman named Stella. When Stella disappears, she becomes immersed in the residents of her grandmother’s boarding house.
The officer who told her of her father’s murder invites her to his birthday party. She goes, but while trying to avoid him, she finds herself wrapped in the arms of his superior officer. Sergeant DaCosta wins her heart, but loses her. Soon after Jillian’s disappearance, a man named Crawley is arrested for acts of violence that are unconnected to the blood on his shirt. The blood is Jillian’s. Crawley has a mental breakdown, and the only thing he will say is,¨I didn’t wanna kill that girl!¨ The search is on, Jillian’s stone-faced grandmother insists that Jillian is the top priority of the Police force. When she is found in an abandoned storage unit, she is in critical condition. She whispers one broken sentence to Cal, “She k-killed my father.
..” As the ambulance carries her away, Cal DaCosta wonders if he will ever again see the girl who stole his heart. A few weeks later, she is released from the hospitable with a warning to take it easy. She is looking forward to her reunion with all of her friends, but some shocking news changes her plans drastically.
Officer Billy Bob La Bauve, Bully to his friends, was hit by a car. The car was Stella’s, and Bully is in critical condition. She cries with Bully’s family, then she prays with Bully’s partner on the police force.
In all of the chaos, Jillian and Cal grow apart. When life is finally normal for Jillian, she decides to visit her father’s grave. When she arrives at the cemetery, the gardener who works there gives her a bunch of letters.
The letters are from Cal. She reads them, and cries. She discovers how much he still cares for her, and she realizes how much she still cares for him. She goes to his office, hoping he won’t turn her away. When he sees her standing there, he walks up to her, takes her soft face in his rough hands, and kisses her. She makes a new life in New Orleans, and still stays in contact with her mother.
She grows much closer to Cal than she ever had to Vince. She is not in “loooove”, she is in LOVE.