Sleek improvisation romances a little known general of the American Revolution, New England Mary Carmichael who is researching his story, South Carolinian Ridgeway Creston -- and a live,dream- boat general, Alec Mason. Mary's first break with her mother and spinster aunt takes her South to get more information for her thesis on the General who died in 1782, and Ridge, lost in a world of negation and of mother-domination, happened on by accident, helps her, not only in her thesis but in testing her freedom and her wisdom. Mary faces down Mrs. Creston but, in spite of being accepted by the neighbors and accepting Ridge, is unable to get any more than a promise that, if after a year Ridge has made good, they'll be married. Back in Massachusetts and a teaching job, Mary is confronted by Alec, whose life, wealthy and assured, is ready and waiting for her.... Ridge is high man in the tug of war when he wins a junior partnership in a law firm after much self-distrust and Mary sticks with her heart's choice. Schmaltz -- and magazines are cheaper.