Olivia and Luca Felicone had known each other nearly all their lives, but when they fell in love as teenagers and eloped to London, they broke the hearts of those closest to them. Luca's parents run Marinella's restaurant, the colourful hub of life in the otherwise bleak north-eastern seaside town of Watersford, and his mother, Angela, has never forgiven Olivia for causing such a rift in her beloved family.
On a freezing January night Olivia's life is shattered when she learns that Luca has been killed in a car accident on the M1. She is left with nothing, and after suffering from weeks of overwhelming grief, she abandons her job and returns North to where Luca has been buried in Watersford, just to be close to him - even though she knows she will not be welcome at Marinella's.
Olivia's chance meeting with Luca's married twin brother, Marc, leads to the realization that he is experiencing a loss almost as painful as her own. Their desolation draws them into an affair which both know has no future, but fills the space where Luca should be. It is a course of action that can only spiral out of control, and when it does, the consequences are both explosive and cruel.