On North Carolina's Outer Banks, there is a legend about Sea-born Woman, whose timely birth saved her Irish emigrant ship from being destroyed by pirates nearly 300 years ago. The ghost of the Sea-born Woman is said to give aid to sailors around Portsmouth Island even today. Roberta "Bert" Lenehan is a latter-day sea-born woman who comes to the island as a National Park Service volunteer. Bert is between jobs and lovers, and she believes that a three-month stint as caretaker of Portsmouth village—a remote, pristine, picturesque ghost town—is what she needs to soothe her soul. She soon learns differently. One of the previous caretakers died under mysterious circumstances, and another woman turns up dead on the island shortly after arrival. From park ranger Hunter O'Hagan, she hears rumors of artifact hunters digging illegally on Portsmouth and learns the story of Hunter's distant ancestor Jerushia Spriggs O'Hagan, the original Sea-born Woman. Who is the killer stalking the island? And what bearing do a murdered pirate and centuries-old legend have on the crimes? Those are the questions Bert is pressured to answer as a hurricane bears down on the island and she finds herself the target of a killer.