Opening an ancient trunk transforms Doctor Rolfe Almersson's life. When the spiritually-sensitive academic breaks his rules about touching an article sans gloves, fierce love wells at him. The unwrapped parchment reveals a burnt diary written by Magistrate Nels Halverson. The diary documents meeting seventeen-year-old orphan Aindrias Aster in 1701. Nels describes their eventual love affair, along with tragedies and triumphs in infatuated, intimate detail. Rolfe's obsession with his find overwhelms him. Reading about the men's evolving relationship influences Rolfe's tempestuous relationship with his lover. Will the story's romance and tragedy push Rolfe forward into romantic liberation and academic triumph or will it ruin his life?