A combination of overwork and jet-leg propels Julia Fairfax into becoming engaged to a golf-playing wine buff called Oscar. But when she realises that she has fonder feelings for his adorable Labrador than for Oscar himself, she is forced to confront the fact that there is something drastically wrong. Ditching her fiance and jacking in her job, she decides to revolutionise her life. Her new career as a cook on a pair of hotel boats is certainly a departure, and teaches her more about life than how to get a couple of narrow boats through a lock. But even afloat, Julia's past catches up with her. Not only must she contend with the persistent Oscar (not to mention his frightful mother and her own mother's determined matchmaking), but also the arrival of her childhood enemy, the enigmatic Fergus Grindley.