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When she became orphaned in 1920 at the age of seventeen, Sarah Morrison dutifully accepted the responsibility of raising two younger sisters. Martin Olsen, a good-hearted, lusty, widowed owner of a cannery in a small seacoast town, offered Sarah and her charges help and employment over the years. Now that Sarah has matured into a most attractive woman ñ one who currently runs the administrative half of his business ñ Martin occasionally m********es while secretly watching Sarah through the window of her cabin at night.
Having learned at seventeen to satisfy her desires without losing her virginity, Sarah at that time turned down a personable suitorís offer of marriage, owing to her realization that Gary would not wish to support her sisters. Deeply hurt by the swiftness with which Gary found another partner, Sarah quickly learned to hold all men at bay, so as to prevent further heartbreak. She thinks of Martin as a father, not as a potential lover. Now in her twenty-seventh year, this lonely woman turns to a female companion to satisfy her lust. She becomes passionately involved with her close friend Celia, even as guilt at having entered a lesbian relationship racks her.
Having reluctantly decided that the difference in age between Sarah and himself is too great for marriage to be an option, Martin turns for sexual satisfaction to Monica, a long-time friend and lover, but he still lusts after Sarah. On one memorable occasion, he becomes intimate with Sarah and her friend, Celia, in a passionate threesome. This mad escapade proves one of a kind, however. Celia marries and moves away, leaving Sarah once more alone. Occasionally, she satisfies her sensual need by having oral sex with Martin, although she maintains her virginity by never allowing penetration.
When ruggedly handsome Frank Townsend comes to work at the cannery to train as an assistant for Martin, Sarah finds that she is attracted to the virile newcomer, but she proves reluctant to form an intimate relationship with Frank. However, as Martin spends more time with Monica and Sarah finds Frank to be good company at dinner, she begins to have erotic dreams about her co-worker.
On Independence Day, Martin arranges for Frank to drive Sarah to the nearest large town, Port Angeles, for the festivities, while Martin spends the day with Monica. When an accident on the treacherous road strands Sarah and Frank overnight in the woods, the two mature friends finally realize the potency of the attraction between them. Having set off their own fireworks, they must now balance their new knowledge of their strong desire for each other with the demands of their jobs and their need to conceal past erotic adventures. When the secrecy surrounding a web of passionate relationships spun over the years threatens to wreck Sarahís and Frankís newfound happiness, old, caring friends come to the rescue.