Charlene Winston hates her life.
When she was four years old her father, giving up hopes for a son, decided to make his youngest daughter his buddy, nicknamed her Charlie and began taking her along on hunting trips.
While other teenage girls are learning to apply makeup, dress attractively and flirt with boys Charlie, dressed in jeans, boots and a flannel shirt, is tromping fields, hunting pheasant, ducks, deer—whatever is in season.
Raped by her father’s hunting companion, Sam Gordon, she shoots him in the crotch, confiscates his pickup, and flees to Chicago where she finds a job in a gun club. With new friends, and a job she likes, she is happier than she has ever been in her life—except for a nagging fear of being discovered.
Carlo Penna, a former crime boss, and a regular patron of the club, takes a liking to Charlie. When Gordon tracks her down and tries to abduct her, Carlo intervenes. Taking her to his home, he treats her as if she were the daughter he hasn’t seen since he and his wife divorced.
He introduces her to Christina, a modeling agent under whose guidance Charlie blossoms into the beautiful young woman she was meant to be.
When she begins dating “Rod” who, unknown to her, is active in Mafia drug dealing and prostitution, Carlo has him called back to his Miami headquarters. Rod swears to get even. His vengeance leads to an explosive moment in which Charlie shoots two men who attempt to assassinate Carlo.
To protect Charlie, Carlo sends her to Paris. She enrolls in the Sorbonne and obtains a modeling agent.
In Paris, she finds success as a model and a fashion designer, and is courted by highly eligible men, including an English Earl, an Italian wine producer and a French professor.
Despite her success, Charlie feels that something is lacking and, as she searches for that elusive je ne sais quoi that will give meaning and purpose to her life, she learns that all is not going well back in Chicago.
Her former Mafia boyfriend’s persistent effort to infiltrate Carlo’s businesses threatens not only Carlo’s reputation, but his life as well. Deciding to eliminate the problem once and for all, Charlie flies to Miami intending to kill him; someone else beats her to it.
Once this threat is removed and the shooting incident case settled, Charlie returns to Chicago where she discovers the man of her dreams as well as answers that, until now, eluded her. They have been there all along.