Lise Dupree, a librarian in Omaha, Nebraska in 1879, is part Native American and is attempting to pass for white. But keeping the secret becomes difficult. Her aunt is part of a Native band in trouble with the law for leaving their reservation without a pass. How can she let her aunt linger in prison? She must do something.
Lise meets District Attorney Zach Spencer, who suppresses his sympathy for the Native Americans while his job requires him to side with the government against them. Lise and Zach soon feel a tug of attraction. Complications are brought by a Senator who is working to get Zach elected to higher office for his own questionable reasons; and Rufus Christy, the local Indian agent, who bears a lifelong grudge against the people he’s supposed to serve. Then Zach must defend General Crook against the Ponca chief Standing Bear in a landmark trial. The outcome could ruin both his political chances and his relationship with Lise.
Nowak incorporates real people who were involved in the Standing Bear trial into the plot, such as a romance between the newspaper editor and Standing Bear’s interpreter Susette. I think the plot would have been improved if the revelation about Christy’s family being attacked by Sioux when he was a child had been placed earlier in the book, to give more dimension to Christy’s character. Otherwise, I liked this post-frontier romance and recommend it to those who relish steamy bedroom—err, library—scenes.