In 1875 Virginia-bred Maggie Bankhead is teaching on a reservation at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. A band of Comanche people arrive, led by their new chief, Shanaco. Since adulthood, Shanaco has lived in a world between the two cultures of his warrior father and white captive mother. Reservation life with its deprivations, prejudice, and limitations is a jolt. Maggie defends him against corrupt army officers and the sexual predator who is the commander’s daughter. When beaten and left in the freezing cold, Maggie rescues, hides, and cares for the fort’s captive. He returns her favors with hot sex and love. They run off, marry, and hide out at his ranch until his name is cleared.
This western romance is full of “tell” rather than “show” from its intrusive narrator, who even informs us that Maggie has a “self-depreciating sense of humor.” Stereotypes abound, from noble savage to plucky schoolmarm (who teaches Emily Dickinson before that poet’s work has been published), to thuggish gamblers. The dialogue is strictly bad western, not life, abounding in clichés like “don’t worry your pretty head.” The plot ends with a whimper as the central injustice is undone by others offstage as our main couple honeymoons.