This is two stories, one set in the pioneering days of the Wild West in the 1880s concerning Emily, a cosseted 15-year-old sent from England to marry a young railroad heir whom she has never met, and the other about a girl in present time travelling with her ecologist mother on a month’s field research to the same Crow Mountain in Montana.
Both strands run in parallel. Emily survives a terrible accident when all her travel companions are wiped out. Hope survives an accident near the same place. Emily tells her strand of the story in the first person in a diary that Hope finds, and it quickly becomes a love letter written to the engaging bad-boy who rescues her. Hope, stranded with Cal, wrongly accused of rape, also discovers love. Nate teaches Emily how to live in nature and respect the indigenous Crow people, how to survive danger, and ultimately how to throw off her strict upbringing and follow her heart. It is left to Hope to bring the conflicts of the past to an unexpected and satisfying conclusion.
Both tender and painful, the relationships are set against a stunning landscape where ancient conflicts between two families are strongly evoked. In time-slip novels, often one story draws us more than the other, but in this case both are evenly handled. Hope, moving away from her mother’s over-protective ambience, is as interesting as Emily in her quest for love. Both stories reach a dramatic climax, and both endings have clever twists. The only jarring note is that Hope’s mother, cast as a feminist bad guy, would surely never have meekly rolled-over for a man in a uniform. That aside, this is an enthralling read.