Born the daughter of a prostitute in Appleby, Maine, in the 1840s, at the age of nine Kate Whittington is abandoned by her mother at a home for orphan girls. Brought up the sisters at the orphanage, Kate is resigned to being a spinster all her life — until at age 29, a newspaper ad changes her life forever:
“Rancher seeking wife. Send a photograph with an introductory letter to Reed Benton, Lone Star Ranch, Texas.”
There’s only one problem, and it’s a big one. Reed Benton, a Texas Ranger, did not place the ad. His overpowering father (now deceased) did, and now Kate is married (by proxy) to a man who has never heard of her.
Well, that’s not quite true: there are some other problems, like Reed’s son Daniel, just rescued from being brought up by the Comanches, and as wild as they. Like Charm Riley, just rescued from a life at Dolly’s Social Club and Entertainment Emporium.
Somehow Landis brings all of these disparate characters to life. Her story falters only when the conventions of the contemporary historical romance intrude–no, even more–override what these beautifully rendered people would actually do, if left to their own natural instincts.