The last thing a mail order bride needs is a highwayman's intervention in the form of a stagecoach robbery. Especially when time is of the essence and she needs a father for her baby. Preferably before she begins to show.
When Melissa married John Carter because her family couldn't afford to feed her, she had no idea of the cruelty of the man. John Carter beats her mercilessly and makes her life a living hell.
After seeing an ad in the paper for paid passage westward, she answers the ad in the hopes to use the ticket to escape John Carter.
She gets on a coach from Boston, heading west, with no money, and needing a roof over her head. Not just for herself, but for the baby she's carrying, a baby she has to save from John Carter's cruelty. Expecting a baby has changed the stakes for Melissa. She must provide a safe and loving home for the child. Time is of the essence if she is to marry in time to convince her new husband that the baby she'll give birth to is his.
A stagecoach robbery is a deterrent she did not count on, nor need. When the robbers learn her husband is a wealthy rancher, she's taken hostage, costing her precious time in a plan that hinges on timeliness.
She hates the leader of the highwaymen. Hates him with a passion and is beyond angry that the time is ticking while he negotiates her ransom.
Jed Cunningham's a highwayman, certainly, but one with honor. And a heart, it seems. He can't stand the idea of sending the stunning feisty Melissa Carter to marry a rich rancher. She's precisely the kind of woman who needs to be loved.
But she doesn't seem to see that.