Willa Hammer has nothing left after narrowly escaping the lynch mob that unjustly hanged her foster father except her dog, her faith, and the protection of a secretive family. She joins their wagon train heading West, never realizing she is traveling to the wilds of Bighorn Mountain, where a rundown ranch and the arms of an untamed, hardened cowboy await her.
When Willa Hammer's guardian is lynched and her home burned, she finds herself heading west with teenage Charlie and Jo Bell Frank, whose down-and-out father has been killed for cheating at cards. The three are heading for the ranch of Oliver Westwood, Charlie and Jo Bell's uncle. They don't know that Oliver has died until they meet up with Smith Bowman, a former protege of Oliver's who predicts that Maud, Oliver's mean-spirited widow, won't let the young people cross her threshold. Arriving at the ranch, Willa finds Maud sprawled on the kitchen floor with a broken leg. They settle in: Charlie to become a cowboy, Jo Bell (who is beautiful, ill-tempered and foul-mouthed) to be a nuisance until she finally runs off with a man, and Willa to perform endless chores and fall in love with Smith. Smith meanwhile tortures himself and the reader with feelings of guilt over Oliver's death. Not even this frontier romance's flood of crude language can obscure the fact that Garlock's ( Glorious Dawn ) boring characters are trapped in a paper-thin plot.