The year is 1862, and the Fraser River Gold Rush is at its height. Miners dominate the little town of New Derby, and they are eagerly awaiting the arrival of bride ships from England.
Scared, but eager for a new life, three very different young women step from a bride ship onto the rough shores of British Columbia. Elinor, the pampered adopted child of an elderly aristocrat, wants to escape her strict aunt and the stifling prospect of marriage, but her elegant manners are no preparation for the realities of frontier living. Clever Rosie, a prostitute since childhood, has chosen an uncertain future over prison and the workhouse. Janet has left the poverty of London, longing for a home and a husband, and a better life.
The three of them have formed an unlikely friendship during the hellish voyage. That friendship will be severely tested as they face discrimination, abuse, unlikely success, the possibility of love…and the threat of deportation. Will they be strong enough to survive in this rough new land, a land of gold miners, riverboats—and men unused to dealing with women who stand alone and face them as equals?