, and in England, beautiful Caroline Shepherd is recruited by a handsome missionary to join other young women in a trek westward to the Mormon state in the mountain west of America. In the Rockies, young fur trapper Sam Wilde is left for dead by savage fur pirates led by DeBreen. Far away in Texas, rancher Nathan Tolliver finds himself alone after his twin brother is murdered by land thieves, whom Nathan tracks down and kills. To find a wife to share his cattle kingdom, Nathan joins four Texans riding northward in a hunt for mates among the Mormon women.
On the trackless Great Plains, the threads of life of these characters intertwine. The women going westward toward Salt Lake City, thinly guarded and, like beasts of burden, pulling their scant belongings in carts harnessed to their shoulders, become a magnet for myriad predators. A lusting Pawnee chieftain looks on them as natural prey, DeBreen sees them as easy pickings for profit and pleasure, the Texans see them as a source of wives. Nathan falls in love with the lovely Caroline and vows to protect the Mormon women at all costs and against all odds. Brigham Young has sent a band of armed men from Salt Lake City to meet the handcart company and to bring every woman to his land of Zion. They arrive with guns at the ready to keep the women from changing their plans as the dangers increase and go off with the Texans.
This gripping novel explodes with frontier passion and adventure. Based on the true events of the Mormon effort to forge a polygamous nation - Brigham Young called “Deseret” - in the heartland of America, it is at once an epic of endurance and a shattering journey into the soul.
“How about your religion?” cried Ruth.
“Well, what about it?” Sophia asked.
“You can’t give it up.”
“Sure I can, for a good man.”
“But you don’t have to for you can find a husband in Salt Lake City,” Ruth said.
“Maybe so, but this way I get to pick the one I want,” Sophia said. “Most likely I wouldn’t get that chance in Utah. And besides, any man who chooses me might already have ten wives or more.”
Ruth looked imploringly at Caroline. “Tell them they must go with us.”
“They must make their own decision,” Caroline replied.
“This is awful,” Ruth said in a plaintive voice.
“I sure don’t think so,” Sophia said happily. She snuffed out the candle and the tent went dark.
The young women grew still, resting on their sleeping pallets and thinking their private thoughts. Outside, the storm raged on.
Caroline climbed up from her bed. She knew the girls were still awake, but there was something she must do. She moved toward the tent flap that opened to the outside.
Lightning flared, like a sun exploding. The inside of the tent became bright as day.
The light winked out and black night once again filled the tent.
“Caroline, where are you going?” Ruth called out above the storm.
“I’m going to properly thank a man who did something very brave for me, and to say good-bye to him,” Caroline said in the darkness.
“What do you mean?” Ruth asked.
“Shut up and grow up,” Sophia snapped.
Caroline untied the flap and stepped out into the storm. The rain struck hard, wetting quickly with its ice-cold deluge. The howling wind sucked away her breath. She shivered, and her lungs pulled hard to catch the swift air.
She tied the tent flap back into place and turned, her eyes probing the blackness. Lightning struck the ground somewhere close to the south. In the bright glare, the mounds of the tarpaulins covering the sleeping Texans became visible glistening like wet oilcloth for a brief moment. She moved into the night, walking the dark world with the wind and the rain.