In 1899, a strong and spirited young woman travels the width of America with the paralyzed sister she loves and a man she cannot bring herself to trust. She became prey. In her innocence, Kathleen Colby trusted a man no woman should ever have believed. She dreamed he would take care of her, and would help her care for her helpless sister. Instead, in a drunken rampage, he assaulted her and left her shattered on the muddy streets of an Alaskan boomtown. Kathleen does not let him stop her. She escapes Skagway with her paralyzed sister Josie, in spite of her attacker. Just before winter closes in, on the last ship of 1899, they sail away to the south. Their dangerous journey is only beginning. They travel across America at the turn of the twentieth century, by train, on horseback, and on foot. One man, a man of many secrets, sometimes journeys with the sisters, but Kathleen tries twice to leave him behind. She cannot allow him into her heart. Kathleen carries a gun, and is willing to shoot to kill or to take what she is owed. She trains herself to survive at any cost. For her unspeaking sister's sake and her own, she learns to live in a savage world. Whether or not she reaches the great city of New York, she has been on a harsh road too long. Will she ever learn to live as a woman again, and to open her heart to love?