This tale of mid-19th-century England--about a lass and a lad of True Grit--takes place two decades later than the events in Burns' first novel, Stacey's Flyer (1985), in which a rousing Ben Hut-like race capped the rivalry of two stagecoach companies. Here, in the 1840's, the days of the stagecoach are numbered, with the advent of the railroads, and two young people find their destinies entwined with the progress of the mighty machines. Eighteen-year-old Kezzy, sacked from her job as parsonage maid, pregnant by the predatory parson, returns to the muddy work-camp of railroad laborers that was her home. There, Kezzy meets Daniel Pymer, heir to the Pymer stagecoach company, who is frustrated by his father Seth's refusal to admit that railroads are here to stay. Both Kezzy and Daniel vow to overcome and move on to better things. While Daniel reels under some shocking news about his parentage after Seth's death, and takes over a company expanded by acquisitions from an old rival, Kezzy makes her way--arduously--up and out of poverty to security, success, and respectability. Daniel and Kezzy seem made for each other; but Daniel, ambition at the boil, has a determination to marry into gentry. Before Daniel sees the light, there will be both genteel and gloves-off romantic advances; an unwanted baby welcomed with love; moments of innocent stolen pleasures; the appearance, in supporting roles, of sturdy characters from Stacey's Flyer; another coach race; and throughout, glimpses of first trains, steaming in to crowds, bands, and banners. Perhaps not as deep-gauged in historical minutiae as the world of the stages in Stacey's Flyer, but a good-natured, able, and appealing historical romance.