Bright, mischievous and with a mind of her own, Sarah Goodhue becomes a mail-order bride at 18 to escape the life as a ""drudge"" she foresees if she stays in her conventional Maine community. Alex Pound, a Montana rancher, has advertised for a wife and Sarah responds, enclosing a picture in which she is the third girl from the left. Alex's picture, taken some time ago, shows a handsome man on a horse; arriving, Sarah is dismayed to discover him gray and 60, though kind, articulate, and humorous. She quickly comes to terms with the rigors of early ranch life; although the cold is daunting, she loves the mountains, is good with animals, and makes friends with the hands. What happens at night is more difficult; it's blessedly brief, but not brief enough. She has been told nothing of sex; Turner handles her situation realistically but not explicitly. Poignantly, except for this and in spite of their relative ages, she and Alex are compatible and seem to be negotiating a good life together when he is killed in an accident, leaving her the ranch. Although Sarah's decision to stay and run the ranch is a little pat, this is an compelling story about a strong-willed 19th-century woman forging her own life without conventional expectations of love and happiness; it provides interesting contrast to the lyrically told growth of love in MacLachlan's Sarah, Plain and Tall.