An offensive story about a young Bostonian, as snobbish as her stereotype, who joins her father in Spanish California in order to make a new life with him and her young and beautiful stepmother. From the moment priggish Miss Peck arrives at the Presidio of San Francisco, a bleak and lonely outpost in the year 1819, she is repelled by the ""foreigners"" around her. Her relationship with Marta, her stepmother, is never resolved despite their ambivalent admissions of either hostility or affection. Raised in the partial traditions of liberalism, (she subtly scoffs at Catholicism, but fiercely fights book censorship) Susan waves the banner of ""free thought"", defying California law. Though much of her behavior threatens her father's chances for a land grant, Susan Peck perseveres, oddly winning the affection of all, to the dumbfounded surprise of the reader. Susan even manages to halt a revolution in an outlandish episode. Were there some outward conversion to solid values, one might excuse the excesses, but the author seems as smitten with her self-righteous heroine as the people in the town and Marta who can barely recover from the impact of Susan's ""social importance"". The reader will find her a bore.