This romance/hoss opry--which takes place a century before the bestselling trade paperback, This Calder Sky--has all those dear, familiar warmed-overs, from the bad Yankee banker to the putty bride who trades ribbons for trail dust. And Dailey kicks the clichÃ‰s to a good gallop here--with blazing-saddle sex and atmospheric detail. Big Benteen Calder is the lean-jean who marries petite, genteel Lorna before he leaves Texas, where his father was ruined by banker Iud Boston; and together the newlyweds head to Montana territory to stake a claim amid the ""whispering gold"" of the rich grass, which could ""put two hundred extra pounds on a steer at maturity."" Benteen's preparation for the trek is something on the order of Caesar's for taking Gaul, but finally the train is on its way. And Lorna, even though there's another woman along (nice Mary, who's not sure Lorna can take the hardship), is headed for fear and disillusionment before acquiring the wit and strength of a full-fledged pioneer woman. Along the way: Lorna, angry over Benteen's insensitivity, shows some interest in big Bull Giles, who works for evil banker Boston; Boston plans to meddle in Benteen's Montana Territory plans for his Triple C herd; in Dodge City the Calders meet up with ""Lady Elaine,"" wife of an English Earl--who's really none other than Benteen's runaway mother. (Elaine won't let on that she's Ma Calder until Benteen and Lorna are settled on the claim, but she's the one who helps them edge out Boston.) And eventually there'll be two sons born (one lost on a Boston-sponsored Indian raid on the cattle), fires, raids, barbed-wire foul-ups, fatal river crossings, round-ups, and stampedes--ending up with old scores settled and a big, big future for the Triple C. With details that'll warm a tenderfoot's heart (like the angle of grass-bend under equine or bovine, hoofs), this is one fun eater: an old nag, sure, but brand it A for energy.