Men roil with passion, it seems, upon Rachel's mere appearance--which phenomenon moves matters along in this active if raggedy adventure set in the mid-19th-century Southwest. First to respond to Rachel like a pub dart is gentle Etienne, a childhood companion (""she accepted him as she would a storm . . . as a last cresting surge made him groan and convulse""), but he is murdered, and Rachel is raped by Tom, of nearby Gloryoaks plantation. Tom's gentlemanly brother Harry marries Rachel, but she's dosed to love until' brother Matt turns up at Gloryoaks. Bang, bang, and Harry's dead, an ""accidental"" suicide; and Matt and Rachel, tormented by guilt, wed and travel to the Rio Grande. They stake out land, take in a survivor of a Comanche raid and her child, and while Matt tries his hand with cattle, dutifully sires a child for a neighboring Don in need of an heir, and fights in the Civil War, Rachel holds off marauders, kills a few, begins a spread of sheep, and takes a lover. But Matt and Rachel reunite after Tom returns for a finale of blood and barking guns. Mindless but industrious.