After two novels re-imagining the history of her own New England ancestors (The Heretic’s Daughter, 2008; The Traitor's Wife (originally entitled The Wolves of Andover, 2010)), Kent turns her attention to post–Civil War Texas, where law and morality are far more elastic.
In 1870, Lucinda Carter steals away (steal being the operative word) from the Fort Worth brothel where she’s worked in semi-slavery as a prostitute. But do not expect her to have a heart of gold. Despite the occasional seizures she hides from most of her clients, she is tough, conniving and deadly when necessary. Having procured a teaching position under false pretenses, she heads to Middle Bayou, Texas, where legend has it that the pirate Lafitte buried his gold and where she hopes to meet up with her secret lover. Meanwhile, young Oklahoman Nate Cannon joins the Texas police force and is assigned to work with veteran Rangers George Deerling and Tom Goddard. As Lucinda manipulates her way into the hearts of her new employers, a community of former land and slave owners from the Deep South, Nate and the Rangers track ruthless killer William McGill. Goddard, a former medical student with an intellectual bent, takes Nate under his wing, but Nate finds he needs to prove himself to the more coldblooded Deerling. Shortly after Deerling finally accepts Nate and confides that he once had a daughter he mistreated, the experienced Ranger is killed by one of McGill’s henchmen. Goddard tells Nate that he loved and married Deerling’s daughter, although, as a child, she was permanently damaged by her father’s decision to place her in an asylum for her epilepsy. She ran off while pregnant, and Goddard does not know what happened to their child, but his wife has become Lucinda. After McGill and Lucinda’ Middle Bayou plans go awry and Nate and Goddard close in, all hell breaks loose.
A cinematic but refreshingly unsentimental take on the classic Western, starring a woman who is no romantic heroine, but a definite survivor.