All the romantic possibilities that engage teenaged imaginations are provided here in a story based on fact, bolstered by quiet humor and decorated with only a few (but not overdone) love scenes. On a trip east to Boston to recruit women and girls to help populate the booming bachelor territory of Seattle in the late 19th Century, Asa Mercer fired the determination of the 17 year old, orphaned Abigail Cabot, who wanted to stand on her own two feet in the world. Mercer's financing was shaky, his motives questioned at every hand, but his big promises were persuasive and Abigail decided to go West as a Mercer Belle. The promises collapsed and Mercer was reduced to taking only those girls who had the three hundred dollar fare. Abigail stowed away and reached Seattle in Mercer's debt. The well detailed shipboard life and her companion Mercer Belles will come alive for young readers. They may even be able to believe in the too-good-to-be-true Barton, a fellow passenger with whom she falls in love. Nevertheless, a number of proposals and that big debt must be worked off before the inevitable /Cabot match comes off. Abigail's brave and ingenious methods of earning money as well as the colorful place and populace will win reader admiration.