After she survives a stage coach robbery, Dessa Fallon is rescued by loner Ben Poole. Together they set out to find her brother Mitchell, thought killed in the war but said to now be leading an outlaw gang. Along the way they find love.
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When summoned by her parents, well-do-do Dessa Fallon heads west by train, then stagecoach. Outlaws rob the coach and take her prisoner. She manages to escape and wanders lost in the wilderness of Montana until Ben Poole rescues her.
All Ben wants is to be left alone, and so he takes her to Virginia City where her parents await her arrival. When they get there she learns that her parents have been killed in a fire. Determined to find her lost brother Mitchell, she decides to remain.
Attracted to the beautiful city woman, Ben offers to help in her search. It isn't long before they fall in love. He followed her back to Kansas City and there discovers just how far apart their worlds are and returns home to the wilds of Montana.
Will Dessa return to the man she loves and find her brother or remain in the civilization she's always enjoyed?
She didn't really think about what she was going to do, or even consider her chances. If she stayed, this animal would have his way with her, and she would die before she let that happen. She had to try. As quietly as she could, she crept along in the darkness cast by the huge trees that grew on the creek bank. And all the while, all she could think of was the heartbreak of learning of Mitchell's death in the war, of the way Mother looked when she found out, as if her very reason for living had just flown out of her. The anguished gaze in both her parents' eyes when they heard news of her brother's death would remain with Dessa always. If she died here, what would it do to them? They lavished all their love on her—so much sometimes that she felt smothered.
At last her eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and she was able to make out an enormous pile of boulders at the foot of a rise. If she could reach the deepening shadows, Coody would have no idea where to look for her.
Every nerve in her body urged her to bolt for safety like a stampeding animal. She forced herself to measure the distance, judge her chances, and gauge the right time to go. Hair on the back of her neck prickled, chills tightened the muscles of her stomach, and her wet dress weighted her to the ground. Coody was still cursing the boy at the top of his lungs, his back turned to her. She had to do it now or not at all. It was time to move. She slunk away, hunkering low so she wouldn't cast even the vaguest of shadows when she left the shelter of the trees and headed for the rocks.