Carolina Harper is bound to traverse the Santa Fe trail in the spring of 1846. War with Mexico is imminent, and Santa Fe, the Jewel of New Mexico, lies at the heart of the contested territory. Still numb from the deaths of her son and her husband, Carolina sets out from Westport, Missouri, with a freed slave, a Mexican servant, and a scarred, reticent Mountain Man. The plight of her three young, motherless cousins goads her into action, for she is determined to reach them in Santa Fe before the anticipated war.
The Santa Fe trail is fraught with dangers – disease, Indians, the hazards of nature. And beyond the travails of the perilous journey lies New Mexico, a territory claimed by two powerful nations preparing for war. Carolina herself feels town between the two cultures.
Born in the United States of Spanish descent, she enters the strange and marvelous world of her father's origin only to come face-to-face with the most feared man in New Mexico – her father's mysterious brother, who will stop at nothing to crush the swelling tide of the invading Anglos!