SPOILERS AHOY"The Madeleine Avery of yore would have been appalled by the mess Maddie had made of her life. Here she was, in a rickety wagon, dusty and sweaty, without even a chamber pot, making a journey to an Indian village with a man to whom she had given her virginity and who claimed to want absolutely nothing to do with her... and yet she felt as if she were awash with happiness. She felt free, liberated from all the stringent standards of behavior her mother had instilled in her since childhood."That pretty much says it all right there, but I'll give you a brief recap of the plot anyway. Madeleine (Maddie) Avery is the pampered daughter of a very old upper crust Philadelphia family. She has traveled with her younger brother and grandmother to live with her father in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. The hero of this piece is Daniel “Fox” Matthews. The President sent Daniel to keep an eye on Custer, but the two butt heads and Daniel's sent packing just before the massacre at Little Big Horn, and that's Daniel's Big Secret - no one saw Custer banish him so everyone will think he was a big coward, so he's come to Deadwood sort of incognito. I am sure you are scratching your head at this Big Secret same as I was - makes no sense to me either.Anyhoo, Daniel is attracted to the beauteous Maddie, but he shuns her for fear of how she'll react to his Big Secret and he hangs with some of the local *soiled doves* instead (yes, that term was used a couple of times, but then so was "pard" and "injin"). Maddie's father has some health issues, and he reveals a big secret from his past (lived with the Indians, illegitimate daughter), and asks Daniel to make sure his daughter is safe. Daniel sympathizes with the plight of the Indians and loads up a wagon of supplies and guns (!!), plus he plans to bring one of the local *soiled doves* who resembles Maddie along for some comfort. Maddie gets wind of this and manages to substitute herself for the look-alike, all with the help of her eighty-year old Philadelphia born and bred grandmother. You would think someone would worry about her virtue and appearances and all, but nooooo."Because I want to meet my half-sister!" Maddie cried. "I have wanted to go ever since Father told us about Yellow Bird and Sun Smile. I knew you wouldn't take me if I asked you, and I knew Father would forbid it, so Gramma Susan and I took matters into our own hands."Now Daniel's no prize of a hero either:"Why don't you return to the wagon and sort your ribbons, or whatever it is that you do before breakfast, and I'll join you shortly. After I am dry and fed, I'll decide what to do with you." Lovely, yet according to the book description Daniel "received the 1992 K.I.S.S. Hero Award (Knight in Shining Silver) from ROMANTIC TIMES." Why, I can't fathom...Back to Maddie and sisterly love, once they get home Maddie does an about face and starts making comments like this:"Poor Father." She stole another look into the depths of the wagon, where her half-sister had hunched in silence for more than three days. If not for her smell they might have forgotten she was even present."How can I come to love—truly love someone who—who behaves like a rabid dog?"How are you supposed to sympathize with a character like that? And Daniel's no prize either, but even worse than trying to like such an unlikeable pair is that there is no chemistry between them whatsoever, and the love scenes are just cheesy sex. According to the author's notes she did do a lot of research on the history of Deadwood, but for this reader it was so heavy-handed that I felt like I'd been closeted with a person who had just dumped a bottle of perfume on herself. While I really, really appreciate that the author wanted to write a story that focused on the plight of the Indians during the westward expansion, and why I'm awarding a second star to my rating, but there's just too much wall-paper in it for my tastes. YMMV.