A few years before the great Civil War, a young English woman and her father, having left the security of their wagon train, are lost in the unforgiving Californian desert, looking in vain for the landmark that marks the short-cut across those last western mountains which would lead them to the home of an old friend. George Castlewood gives all the water and rations he has to his daughter, Erema, and dies just a short distance from help. Rescued by kind Sampson “Uncle Sam” Gundry, the family friend they had been seeking, Erema lives for a time at his saw mill. One day, one Mr. Goad, a bounty-hunter from England, arrives at the mill, offering $10,000 for proof of Lord Castlewood’s death and custody of his young daughter. Lord Castlewood had been accused of the crime of patricide 15 years earlier, escaped from jail and been on the lam ever since. Erema, believing her father’s innocence and determined to clear his good name, returns to England to discover the long-lost secrets of her family and the cloudy circumstances of the murder of her grandfather.
Told by Erema herself, this is a grand story of mystery and the coming of age of an independent and courageous woman. Set in Victorian England and the throes of the Civil War, the story is replete with twists and turns of plot in every chapter.(Summary by Linda Dodge)