Tawny-haired Valeria Peyton, with her Down-East conscience and romantic dreams of the West, arrived in the desolate little cowtown of Hope to marry Manley Fleetwood. He was not there to meet her and in his stead was taciturn Kent Burnett, cow hand, with evasive excuses. Later, when Manley did appear, her pride would not let her see the change in him and they were married in Kent’s disapproving presence.
The rambling ranch house of the rising young cattle rancher, which she had been led to expect, proved to be a forlorn shack far out in the Lonesome Land. Here she valiantly tried to adjust herself to the bleak outlook of a prairie wife. For months the change in Manley and his repeated absences were unexplained, until Val – the girl who had been reared to abhor drink – discovered that she was married to a drunken weakling. Rising above her disgust and disillusionment, she tried to help him but he sank lower and lower. Then disaster fell and most of their meager possessions were destroyed by a prairie fire. But in its wake she found staunch friends and a welcome “pal” in Kent Burnett, who barely saved her life. It was only when she learned that her husband had turned rustler that she decided to leave him. Then the tide of events moved swiftly and relentlessly to a killing – and Val found release from a hopeless situation.