Maggie Stanley has endured years of sexual violence by her stepfather in order to protect her mentally challenged mother and younger sister. When he attempts to sell her newborn son to a crooked adoption attorney, she ends up on an open boxcar with no money, no supplies and a hungry baby. Desperate to provide for her son, Jaimie, and very sick with an untreated kidney infection, she meets Rafe Kendrick.
Rafe Kendrick had a perfect life, until his pregnant wife and young son were killed in a car accident. Since then, he prefers to drink alcohol, roam the country and be alone, ignoring his wealth and extended family. When he meets Maggie, he intends to help her get on her feet for a week or two and resume his nomad existence. After Rafe pawns his wife's wedding ring to pay for a motel room room and other essentials, Maggie passes out and requires hospitalization.
He quickly develops romantic feelings for Maggie, adores Jaimie and the situation motivates him to change his own life. After calling his brother, accessing funds and following Maggie's release from the hospital, Rafe takes Maggie and her son to his ranch. She is under the impression that he will be loaning her money and therefore watches every penny very closely, while Rafe just wants to love her. They marry, in a bid to protect her and her son from her stepfather and he begins legal action to become her son's legal father.
After misunderstandings about spending money, her expectations of their relationship and that Rafe wants their marriage to be real, the two finally make love in an emergency lodge on his ranch during a blizzard. Rafe also manages to get consent from her childlike mother to pick up Maggie's sister, but before long, her stepfather kidnaps her and the baby at gunpoint. She convinces another woman at a road-stop to smuggle her baby out under her coat and to contact the police.
Maggie is saved and her stepfather is eliminated as the result of the police stand-off. They return to the ranch and begin a safe life together, without fear. Eventually, her mom comes to live with with them. This is the first book in a series involving Rafe's extended family, so they are also mentioned in lesser capacities in later novels.
Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoyed the character growth between both characters and the fact that his love for Maggie and Jaimie in no way detracted from the love he had for his first wife and their sons. His grief over losing them was very real and therefore he was able to appreciate his new family.
Best scene in story:
Rafe and Maggie are on their way home from shopping and she worries about spending his money. He thinks she doesn't trust him and gets mad because he doesn't know what he is doing wrong. After yelling at him that she was ready for intimacy, just nervous about disappointing him, she jumps out of the vehicle in a blizzard. She gets lost, he finds her and they stay in the cabin, where they finally make love. It was detailed without being obscene and very realistic for both people.
Opinion about the main character:
I loved that although Maggie was victimized, she was not a victim. She was strong and even when she was very sick and had no money, she did not want to depend on anyone else.