. Eden Paxton is on her way to No Name, Colorado with her mother when their train is stopped and robbed by bandits. Eden, an uncommon beauty, is kidnapped by the Sebastians (who are brothers) to be sold across the border to Mexico. Although her virginity keeps her safe from rape, she suffers abuse from the men, and despairs of ever being rescued.
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Matthew Coulter has been hunting the Sebastian brothers for years after they murdered his wife. Hot on their trail, he comes across the train wreck and Eden's mother, who begs him for help rescuing her daughter. But Matthew knows his prey well, and believes Eden is likely already dead. He continues his pursuit but without haste until he sees signs that Eden is still alive. He resolves to rescue her, get her to Denver, then continue his pursuit.
When Matthew finally catches up and rescues Eden, she is wary and distrustful of his intentions. Her ordeal has left her with broken bones and a bruised heart, but she still has faith that her brothers are also looking for her and will soon find them. Matthew is not so sure, since he must conceal their tracks from the Sebastians. When he starts leading Eden in circles to confuse their tracks, Eden calls him out and nearly shoots him.
Sick, weak, and exhausted, Eden slowly comes to trust Matthew. During the cold nights they share a bedroll, stories and music. Eden begins to have feelings for Matthew despite her cruel treatment, but Matthew feels like he's betraying his wife when he begins to have feelings for Eden.
They continue wandering in the wilderness, and Matthew acts unkindly towards Eden, telling her she doesn't have enough grit to be with a man like him. But she surprises him at every turn, showing him her skills with a revolver when she rescues HIM from a den of snakes, and sewing HIM up after he's attacked by a cougar.
Eventually, Matthew admits to loving Eden, and determines that in order for them to survive the wilderness, he must leave her in a protected camp and hit the trail alone to finally stump the Sebastians. Upon his return, they decided to get married, which means that they can be intimate and make love.
They determine it is safe to ride towards Denver, and Matthew promises to make every camp "special" by making love to her under the stars. Unfortunately, the Sebastian brothers catch them, and during a shoot out, Matthew and Eden would have died except for the timely arrival of Eden's brothers.
It seems that their ordeal is over. Matthew will return to No Name with Eden and her family and make a life. But, he has unfinished business and must see his revenge through, which drives a wedge between him and Eden. Eden relents, and lets him go.
Once on his way, Matthew realizes he must fully let his revenge--and dead wife--go in order to have a new life with Eden. So he returns to her and learns she is pregnant, which reaffirms his decision to return was the correct one. They move to Oregon, where Matthew's family is from, and build their life together.
Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoy the wilderness aspect of the story. The dangers (mountain lions and snakes) are accurate, though maybe a little exaggerated. The wilderness setting also really allows the focus to be on Matthew and Eden's relationship, and it is fun to see them make discoveries without the clutter of secondary characters.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Matthew leaves Eden behind and she believes he is dead. Instead of rolling over and accepting she will never reach home alive, she begins to make preparations to leave, including pulling out her hair to make a fishing line.
Opinion about the main character:
I love that Eden is a character who doesn't dwell in the past and become consumed by bad experiences. That she was able to be strong and get over her ordeal instead of whimpering (and being a weak heroine who always needs saving) makes her immensely likeable.