It's not easy being an independent woman in the 1800's, so when Amanda wins a horse ranch, she is thrilled until she meets the surly, stubborn co-owner. Amanda Sites is 19 years old and has been taking care of herself for years, with gambling playing a large role in her ability to do so. In a particularly expensive game, she wins a title to a functional horse ranch and she thinks that her life will become easier quite soon.
Unfortunately, the cad who lost the game to her failed to mention that the title he had was for half of the ranch, with his brother owning the remaining half. Upon her arrival at the ranch, she meets the main question, Grant Gardner and discovers that he is not about to let her control the ranch, if he has anything to say about. She soon charms the household help and is well-liked, except for Grant and the woman he is to marry. They both intend to maintain ownership of the property.
In addition, Grant has made more than a few assumptions about both her morals and character, primarily based on her appearance and speech, her unconventional childhood and the fact that she was gambling in the first place. He is also engaged to be married to a woman that he believes is an example of what a proper lady should be, which is in total contrast to everything about Amanda.
He does not hesitate to insult Amanda on several occasions, but is shocked when the true character of his fiance is shown. In actuality, she appears to a cold, calculating woman who behaves otherwise to manipulate people around her. The extension of her unlikable personality also results in her having little sympathy for anyone. She is almost vicious in her reaction after learning that Amanda will be at the ranch for the foreseeable future.
Grant is sure that she is a cheater and a prostitute and he wants her to leave the ranch. He believes that she could not possibly have won the horse farm in a fair game, so he sees no way for her deed to be valid. As their fights become more passionate, so do their feelings and the two make love. Instead of improving his opinion of her, he is upset at the realization that she gave him her virginity. He still treats her with disrespect and they argue, until they both realize that the reason they are so volatile with one another is that they have fallen in love. Finally, at the end of the book it appears that the two are in love and will spend their lives together, despite their radically different beliefs.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked the story only because of Amanda. I am a sucker for independent women in this time period, because it was almost impossible for a woman to take care of herself. She was only 19, and beautiful, so she did not have to take care of herself, given the numbers of unmarried men in the west at this time. She took care of herself because that was important to her.
Best scene in story:
A particularly memorable scene occurred at the beginning, which actually set the tone for the rest of the novel. While Amanda was gambling, it was easy to see that at first, no-one took her seriously. In many saloons at the time, women were only there for one reason and it did not have anything to do with gambling. As the game progresses, it is fun to see the changing reactions of those around her.
Opinion about the main character:
I strongly disliked Grant. Even though his character improves throughout the book, he was rude and insulting to her many times throughout the book, including minutes after meeting. He never apologized to her and therefore the "Happily Ever After" ending did not ring true.