From the shores of the Potomac, a society girl begins an epic journey Karen Hampton comes to Washington, DC, from New York City to celebrate the end of the Civil War. For weeks she dances, dines, and drinks, until all the parties and receptions have blurred together. By the end of the season, she has accomplished what every debutante is after: betrothal to an up-and-coming politician. But Karen is not satisfied with her prize. She intends to marry for love, and there is but one man in Washington who can move her heart. She first meets him under the dome of the Capitol, and then sees him again while bathing on the banks of the river. He is Vance Paxton, an upstart Texas representative whose copper skin and frontier clothes mark him as more than a creature of the Beltway. His love will carry her away from Washington to one of the last great battles of the American West, where Karen Hampton will learn what it means to live.