Beatrice Collier has had a hard life. Born into poverty, she was orphaned at six and raised in a state-run facility. As a child, she never knew the joy of the holidays. When she turned eighteen, she married for security, rather than love. Having never really known true affection, she had no inkling what she was missing.
Ten years into their marriage, Beatrice’s husband was killed in a freak accident in the textiles factory where he worked, leaving her alone again at twenty-eight. With no real education, and jobs at a premium she finds work as a woman’s companion to support herself. When her current employer dies, she’s once again out of work. Rather than search for another job, she answers an ad for a mail order bride and sets out on a cross-country journey from her Pennsylvania home to the state of Washington.
Maxwell (Max) McCauley owns four hundred acres of prime property and makes his living as a horticulturalist, overseeing the largest privately owned acreage of Western White Pines in the western U.S. Well educated, a stickler for detail, his expertise is in demand, making him far too busy to properly court a woman. Yet, his home needs a woman’s touch. He needs a woman’s touch. Rather than waste time searching for a wife in an area where women are still few and far between, he asks his housekeeper to do whatever it takes to find him a suitable wife. The older woman takes her task to heart, placing advertisements in a half dozen newspapers.
However, her brutally honest ad about Max’s business, and often inclement weather in Washington state, repels more women than it attracts. And, at the end of the week-long advertisement, there are only two applicants.
Max wasn’t sure what he was expecting when his housekeeper told him that the woman she’d chosen for him was a widow. However, it definitely wasn’t the strong-willed, independent spitfire with dark red hair and the most magnificent golden eyes. His previous plan to stay at arms-length until they got to know one another went out the window within twenty minutes of Bea’s arrival. Despite her outwardly attractive appearance, there’s a sadness to Bea he can’t quite identify.
Beatrice can’t believe what she’s reading when she receives the telegram offering her the chance to become Mr. McCauley’s wife. Perhaps, at last, she’ll find a real home, with a man who can support her, and with whom she can work side-by-side.
Her only concern is how he’ll react when she tells him the one secret she’s been keeping from everyone for as long as she can remember. As much as she dreads the admission, she knows they can’t marry until she’s confessed. Will he send her packing on the first train headed east when he finds out the truth?