A masterful story of the Santa Fe Trail in 1846 during a time of fierce competition between traders who hauled goods past Bent's Fort to Talvarez Hacienda near Taos in New Mexico Territory at the dawn of the Mexican American War. Kate Willingham must hand-carry a locked chest to an unkwn aunt in Taos. To cross the unforgiving wilderness, Kate hires on as Thomas McCann's personal cook, never suspecting that he is President Polk's secret emissary. Kate's journey becomes a test of endurance and hor. Trouble befalls her at the hands of villaius Henry Nave. But she blames freighter Luke Beckhart, a mercenary, bent on making a profit on the coming war with Mexico. Determined to buy Talvarez Hacienda, Beckhart and his partner Don Jacinto, suspects there is a spy in their midst. They do t realize a villain other than Nave, wants the chest, and will kill to get it. Love, loss, death and birth color the tightly woven fabric of this classic human saga, as each traveler faces circumstances that tries their soul and changes their heart.