It's 1851. The Donation Land Claim Act grants white male citizens 320 acres of land in the Oregon Territory—if they can reach it. Before Luke Hamilton leaves from Independence, Missouri, he decides to marry. Enter Nora Macauley, hooker with a heart of gold. Why is Luke marrying a prostitute he just met? Well, Luke was born Lucinda and hopes that having a wife, plus the potency implied by Nora's young child, will prevent discovery on the way to Oregon.
Luke's passing as a man is handled with more realism here than in the other living-as-a-man novel I read recently, Words Heard in Silence by T. Novan and Taylor Rickard. Also, the trials of the Oregon Trail are pleasantly nostalgic for those who played a certain educational computer game. But what I appreciate most is that the romance is built slowly. The conclusion (true love!) is foregone; the pleasure is in the journey. Jae takes her time developing Luke and Nora, and I came to enjoy them, both separately and as a couple, so much that I want to read the sequel, Hidden Truths. Three-and-a-half out of five axles.