The Civil War is raging, as is racial tension. Abby is the young, recently widowed wife of a Northern Civil War surgeon, who encounters many wealthy and unscrupulous men as she mourns the death of her husband. Her adopted son, Michael, falls in love with a former slave, Manda. They want to escape to a place where the social climate is different, away from prying eyes that judge and condemn.Michael and Manda travel by railroad from New York to California, where Manda would be recognized as Michael's common-law wife. They hope to begin a new life and start a vineyard. But fate deals them a different hand when Manda is abducted, first by Mormons, then soldiers, and later by a Chinese group in San Francisco involved in enslaving young women and sending them as concubines to Asia. Abby, Michael, and an older former slave, Betty, band together to bring Manda back. Each will have to make a sacrifice and each will be forever changed by a series of events that takes them places they never expected.
Joel Berman writes a thrilling saga set against the backdrop of historical events: the atrocities of the Civil War, medicine in the mid-19th century, emancipation, the suffrage movement, the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, the conversion from sailing ships to steam ships, and the influx of the opium trade into the United States. Berman is a writer and surgeon who has written over 20 books. He is currently writing historical fiction and lives in California.