May the road rise up to meet you . . . The Civil War has ended, but for Corporal Patrick 'Rick' Fergusson the battle rages on. Still haunted by what he witnessed on the battlefield, the earnest Irishman is heading west, seeking only to be free of the past. His services are in high demand; wealthy East Coasters in need of escort clamor to join him on the journey. But one client, a beautiful lady named Cat, disturbs Rick's newfound equilibrium. High society widow Catriona O'Brian is anxious to get to California, even if it means traveling with the handsome corporal who seems to dislike her so. Cat no longer seeks marriage; she has pinned all her hopes on making it to the west coast and starting her own winery. Between the elements, wild animals, and hostile natives, however, everything seems to be conspiring against her. Time and again, Rick comes to her rescue. And soon, the independent lass discovers that her biggest obstacle may be the longing of her own traitorous heart . . .