Ashley desperately tries to find her prize stallion in a blinding snowstorm when she is thrown off her mare by a low hanging branch. Shane’s horse, Dancer comes close to tromping over her as she lay unconscious on the trail. He takes her to his hunting cabin when she awakens abruptly to find herself with nothing to separate them but a threadbare blanket. She knows that she should be horrified, but can’t find the suitable outrage when she notices how very male and dangerously handsome he is. Shane, as usual, is witty, haughty and completely maddening. After Ashley convinces Shane to help her find her stallion against his better judgment, and after a trip to her cabin, they start on their journey. They become spellbound by one another, but neither will admit it, even to themselves. Shane has been with many women……he uses them to assuage his lust and then moves on. Ashley is innocent, however Shane thinks she is a widow. This is not the truth, but as far as Ashley is concerned, it is an unimportant white lie. Little does she know how dearly she will pay for that white lie in the future. They can’t control their feelings and succumb to lust as they make love in Shane’s hunting cabin. He is incensed when he discovers he has breached her maidenhead, but nothing can be done about that now and he continues tenderly after one question is answered, “Are you sure?” He can’t believe how wonderful lovemaking is with this innocent woman and how much he still wants her, when in the past after he has had a woman, the longing goes away. Ashley is taken aback at what exploded between them and knows deep in her heart that it is quite rare. She already feels something deep blooming, but knows better than to voice those feelings.
Shane was raised by the Cheyenne until he was fifteen. When his parents’ wagon train got bogged down in the mountains on their way to California, almost everyone died of starvation or exposure. Only his mother, pregnant with him, and one other boy survived. A Cheyenne hunting party found them, took them in and welcomed them as their own. When the warrior that Shane’s mother fell in love with died, she took her Indian son back to Boston to live in the white world, so he feels both Indian and white. That feeling takes a great toll on his life. There are demons in his past that prevent him from finding peace or love. On the trail they come across one of Shane’s Indian friends, Red Wolf and she is fascinated all over again by this amazing man as she watches them reminisce, speaking Cheyenne and using sign language. After Red Wolf leaves, warm and comfortable in a cave, Ashley is amazed at herself as she discovers that she not only has emotional feelings for Shane but physical ones as well and she seduces him! She was raised on a ranch where the hands treated her as one of the boys, so she learned a great many sexual facts that most girls had no knowledge. Her mother died in childbirth, so she is quite different from women who have the vapors when anything reeks of real life. She knows she should be ashamed of herself but she simply is not! This new act of love makes her feelings even stronger, but she still keeps them inside. She knows Shane is a hard man and she does not want anything from him that he can’t or won’t return freely. As hard as it is to admit, she is probably just another notch on his belt. She would be surprised to find out just how wrong she is. He’s surprised at the depths of his feelings and isn’t quite sure how to handle them. He has never been with such an amazing woman. She was getting under his skin more and more but he knows he can never settle down, not with what is waiting for him when he stops running. He couldn’t do that to anyone, especially her.
They find Dante, but because of Ashley’s impatience, she tries to rope him on her own. Shane runs to her rescue, knowing that when Dante rears up, if his lethal hooves come down on Ashley’s lush body, she will be crushed like so many leaves on a winter’s day. He gets to her just in time to push her out of the way but takes the brunt of Dante’s hooves instead of her, and now his blood is running into the sand at an alarming rate. Ashley is panicked when Red Wolf shows up and together they dress his wounds and start out for Jake’s house. Jake and Shane are like brothers because Jake was the other survivor from the wagon train. Shane heals physically, but emotionally he is still conflicted about Ashley. She thinks Shane doesn’t care but Shane knows he can’t mix Ashley up with the mess that is his life. Just when Shane decides that at the very least Ashley deserves an explanation, the sheriff arrives at Jake’s with his enemy, Clem, and an arrest warrant. He’s wanted for rape and murder. Ashley can’t believe the sheriff has the right man and Shane is ashamed to tell her, but he is indeed the man on the poster. After they leave, with Jake trailing behind, Jake’s wife, Faith, tells Ashley everything. Shane was falsely accused of those crimes because of a lying, deceitful female, who wanted more from Shane than he could give, and now Jake and Shane would have to prove it. After Faith finishes, Ashley has something she needs to say. She is pregnant…….with Shane’s child! Faith is ecstatic and tells Ashley that Shane needs to know. She feels that he will move heaven and earth to be with her and his unborn child. Ashley isn’t sure Shane will be happy about the news but at Faith’s insistence, they travel into town to tell him the news. He’s not only happy but is raring for a fight to prove his innocence. Faith and Ashley go home while Shane, Jake, and the sheriff leave to meet Shane’s fate in the opposite direction. Jake contacts Shane’s grandfather and he sends a Pinkerton man, Patrick Murphy to find the truth. Murphy is quite adept at his job and gets the evidence he needs for Shane’s acquittal. Shane asks Murphy to acquire the death certificate for Ashley’s deceased husband. He wants to make sure their wedding is legal. During the celebration, after the acquittal and a lot of whiskey, Patrick Murphy approaches Shane with some sobering news. There was no death certificate and everything Ashley told him about her dead husband was a lie. His ears are ringing …… deceit while his heart is breaking! Without an explanation, Shane takes off for the hills, determined that he will never let another woman in his life. She is either not pregnant or it’s not his. That thought kicks him in the gut. Either way he is determined that she would not make a fool of him anymore. While he’s drinking his way across the Black Hills, Jake goes home and demands answers from Ashley, which she gives to his satisfaction. She was not deceitful and she loves Shane …. that white lie had certainly come back to haunt her. Now all Jake has to do is find Shane to convince him, before he gets lost in whiskey, women, and hate. It might be too late. As Jake looks for Shane, his old enemy, Clem, sour from the outcome of the trial, kidnaps Ashley, leaving a note stating that if Shane doesn’t show up at the full moon, he will slit her throat. Faith is hysterical. Jake’s gone and if he doesn’t show up in time with Shane, this loathsome creature will kill Ashley. Shane comes to his senses about Ashley, and starts back home when he runs into Jake. They make it home and Faith reveals the horrible truth about what has happened. Because of Jake and Shane’s incredible Cheyenne stealth and cunning, they outwit Clem and his cohorts, rescue Ashley and Clem is killed in the process. Before Clem dies, he tells Shane that he was behind the rape and murders that Shane was accused of. His deep seeded hatred is due to the death of Clem’s brother at Shane’s hand in a gunfight (story told in prologue).
Shane visits his grandfather and returns with a fabulous black stallion. Ashley is amazed when Shane asks her if the stallion would make a suitable wedding present. Her answer is yes! They live happily ever after with their son.
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