This romance is one all consuming, passionate story of the relationship between a Scottish born mountain man the Indians call "Waiting Cougar" who takes an unwilling "winter squaw"—bought with beaver pelts from the Blackfeet Indians who captured her in a raid. Innocent young Victorine Wellesley was raised in Philadelphia in the parlor rooms of elegant homes only to be forced to leave when her father died and her foolish brother took her west. Almost raped by the Blackfeet Indians who killed her brother and his wife, she is "rescued" by Cougar and forced to travel with him high into the Bitterroot Mountains to warm his bed of furs for the winter. She does not know one of Cougar’s Indian friends, a Medicine Man, predicted this was to be his woman. Cougar calls her Flame and tells her she is his “wife” but she knows better. She is not a real wife; she is only a "mountain mistress."
Victorine, who Cougar names "Flame," feels her identity slipping away as she begins to dress like a squaw, her beautiful fair skin turns brown from the sun and she falls victim to the passion he draws from her at his will. You will be inspired as her courage rises to every challenge and there are many in the wild mountains: bears, hostile Indians and evil trappers.
It is hard to believe this was Crenshaw's first novel as it competes well with anything out there today. Her writing is superb. Her story captivates—it’s a real page-turner. She presents accurately the essence of the era (19th century American frontier), even the nuances in speech. She has the place names, history and Indian culture (Blackfeet and Salish) just right. In fact, she has it ALL just right.