In 1873 in Fredonia, New York Widow Claire Ashier has had it with the Pemberton Saloon across the street from her boarding house. The noise spilling into the street has driven out her last patron and Claire needs her lodging to thrive in order to survive. She informs saloon owner Boyd Grayson that he needs to shut down or else. Though attracted to the courageous woman, Boyd tells her no he cannot afford the loss of business on a Saturday night.
The Sheriff is on Boyd's side of the dispute though he insists that his being the saloon owner's brother has nothing to do with his decisions, but asks the two of them to peacefully work out their differences. She persuades him to escort her to church where she hopes he understands the nastiness of liquor when he hears the sermon. As Boyd and Claire begin seeing each other encouraged by his traitorous canine's visits to her, they fall in love; however she has vowed that "lips that touch mine will never have touched liquor" having suffered from the alcoholic abuses of her first husband.
The third Grayson Post Civil War historical romance (see THE LONGING and SHADE OF HONOR) is an absorbing late nineteenth century tale due to the contrast between the personalities of the lead couple. Much of that difference was caused by Claire being a spousal abuse victim with no avenues to turn to except the church whereas Boyd, besides being a big man, knows his loving family especially brothers are there for him.. Wendy Lindstrom provides a strong tale driven by the protagonists who seem so opposite yet so in love.