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In the 1820s, Kentuckian Carrie Fletcher migrates with her brother and his family to central Illinois where she intends to continue to grow medicinal herbs and be a healer. Carrie loves being the spinster aunt to her nieces and nephews, taking care of her herbs, making calls on sick pioneers, and farming with her brother. But, shunning marriage and motherhood and donning her unique style of “mannish” dress for farm work rouse some who question her womanhood.
When they arrive, the unending labor of cabin-building and clearing the prairie grasses for crops require they trade assistance with other pioneers. One of the first neighbors to call on them is Emma Reynolds, another herbalist, healer, and midwife. She and Carrie share herbs, seeds, and healing knowledge. Shortly after, Emma’s father, her sole relation, dies from lung fever, leaving a gap in her life that Carrie’s friendship fills.
Together the two pioneer women deal with the harsh realities of pioneering. One man calls their healing potions evil and harasses them violently. The two strengthen their bonds and develop deeper feelings as they fight for their lives and the lives of the neighbors they care for.
Can their newfound love endure the hardscrabble life of never-ending toil, sickness, injury, hunger, and death on the prairie?