When their grandfather died, Mrs. Conover, Kitty, Yale and Gabe decided to leave their grandfathers home when Junior Conover insulted his sister-in-law and three children. They decided to go to the Dakota Badlands to search for their father Clay. Along the way, the mother of the three children died; the children decided to continue to Dakota.
During their travels, they met an old man, Aaron Smiler. He took them in and they lived there for years. Yale, the middle child, was a rebel and uninterested in being told what to do. However, he went to Cara McKinnons father and asked for her hand in marriage. Caras parents were both horrified by the idea and told him never to darken their door again.
So, at 16 years, Yale left the Smiler ranch and returned to his quest for his father. Along the way, he learned to gamble and became good at it. He would occasionally return to Misery, Dakota Territory, to visit Gabe, Kitty and Aaron Smiler. However, he had a strong sense of restlessness; he soon left to follow his dream of freedom.
Through a quirk of fate, he joined the Fenner gang. Before long, they left mere robberies and killed innocents during hold-ups. Yale travelled with them but did not participate in their thieving; he followed the lure of the cards.
The Fenner gang became so lawless that the US Army was hunting for these killers. They decided to go to a ranch, hide there, steal the cattle at the ranch, molest the woman and kill them all. Yale took a night guarding shift so he could race to the widow and help her escape.
Then, he would go in the opposite direction to escape Fenners wrath. Things didnt go as hed planned; the woman they were planning to kill was his first love, Cara. He knew he wouldn't leave her to travel on her own. Cara is Mrs. Evans now a widow with two small boys, Cody and Seth.
Along the way, Cara and Yale realized they still loved each other. Yale grew to love her two boys. Eventually, Yale was seriously injured by one of Fenners men. Since Fenners gang had burned down her house, Cara had nothing to return to and she asked Yale to take her back to Misery.
Gabe, Kitty and Aaron are excited to see Yale but were startled to see him with a woman and two children. Gabe has married Billie (a cook at the Red Dog Saloon). While Yale is involved in a very important game (at the Red Dog), Fenner and his gang arrive.
This story is action-packed and wonderful. The characters are well fleshed-out and there are no dull parts in this book. It is a great story for some good old-fashioned escape reading.
1. Badlands Law (2002)
2. Badlands Legend (2002)
3. Badlands Heart (2002)