When Jacob Simmons arrives in Washington Territory in the summer of 1882 and receives a glacial reception from his uncle Silas, he appreciates Dr. Brown's encouraging prediction but doesn't have much faith in it. Jacob's not even sure Silas will have time to get used to his presence, let alone consider him welcome. If the young man can't meet the draconian requirements of a contract with his business investors, he'll face exile and financial ruin, thus fulfilling old Silas' prediction that he would be just as dismal a failure as his father. His whole future rests on finding a market for a remarkable new machine —and he'll need help selling them.
Addie Kellam is an incredibly lonely young woman. She's more comfortable with books than with other people, yet she longs for the sort of romance she reads about in stories. It's something she fears she'll never experience herself, since even friendship seems elusive. She envies the cameraderie her brother finds in his cycling club, but the only bicycles in the town of Chetzemoka are specifically designed for men. There aren't any wheels for women anywhere —are there?