Born a girl during the U.S. Civil War, Jack has been passing as a boy in the slums of Five Points, Manhattan since running away from an orphans’ home at age eight. He makes his living at petty thievery, surviving pocket watch-to-pocket watch until he discovers a talent for gambling. But by nineteen, Jack’s ambitions are beginning to outgrow his frayed clothes. He spends his days dreaming of striking it rich and finding his childhood sweetheart, Lucy, who left with her mother for the West four years ago. When the opportunity to steal a diamond necklace for a wealthy client comes his way he takes it. But finishing the job may require much more than he bargained for—especially since the diamonds are in the hands of Lucy’s rapacious stepfather, in a rowdy mining town in the Arizona Territory.
The daughter of an Arizona rancher, Eden Smith has been sent to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to get an education. But Eden has spent her childhood dressing as and working with the boys and young men on her father’s ranch. Life in a women’s college in 1900 presents challenges to a girl who thinks of herself as something of a boy and despises wearing skirts. Love makes it all bearable for a time, until a passion for painting takes Eden to Paris. There she almost grasps freedoms she never knew possible, only to have her most sacred commitments threatened by a world yet unready for her genius.