Widowed Elinor Randall and her young daughter Jerrine arrive in a barren stretch of Wyoming in 1910 after Elinor’s application for work as a housekeeper is accepted by Clyde Stewart, a rancher. The work is back-breaking and the isolation is brutal, particularly as winter arrives. Elinor begins to think about homesteading her own property near Stewart’s ranch, but Stewart tries to dissuade her with explanations about the killing conditions and poor rewards, especially for a woman with no man to help her ranch. Although their temperaments are different and little affection exists, Elinor and Stewart agree to marry and combine homesteads. What lies ahead is the severest test of all.