In 1801 Aleyska, White Raven has lived his life torn between two worlds: his mother's people, the Tlingit of Alaska's Yakutat Bay and his father's, the Russian fur hunters ruthlessly dispatching sea otter and Tlingit alike in pursuit of the pelts known as "soft gold." So when he discovers a red-haired slave girl doomed to die at a potlatch, he suspects she is Russian and arranges to have her given to him as a gift. Now, what will he do with the fiery woman in his care?
Cara Tarakanov escaped her brutal father, Russian fur hunter Alex Tarakanov, in a desperate plunge from his ship in the middle of a storm. After months of captivity, she now finds herself captive again. Only this Tlingit master mysteriously speaks perfect Russian and makes it plain he plans to return her to her people at Fort St. Michael. But first he must take her with him to his village where he is to be married in a loveless union that will unite two powerful Tlingit clans.
As the snowy months pass, Cara and White Raven fall into a deep, forbidden while Cara finds the family she never had with White Raven's mother, Marisha – a savvy, sharp-tongued medicine woman who takes Cara to be the daughter she never had and teaches her how to survive in brutal Aleyska. The deeper Cara becomes entwined with White Raven's people, the more devastating the secret the bears, a secret that could destroy the fragile peace of southeast Alaska.