Ten years ago Joe Lakota had left behind his small Oregon town and the only woman he'd ever truly loved for the empty promises of the big city. Now he's returned, seeking to raise his young son with values you can only find at home, and longing to rekindle the passion he'd once had with beautiful Marilee Nelson. But Marilee isn't anything like the gentle yet self-assured girl he'd left behind. In her place is a woman tormented by a secret she refuses to share, even with Joe. Marilee never wanted to see Joe again; their parting had been too painful. And though his strong arms and powerful body could protect her, she knew only too well the harm they could also bring. Her head tells her to resist Joe's persistent advances, her heart is telling her something very different. And then he makes her the sweetest proposition of all: become his wife and mother of his child. But how can she agree to a marriage, even in name only, when she can't stand to tell him the truth?