In 1911 young women don’t board a train headed for the US-Mexico border, searching for a missing husband. But despite doubts about her marriage, Rose Westmoreland is compelled to try. A talented amateur photographer, Rose is accompanied only by her camera.


Leonard, sent by his employer to El Paso, has first inexplicably gone native, and then disappeared, leaving behind a fiery rebel mistress and rumors of being a Standard Oil agent sent to finance the Mexican Revolution. The city is on pins and needles, anticipating the spectacle of a battle expected to break out within viewing distance at any moment.

Rose gets suspiciously little help from the authorities, but friendship and support from Luisa Villanueva and Martha Garlick, two women living on their own, and from war reporter Timothy Turner, who happens to need a photographer. Soon she is photographing General Pancho Villa and his imperious wife Luz Corral and experiencing the unfamiliar and porous culture of the borderlands.


When the only person with real information about Leonard is killed, Rose finds herself tangled in the intrigue of the Mexican Revolution, the deadly competition between international oil companies, and her own ambiguous feelings. She now must decide what chances she is willing to take to find her husband, and how she truly wants to live her life.