In the fall of 1895, a young Irish girl, Anabelle Brown, unhappy at home, leaves Ireland for the States to join her brother Joe. After arriving in New York, she is left stranded. Frantic, she hesitatingly takes a nanny job with an immigrant Italian family, but after a sexual assault from the husband, she decides to leave for Cripple Creek, where her brother is supposed to be seeking his fortune in the new gold camp. She trains to the Colorado boom gold town, anxious but determined to make her way with or without her brother. She finds Cripple Creek to be a daunting place for a young, eighteen-year-old girl. She has little money and there are several Joe Brownes, none of them her brother. An Irish bartender, Nolan, and his sister, Maggie, take her in hand by giving her a job as a dime dancer in a saloon hall. This grueling and unwholesome job becomes the door for Anabelle to enter into a new life in America. She meets a young Irishman named Jimmie Demaree at the dance hall, allows him to escort her home, a short journey which was to change her life. On the way, they stop off at a famous men´s club in the town, the Old Homestead, also a high class brothel, where Anabelle meets the most famous Madam in town, Pearl Van del Lear. She likes the young Irish girl and offers her a job as her assistant. Hesitatingly deciding to take the position plunges Anabelle into the very center of life in the exploding gold camp. In the next months, she meets the men who are making big gold strikes and using their wealth to make over Cripple Creek to their advantage. Anabelle sees the lust and lure of a major gold camp. She watches the winners exploit their advantages; she sees first hand the violence that gold fever provokes, and she learns how to survive in a place where women are men´s chattels. She connects with the upstanding men among the rabble. Besides Jimmie, she comes to know the richest man in the camp, Scott Winfield, who wants to build Cripple Creek into a fine city and make life better for all its inhabitants. He is as cunning in dealing with the avaricious gold seekers and the riffraff that drift into such places as he is in managing his gold claims. Amid the violence, personal tragedies, and luridness of the gold camp culture, she releases her Irish sexual frigidity, falls in love with Jimmie, only to lose him, but thanks to Winfield is rescued. Winfield and her friends, in an effort to bring back her zest for life, make her their city´s parade queen in the Fourth of July parade, celebrating the rebirth of Cripple Creek after its disastrous city fire. But what really saves her is a secret consolation.