When Thomas Fox Averill first heard Jimmy Driftwood's ballad "Tennessee Stud," he found the song hauntingly compelling. As he began to imagine the story behind the lyrics, he set out to research the song's history-a tale from "along about eighteen and twenty-five"" of the legendary exploits of the greatest horse that ever lived, the "Tennessee Stud," and his owner.
Traveling the same route the song chronicles, from Tennessee into Arkansas, through Texas and into Mexico, Averill visited racetracks, Spanish missions, historical museums, a living history farm, and national parks, inventing characters of his own along the way. His novel captures the spirit of the ballad while telling the story of Robert Johnson, a man who holds love in his heart though adventure rules his time. Pursued by a bounty hunter, Indians, and his conscience, Johnson and his horse are tested, strengthened, and made resolute.