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Hangtown is an historical novel set in the 1851 California gold rush mining camp of Hangtown, later Placerville. It tells the story of Zach Johnson, a young innocent man in his 20s, who has come west from Virginia seeking his fortune in gold, who loses his innocence in the lawless mining camp but grows strong in character. He is different at the end of the story than he was at its start. Hangtown is also a love story. Claire McCarthy is the woman who captures Zach's heart. Claire is a feisty, independent woman from Boston who rebels against the social norm of the day of being obedient to men. Zach comes from a family of clergy while Claire, in order to pay off her debt to the man who paid for her passage west, worked as a prostitute. Zach has a hard time accepting Claire because of this. Hangtown combines history, deceit, and intrigue to create a gripping adventure and love story.