In Second Lives, Spur Award-winning author Richard S. Wheeler turns his storytelling genius to that great Western crossroads Denver, Colorado, in its formative years during the raucous 1880s. To this place, during an era when the search for gold and silver makes millionaires overnight and unmakes them just as quickly, comes Lorenzo Carthage. His mining ventures are daring, and he stages balls and parties of dazzling sumptuousness even when his fortunes fail - which is more often than they succeed. Another arrival is Dixie Ball, a gentle, plainspoken amazon of a woman whose fortunes and failures - from mining queen of Telluride to chambermaid in a Denver hotel - are inextricably tied to the man she calls Magnificent Carthage. Others who gather in Denver include Homer Peabody, Esq., a good man but a failed lawyer eking out an existence in a shabby office. His doomed life takes on new meaning when he is visited by Cornelia Kimbrough, who regards herself as chattel enslaved by her marriage to the cold, powerful, unforgiving financier Walter Kimbrough. She, too, seeks a new life for herself, even if it means sacrificing her ambitions. Meanwhile, Yves Poulenc, a tubercular poet who comes to Colorado for its curative waters, dreams of Keats and dying nobly, but he finds his melancholy plans are thwarted by a woman who makes him understand the power of hope.