Hot Shot is an adventure romance set in the old West. To evade assault by her father, Sam (Samantha) Spade flees, seeking refuge at her aunt May’s home, where she meets May’s new husband Seth Sullivan and his son Clay, not much older than Sam.
In a subplot, Sam’s childhood best friend Brian McCormick tries to visit Sam to break the news that his family is moving back East, but Sam is already gone. On the trail, the McCormicks are attacked by “Indians,” his father Kenneth killed, and Brian and his mother Bridget taken as prisoners.
Aunt May writes her sister Carlile, asking to keep Sam for a while and see to her care and upbringing. Sam asks Clay to teach her to shoot and she quickly develops prowess. He also teaches her to dance and squires her to the school dance.
One day when Sam and May are alone, three foul outlaws, the Daulton brothers, approach the house, apparently to bother May. Sam comes into the yard with her gun to stand up to the men. Guns are drawn and Sam wins the standoff. The men withdraw.
In the intervening period, Brian McCormick’s mother is now with child by her captor, and Brian escapes with the intention of returning to rescue his mother. He joins the Federal army and plans to rescue his mother as a US soldier.
Resting from a ride into the wilderness, Sam suffers a rattlesnake bite. A native man, Dakoday, approaches and treats her snakebite, then brings her home to May. Sam is inexplicably attracted to this “powerfully gentle man.”
After her recovery, Sam’s handgun prowess is called upon again when she and Clay walk into a bank robbery in progress by the Daulton Brothers. Clay is wounded and, while Sam is nursing him back to health, Clay proposes to her. Sam eventually agrees, but wedding plans are put on hold as May and Seth are en route to the Spade homestead to collect Sam’s mother, who was widowed when her husband was killed in a saloon fight.
When things return to normal, Sam and Brian meet by chance and Sam tells him of her impending marriage.
After returning from a roundup, Sam is bathing and is surprised by Billy Daulton (only wounded during the attempted bank robbery, he had crawled out during the confusion around the injured Clay). Billy is there to kill Sam, but she tricks him by promising sexual favors and kills him using one of May’s knitting needles.
Traumatized, Sam leaves the house and is counseled by the town doctor. Sam defers her wedding to Clay. Brian visits the Sullivans and meets his rival Clay.
Sam happens upon Dakodah. She learns of his kindness in caring for an elderly woman relative, and his kindred interest in medicine; they are attracted to each other and become lovers.
Sam returns home with Dakodah and announces to the family her intention to set out on a new life of love and healing.