Scion of Gethsemane
Imagine a visually stunning, discerning young woman with golden hair, azure-blue eyes, and a near-perfect figure. Her fiancé is a tall, blond-headed hunk of masculine magic who not only makes six figures a year, but also exudes a class, style, and charisma most men lack and certainly all envy. So if Paige has all of this and so much more, then why is she so unhappy?
The answer is that although Chris loves her, Paige isn’t what he holds most dear; his career has always been first in his life. Paige’s biggest fear is to marry him, and then wind up spending the rest of her days wishing she hadn’t.
A chance encounter allows her to meet Dennis Dru, an average-looking, minimum-wage worker who is also a paraplegic. Paige is happy to discover that Dennis is one of the kindest, sincerest men she has ever met. Most of all, he seems to admire her for who she is as a person, rather than for how attractive she looks.
As their relationship grows, Paige is introduced to Dennis’s sister and finds out that there’s more to Jasmine than just a brooding, disillusioned recluse. Jasmine proves to be an enlightened intellectual who’s also an extremely gifted painter. Paige is instrumental in boosting Jasmine’s self-esteem, and persuades her to pursue a career in fine art, much to the chagrin of brother Brent.
Brent Dru is an extremely volatile and dangerous young man. He physically abuses Jasmine, a fact which creates a self-described Gethsemane for her in their family’s rundown, west Philadelphia row house. Brent personifies an evil that foreshadows the threat he presents not only to Jasmine, but also to Dennis, their mother, and now to Paige.
Brent finds a worthy adversary in Paige; it aggravates him to deal with someone who’s willing to fight back. Still, the situation is sad, because Paige starts to see that any resolution to her problems with Brent may also mark an end to the otherwise glorious relationship she’s found with Dennis. Despite Brent’s many shortcomings, Dennis still loves his brother dearly.
Jasmine’s own past involves a degree of turmoil, enough to inspire Paige to rethink their growing friendship. A disturbing similarity between Brent’s sadism and Jasmine’s own iniquities surfaces, hurling Paige into the middle of the family’s struggles and angst, which ultimately leads to the story’s heady, and most unexpected, conclusion.
Thunderhead: Tales of Love, Honor, and Vengeance in the Historic American West, Books One, Two, and Three
The Thunderhead Trilogy spans a ten-month period in the lives of three primary characters: Al Franklin, a photograph artist, "Spittoon” Nicky, a sporting girl, and Harvey M. McCafferty, a bounty hunter. Chapters alternate between each of these three characters’ perspectives, thus allowing one book’s worth of text to be dedicated to each of them.
Al Franklin is an enterprising and hard-working 20-year-old who has made his way from the comfort and security of his affluent parents’ home in Boston to Deadwood, South Dakota, during the summer of 1876. Al does masterful work as an ambrotype photographer, and therefore meets with all manner people, outlaws as well as the law-abiding, who are looking to have their likenesses taken. When Wild Bill Hickok comes to town at the same time as Calamity Jane and Colorado Charlie Utter, Al devises a money-making scheme with Bill to put his picture on cabinet cards to sell to the eager citizens in town. Because of Wild Bill’s reputation as a shootist, a law officer, and one of the stars of Buffalo Bill Cody’s show, the cabinet cards sell very well. And thus a friendship grows between Wild Bill and Al during Bill’s last days.
"Spittoon” Nicky is a sporting girl who plies her trade out of a rough-sawed saloon called Hootie’s Lager House. Nicky meets up with an outlaw named Chad DeMarco and they fall for one another. When things get too dangerous for him in Deadwood, Chad asks Nicky to travel with him and his cohorts so they can stay together. The most brutal and bloodthirsty of Chad’s companions is his sister Maggie DeMarco, who seems to live just to find the man who murdered her mother and father when she was very young.
Harvey McCafferty is an ex-Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter whose only aim in life is to get rich as quickly as possible. Harvey sets his sights on tracking down the DeMarco gang so that he can retire on the considerable bounty that has been placed on Maggie, Chad, Luke, Ray, and Otto. And in Harvey’s mind, dead or alive usually means dead.
The second book of the Thunderhead trilogy follows Al Franklin to Laramie, Wyoming, where he hopes to conspire with Colonel George May to see to it that Jack McCall finally pays for the cold-blooded assassination of Wild Bill Hickok. McCall has already been acquitted of any wrongdoing by a hastily-assembled miner’s court. But many of Wild Bill’s friends are under the distinct impression that the jurors have been paid off by Deadwood’s underground. Since the court was held on Sioux land, the ruling was considered invalid.
Harvey McCafferty furthers his quest of getting closer to collecting the bounty on the DeMarco gang by partnering with the shady Tim Brady, who has a habit of promising to tell folks how they can catch up with the gang if they just do him a few favors first. Harvey follows McCall to Laramie to make sure his mouth stays shut about the real reason why Wild Bill Hickok has been murdered.
"Spittoon” Nicky tries to get used to a life on the run with cold-blooded killers, but it isn’t easy. The hardest thing for her to witness is the power struggle between the gang’s leader, Maggie DeMarco, and another member, Bloody Ray the Knife. A cool and confident Ray Bradford oversteps one too many boundaries, and the confrontation he has with Maggie at book’s end can only have one conclusion: one of them has to die.
The third book of the Thunderhead trilogy finds Al Franklin back in Deadwood and settling into his routine of taking ambrotype photographs of the citizenry. Jack McCall has paid for killing Wild Bill Hickok with his own life. Al intends to profit from McCall’s ill-gotten notoriety by selling his photograph, which angers Wild Bill’s friends. Colorado Charlie and the others hope that the love of a good woman will make Al see the error of his ways and not go through with it.
The DeMarco gang finally tracks down the man responsible for killing Maggie and Chad’s parents fourteen years ago. This man, Wakefield, is taken along with his daughter and two of her children to their campsite, where Maggie will decide their fate. And Maggie is not in a very forgiving mood. "Spittoon” Nicky fears that no member of that family will make it back home alive.
Harvey McCafferty finally meets up with the DeMarcos in Deadwood and the bullets start flying. Will Harvey collect on all that bounty money, or will this overly ambitious task of his get the best of him?