It’s Christmas in July! A ghostly Regency mystery romance novella

My little Christmas novella, The Right to Remain Single, is now available at — just in time for a taste of Christmas in July! It’s related to my Scandalous Kisses series about the badly-behaved Warren cousins. So if you didn’t get it last year when it was in the anthology Christmas Kisses, now’s your chance. Only 99 cents…

The Right to Remain Single W

Faced with the ghastly suitors her father approves, Thomasina Warren decides to lose her virginity so that no respectable man will have her. Who better to ruin her than handsome, charming James Blakely? But James is an honorable man and refuses point-blank. Humiliated, she resorts to outright refusal to wed, with the help of a ghost who scares her suitors away. But four years later, her father has arranged her marriage to a stodgy gentlemen whose only condition is that the ghost must be banished forever.

James Blakely never forgot the lovely girl who asked him to ruin her, and when he offers to get rid of the ghost, he thinks he’ll be doing a good deed. Instead, he is faced with the hostile Thomasina, her cowardly suitor, pigheaded father, lecherous cousin, an exorcist monk, and a ghost who warns of danger and deadly peril—and a few short days in which to convince Thomasina that with the right man, she might just want to marry after all.

Here’s an excerpt:

James opened his bedchamber door upon an appalling sight.

A lady, standing next to his writing desk clad only in her nightdress, turned to him with a dazzling smile. “Mr. Blakely, how romantic.” She indicated the pile of papers he’d been working on that afternoon. “I didn’t know you wrote poetry!”

“I don’t,” he said, unable to stop himself from looking her up and down. She was so damned pretty—there was no denying he found her attractive—but good God, what if someone heard them? He shut the door softly and glared at her. “What the deuce are you doing here, Miss Warren?”

Thomasina Warren’s flush showed clearly in the light of a branch of candles. “I came to ask a favor of you.”

The ghost, who had removed his plumed hat in the presence of a lady, beamed and nodded at James.

“At midnight?” James snapped. “In my bedchamber?”

She blushed even more—and what a beautiful sight she was. “What better time and place?”

The ghost grinned widely. He mentioned midnight and bedchambers far too often in his execrable poems.

“For what?” James demanded, trying not to notice how enchantingly her chestnut hair tumbled about her shoulders.

“For…for love.” Her gaze flickered to the scattered sheets of bad verse. “Who is she, your inamorata?”

“My—my what?” He shook his head. “She’s not real,” and then, at a sudden gust of frigid air on his spine, “not alive, anyway. She’s the lady love of our resident ghost.”

“Ah, the dashing Cavalier I’ve heard about. That explains the slightly archaic feeling of the poems.” She took a deep breath. Her bosom rose and fell. “In that case, what I’m about to ask is acceptable.”

Nothing was acceptable about this situation. “Miss Warren, I do not wish to be discourteous, but this is most improper, and you must leave at once. Ask your favor of me tomorrow, in daylight, in a less compromising location.”

She didn’t move. “Tomorrow will be too late.”

“A pity, but nevertheless you may not remain here.” He returned to the door, motioning with his chin, hoping to get rid of her without actually touching her. “Back to your own bedchamber. Now.”

Thomasina faltered a little, but instead of obeying, she approached, looking up at him with wide, grey eyes. Meanwhile, he struggled not to lower his gaze to her bosom, which jiggled as she moved. The ghost watched them, highly amused.

“Please don’t be upset, Mr. Blakely. It’s just a simple favor. I’m sure it can’t be difficult, as it’s done all the time.”

He gritted his teeth. “What is done all the time?”

“Carnal knowledge,” she said calmly. “Tupping, as my cousin Colin would put it.” His face must have shown his feelings, for she flapped a dismissive hand. “Yes, I know it’s improper of him to say such things in my presence, but you know what my family is like.”

Damn Colin Warren. He should know better—which hardly mattered right now. Hades, she couldn’t be serious!

“The Warrens are scandalous by nature and have been for centuries. Everyone knows that, so it’s practically expected of me to keep up the family tradition.” She hesitated, tipping her head to one side, as if assessing his growing dismay. “It’s quite simple, really. All I want is for you to ruin me.”

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Posted in fantasy/paranormal, Historical, Romance | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

No More Sunset Envy, at Least for Now!

sunset 1_resized

I often envy those folks who photograph glorious sunsets and sunrises. Since my house is surrounded by tall trees the sun dips below the tree line before the colors become vivid. The sunrises are pretty much the same.

During our drive from La Grange, Georgia to Denver, Colorado, by way of Mississippi and Texas,  Melba Moon, Nanci Race, and I  took back roads on our way to find I -20. One wrong turn led to an old road and the sunset that stopped us in our tracks. We weren’t far into Mississippi when we caught a glimpse of heaven! These images aren’t in order, but who cares? And I have more, since I was caught up in this wonderful sight.

Sunset 2

Sunset 3_resizedSunset 4

Have a glorious week!

We are at the RWA National Conference now! More reports later!


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Volunteering Ideas- An 8 Part Summer Series (Part Two)

Did you know that one of the main benefits of volunteering is to make YOU happier?
This summer, for the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting some ways you can volunteer in your community.

Week Two:
Set aside a weekend and organize a charity yard sale this summer. Ask your neighbors to donate electronics, clothes, furniture, etc., that they’re no longer using. Donate all the proceeds to your favorite local charity.

What other things from your household are you no longer using and can add to a yard sale?
Please leave your comments below:

It’s a Christmas in July promotion!

Travel with me to an upstate NY town and experience A Snowy White Christmas.

Can she resist the handsome, charismatic Prince Charming a second time?

Margaret Snow doesn’t believe in fairy tales, but as a devoted mother she’s determined to give her five-year-old daughter a Christmas filled with heart-warming memories. The once successful swimsuit model in glamorous LA returns to her small, snowy upstate New York town to buy back the foreclosed trailer she once called home. Her menagerie of rescue animals travel with her, including a deaf parrot and a kitten with one eye.

She doesn’t expect to see her former high school sweetheart, the athletic, ever-popular, and decisive Fernando Brandt, nor his dwarf twin brother.

Sparks fly when she realizes that the teenage hockey star is now a successful Realtor who is also interested in her dilapidated trailer for reasons of his own.

Can she surrender her insecurities and accept the true gift of Christmas, finally feeling worthy of unconditional love?

A Snowy White Christmas is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook. Snag your copy today!

Free on KU!

Posted in children and family, Contemporary, Romance | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Soup…It’s What’s for Lunch!

“Mmmm, mmmm. Good!”

That’s the first line of the Campbell’s Soup jingle…and it as the truth.  While those plump, apple-cheeked pair calling themselves the Campbell’s Kids danced across the screen, I’d be slurping down my tomato soup and eating my peanut butter and honey sandwich.

“Mmmm, mmmm, Good!”

My favorite might have been tomato soup but other soups held different memories.  Take chicken and rice, for example.  Whenever I came back from the dentist with a new filling, I was always served Campbell’s Chicken and Rice soup.  Why?  Because my dentist recommended it.  “Give her something soft to eat tonight,” he’d always say.  “Like chicken and rice soup.”  So…when suppertime came, my mother would reach into the pantry and bring out that familiar red and white can…  My father had a different memory of chicken and rice.  That was what his mother always served when he or one of his siblings (of which there were five) were ill.  Sore throats always demanded chicken and rice soup!

“That’s what Campbell’s Soups are…”

Once there was just vegetable soup and then there was alphabet soup.  Now, there isn’t a difference.  Alphabet soup always has alphabet pasta in it.  Not being a beef-eater, I go for the vegetarian kind because apparently you can’t get vegetable soup with any meat in it except beef.

“Mmmm, mmmm, Good!”

In either the 70’s or 80’s, there was some concern about the appearance of the Campbell’s Kids.  Wanting to bolster a more healthy appearance for their young consumers, the two were afterward portrayed as slimmer and trimmer.

Food (and not simply soup) plays a part in most of my novels.  A great deal of drama occurs around the dining tables in my stories.  Some important decisions are made over those many cups of coffee, such as in this little scene from The Man from Tipperary, one of the novels in The McCoys series:


Padraig McCoy is the family Bad Boy. With money or threats, his father has always gotten him out of scrapes but at last Padraig adds the last straw to the overloaded camel’s back. He finds himself a remittance man, paid by his father to leave home and never come back.

Still in shock, the raspcallion finds himself on a boat to America where he comes to rest on the Great Plains of Nebraska.  Knowing nothing about cows doesn’t stop Padraig from hiring on as a ranch hand, however, and it’s in the company of a bunch of cowboys that the young miscreant begins to change his ways. Fate has quite a bit in store for the young Irishman from Tipperary, from trail drives to dance hall girls to a certain young woman who steps off a Wells Fargo stage and wins his heart.


The Sylvestre House advertised it had a ‘genuine French cook’, giving it definite competition to the diner. There were eight tables in the room, all covered with white cloths which looked, if not genuine linen, at least a very high-grade and thick weave of cotton. All were occupied by diners appearing to enjoy their meals. The walls were papered instead of painted and there were several paintings, stilllifes strategically placed, with tables holding large double globed lamps giving considerable illumination. Someone had put a great deal of work into the Sylvestre House, making it into a very nice restaurant. Perhaps it wasn’t as fancy as some she’d seen in New York, but it was good enough to look out of place in a little Nebraska town.

“Aye, but McCoy’s Crossin’s not always going to be a small Nebraska town,” McCoy said, as if he’d read her thoughts.

“How did you…”

“’Tis what visitors always say, first off,” he explained. “They believe we’re at a standstill when actually we’re as progressive as Lincoln or Omaha…maybe even more so because McCoy’s Crossin’s got meself behind it.”

“You certainly think a great deal of yourself, don’t you?”

“That’s because I’m full o’ ideas an’ burstin’ t’ put them into action,” he replied. He studied the menu, giving her time to look at hers also. “I recommend th’ eggs and braised beef tips with julienne potatoes.”

That startled her. She’d expected he’d ask for baked beans and salt pork and a mug of beer. She studied him as the waiter took their orders, accepted back their menus and walked away.

Tall, red-haired, and Irish…definitely handsome, and a stylish dresser…a little older than she, perhaps by ten years, but what did that matter? Maria had been prepared to set her cap for someone she considered actually elderly, a man in his fifties or more, if necessary, and endure his attentions in exchange for status, but… This Mr. McCoy was definitely well-off, if he had a town named after him. That was better than she expected, to find a man good-looking, fairly young, as well as rich, and not have to travel across the entire country to do so.

She tried to be cold in her appraisal, ignoring the little tingles of delight she felt every time he glanced at her. Why am I trying to fool myself? I like him. Possibly I could love him.

Unaware of her scrutiny, Padraig raised his cup, sipping the coffee it contained. He set down the cup, “Now then, what would you like t’ know?”

“About what?” She looked puzzled.

“About me, o’ course. It appears t’ me you’re not th’ type o’ lass t’ go off with a stranger, so I’m for makin’ certain I’m no longer that, an’ th’ way t’ do it is for me t’ tell you about meself.”

“I already know about you,” she said.

“Oh? An’ exactly what do you know?’

They were flirting, Padraig realized with a shock. Something he hadn’t done in a decade. Saloon girls didn’t require any, so he was surprised he hadn’t forgotten how. This time, however, it wasn’t a mere dalliance he had in mind but something much more serious…and permanent. That shook him even more.

“You’re Padraig McCoy,” she answered, looking down at her hands as if stricken shy. “You’re obviously an Irishman, so I might wonder how you got here. You’re also a gentleman and, by your own admission, well-liked by this town.”

“Well then, t’ answer that question you didn’t ask, I came here almost a decade ago, tryin’ t’ find me way out o’ being a scamp an’ a scoundrel…”

“Did you succeed?”

“I believe I have.” He said it in such a way he sounded surprised to discover the fact. “I started out as a cowhand for th’ Circle-J, which was th’ largest ranch in these parts, still is for that matter. Then me boss was killed on a cattle drive.” Here Padraig paused and took a deep breath. “An’ I bought th’ ranch. ’Tis now th’ Shamrock. I suppose I’m well-liked by most o’ th’ people around here. I’ve certainly tried t’ ingratiate meself an’ I truly love this town.” He paused. “Let’s see…what else should I say? I’m thirty-one years old, still got all me hair an’ me teeth, an’ haven’t been sick since th’ influenza epidemic of ’54.”

“An’ you’re a terrible flirt,” Maria added.

“Oh nay,” he disagreed. He realized he was rapidly recovering all the qualities he’d once used on women and thought he’d forgotten. Gaillich words spoken in amorous conversation came back to him, lurking and preparing to be launched into this one. His speech patterns were also becoming more like the licentious lad he’s been. “I’m a great flirt.”

“What does your wife think of that, Mr. McCoy?” Maria decided she’d better find out his marital status before she went any further. No need to waste attention on him if he was already taken. She had no desire to become a mistress no matter how tempting the man. “Does she approve of your whisking young women off stagecoaches and taking them to breakfast?”

“I’ve no idea.” Padraig met her eyes in a direct stare shaking her in its intensity. “You haven’t married me yet.”

The Man from Tipperary, as well as the other novels in the series, is available in paperback from Class Act Books: and in Kindle from Amazon:




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Between the Shadows by Casi McLean – Cover Reveal!

Hear ye! Hear ye! You’re one of the first to see this amazing cover of Between the Shadows.



She never expected to confront deadly villains…let alone fall in love with one…

After her friend, York, encounters the ghostly image of a young woman, Mackenzie Reynolds seizes the opportunity to initiate a time jump, thrusting them back to 1865 Georgia. Resolved to thwart the girl’s untimely fate, Kenzi stumbles into a deadly conflict over a stockpile of stolen Confederate gold.


An injured Civil War survivor, James Adams departs for home with a war-fatigued companion he’s determined to help. After pilfering a horse and kidnapping a woman, he never dreamed his hostage would steal his heart.


Kenzi and James must unravel a deadly plot, while helping York save his ghost woman from a brutal death. But can she leave York in a violent past to save James’s life?


A Gripping Novel By Award-Winning Author Casi McLean.


“Don’t you dare die on me, James Adams.”

Kenzi pressed the blood-soaked gauze against the left side of his abdomen. “I won’t lose you. Not now.”

Barely clinging to life, he opened his eyes a slit, raised his hand still clenching Colin’s gun, and shot two rounds.

Stunned, Kenzi snapped around. “No.” She screamed and dove for the gun through the hazy blue mist engulfing them.

“Brady…” His voice faded as he slipped into semiconscious mumbling.

Yanking the pistol from his grip with her right hand, she maintained pressure with her left. A heartbeat later, the cylinder encasing them rotated open. Kenzi stood then sprinted across the room and pounded on a fist-sized alert button affixed to the wall. The resulting alarm shrieked through the underground chamber, reverberating as it radiated throughout the compound. Two men dressed in white jumpsuits burst through double doors.

“Gurney. Now.” Kenzi screamed at the attendants. “And O-Neg blood. Hurry. Go, go, go.” She ran to James and knelt beside him. Lifting his head, she slid a knee underneath it for support and smoothed a chunk of his dark brown hair from his face. “I’ve sacrificed way too much to have you die now,” she whispered. “My ass will burn for this. Not to mention the repercussions for abandoning York.”

Pulse racing, she checked his bandage. Despite her efforts, streams of crimson still oozed from the wound. Pressing again on the gauze, she shook her head. “Geez. You’ve lost so much blood. Please, hang on.”

Again, the double doors swung wide. This time, a gurney pushed through, followed by the two assistants. One man ran to Kenzi.

“Help me lift him.” Her hands, slick with blood, shot to her white T-top, already drenched in crimson. On second thought, she swept them down the rear of her jeans. Sliding her slippery arms beneath his back, she braced her stance with one bent knee.

“One, two, three.” They heaved him in tandem onto the gurney. She doused her hands with Betadine then splashed more on James’s forearm, snatched an IV from the attached supply basket, and punctured a vein on the inside of his wrist with the sterile needle. Once connected, she hooked the blood pouch on the IV pole and barked at the team, “Let’s move. If this man bleeds out, there will be hell to pay.”

The men, poised with hands on the side of the rails, awaited their next move. “Where to, Dr. Reynolds?”

Kenzi stared at James’s ashen face, worried her meager experience wasn’t enough to save his life––but she had no option. “Surgery.”

Springing into action, one man rolled the gurney down the hallway, while a second leapt onto the base and slipped an oxygen mask over James’s nose and mouth. “I hope this guy isn’t allergic to Propofol.” He attached an anesthesia drip to the IV. “Damn, what caused this gaping wound?”

“He was shot…with a musket.”  


Award Winning Author

2016 Best Romantic Suspense  Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence 

Winner 2016 Best Heroine Still Moments Magazine

2016 Aspen Gold Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense

2015 Top Pick by Night Owl Reviews

2015 Chicago Fire and Ice Finalist

2014 Winner 2014 AWC Short Story Award


  Lake Lanier Mysteries

     Beneath The Lake

     Beyond The Mist

     Between The Shadows 

   Destiny Series:


     The Gift

     After Midnight


     The Pegasus Chronicle

   Deep State Mysteries

       Reign Of Fire

       The List


Wingless Butterfly

So You Want To Be An Author 

Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads Amazon Author Page Blog Pinterest Instagram

Access a free story, Destiny, here:


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Protective Instincts Is Back on Amazon!


erotic relations

Feast your eyes!

Good Tuesday!

July is racing by! I have been busy beyond belief! I know everyone else is busy, too. I’m not complaining, just explaining.  Life is full of changes, some easy and some not so easy.

During the last 30 days I took 2 books from my publishers and republished them.

Protective Instincts has a NEW COVER! It also has the original scenes I didn’t want to delete and some of my voice back! My editor had some strange preferences that didn’t match the way I write at all! I was so exited to have someone want to publish my book I went along, gritting my teeth the entire time. He also labeled this book as Erotic Romance. I consider it Romantic Suspense. One reviewer said it was more Romantic Thriller. I like that!


Three years after her husband’s murder teacher Brit Roberts has a new job in a small high school in a small, peaceful town in Georgia. She is getting her life in order, but that is about to change.
Sam Samuels has the gift or curse of premonitions. They are warning him now that his son’s language arts teacher is in danger. How can he tell a woman who barely speaks to him that she is in danger and he must protect her .
Douglas Drake has a new assignment, to kill Brit Roberts, wife of Tommy Roberts, the noisy lawyer he killed three years ago. Having the interfering man hanging around her won’t help, but he never fails to finish an assignment. He actually enjoys the planning and execution of each kill.


One thing about self-publishing is that I can follow my heart and my own preferences instead of making changes I don’t like, and I can choose my own covers!


Half asleep, Brit reached for the ringing phone. She was disoriented from a dream that had left her breathless. She’d seen Tommy’s body fly over the hood of the truck that hit him. She’d heard herself scream. Then she’d seen a masked man staring at her, his look menacing. When he’d started toward her she’d turned and run ‘til she couldn’t catch her breath.

Now cloying, oppressive, the fragrance of the garden sized arrangement in her dining room had permeated her bedroom. She glanced bleary-eyed at the luminous clock. Two o’clock? Who’d call at this hour but family with an emergency? She snatched up the receiver.

She cleared her throat and gathered her wits about her. “Hello.”

“Havin’ a real nice nite, Sugar?” The voice was raspy, deep, and very southern. It made her skin crawl.

“Whom are you calling?” She tried to sound reasonable. “Wrong number? Please check your numbers before you call again. You keep getting me instead of whoever “

“Did you enjoy the little romantic surprises, Darlin’?” His voice was a cross between a caress and an insult.

“Surprises?” she asked. “What surprises?” At that moment she realized. Her chest constricted. She bolted upright in bed so quickly her head swam.

“Aren’t the flowers gorgeous? Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady. Intoxicatin’ fragrances, huh?”

“Who are you? Am I supposed to I know you?”

“Not as well as I know you, lovely lady.”

“Why–how did you change my order? Who are you!”

“You deserve beautiful things,” he purred.

“But you shouldn’t send me gifts. I mean it.” She didn’t recognize his voice or the lazy southern drawl. “The flowers were extravagant. The food was way past too much.” She hit her pillow. “You have no business listening in on my phone calls.”

He seemed to ignore her. “You need a new robe, silky, sheer, and black, Sugar. That’s some sexy body under all that terry cloth, smooth, sweet, warm from sle

Connect with Mary Marvella

Follow Mary Marvella on Twitter @mmarvellab






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Volunteering Ideas- An 8 Part Summer Series (Part One)

Did you know that one of the main benefits of volunteering is to make YOU happier?
This summer, for the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting some ways you can volunteer in your community.

Week One:

Although sometimes overlooked, begin by recognizing the needs of your own family first. Elderly grandparents may need a shopping trip or Saturday morning company. Young families would appreciate help looking after their little ones. The possibilities are endless!

What are some ways you can volunteer and help your own family? Please leave your comments below.

It’s a Christmas in July promotion!

Travel to the beautiful country of Portugal and enjoy A Portuguese Christmas

Love can come softly, like holiday snow. Or sweep you away like a riptide.

World-class surfer Krystal Walters would have appreciated the beauty of her surroundings—a quaint cottage in a fragrant Portuguese olive grove—if a wipeout hadn’t changed all her holiday plans.

Now, suffering the dizzying aftereffects of multiple concussions, she’s determined to make it home to Rhode Island for Christmas, even if she has to defy doctor’s orders. Except those orders are being enforced by Adolfo Silva. A man as arrogant as he is ruggedly handsome.

Spending every waking moment working to make the family olive farm a success, Adolfo barely has time to savor a traditional Feliz Natal. But the moment Krystal disappears under a mountain of sea water, his focus shifts to a sun-kissed spitfire with golden hair, sky-blue eyes, and a will as immovable as his own.

Keeping her safe is his first priority, but this bold, courageous woman’s wings won’t be clipped. Before they can plant the seeds of a future together, he’ll have to convince her that spending Christmas—and maybe every holiday to come—with him isn’t the end of the world.

Because she’s become the center of his.

A Portuguese Christmas is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook. Snag your copy of today!

Free on KU!

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July Giveaways!

July’s Hot Summertime Reads Giveaway – Win! Win! Win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Bretes July 4th Giveaway

And speaking of winning, take a look at the Wild Roses of Prose Newsletter. There’s a free audio book for one lucky winner!

WildRosesofProse_Chocolate (002)

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Who’s Getting Ready for the 4th of July?

July 4th is Independence today in America, and many families celebrate with outdoor events, such as a picnic or a barbecue. Firework shows will be held in many states, often accompanied by the national anthem.

Did you know a “salute to the union,” a salute for each state, is fired at noon by any capable military base?

Whether you wear red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag, or enjoy a relaxing day at home, Happy 4th of July!

Looking for a great beach read? Maeve, my sweet romance, is set on the exotic island of Corsica, France, and available in ebook and paperback. Grab your copy today. FREE on Kindle Unlimited!

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Western Romance…with a Vengeance by Toni V. Sweeney

“…NEBRASKA: Vengeance from Eden puts a spell on you right from the beginning… you’ll find it both poignant and heartbreaking.  You might think you’ve figured out what’s going to happen before you reach the end but you’ll probably miss the mark like I did, which leaves the ending completely unpredictable, just as it should be.”—Margaret Marr, nightsan


NEBRASKA: Vengeance from Eden was my second venture into the Western genre.  My steady date, a typical Midwesterner, at the time liked Westerns and asked me why I didn’t write one instead of those “science fiction things.”  So, to make him happy, I said I would.


Well, the boyfriend’s long gone, riding off into the sunset (as boyfriends are prone to do) but the story’s still here—in various media forms.


When I started writing Vengeance from Eden, it played itself in my mind like an episode of Gunsmoke… a man walks into a saloon and in front of thirteen witnesses, guns down the owner, then waits to be arrested.  At his trial, he refuses to give a defense, practically begs to be found guilty.  Awaiting execution, he finally agrees to tell the young deputy guarding him why he committed cold-blooded murder, and what the boy learns makes him question whether justice is really about to be carried out.

The rest of the story is told in flashback…how Lucas Brennan’s father left his Georgia home because he and his own father had conflicting opinions about the upcoming War of Secession, how Michael Brennan and his wife died during a blizzard at their Nebraska ranch leaving their son an orphan,  the birth of Luke’s own son to a Pawnee girl,  Luke’s marriage to Marietta Sylvestre, a Southern belle half his age…and of the terrible event that turned Luke’s happy life into tragedy within the space of a few hours and made a peaceful, family man into a stone-cold killer.

Lucas Brennan is a typical mid-Westerner of that period, descended from people born elsewhere, growing to manhood in a country where the weak never survive and the strong prevail through sheer power of will…fighting for and deserving every moment of happiness he receives. Nebraska: Vengeance from Eden does have a happy ending, to be sure—thought it’s what I call a Toni Sweeney Happy Ending, hauntingly tinged with bittersweet.  Still, it’s one with which readers will not find fault, I think.  And if you shed a few tears along the trail of Lucas’ journey, that’s okay, too.


On the morning he was to depart, they went walking in the garden.

Marietta picked a rose, still curled into a tight bud, placing it in his lapel. “Something to remember me by while you’re travelin’ back to Nebraska,” she said. She looked away quickly, not wanting him to see how thought of his leaving was affecting her.

He touched the rose, wanting more than that memory to take back with him. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Miss Silvestre…”

“Oh, look…” she interrupted, glancing down. There was a dandelion growing out of a crack in the stones. She bent and picked it. “Are you in love, Mr. Brennan? Let’s see.” She held it under his chin.

“What are you doing?” Brought out of his selfish thoughts, he asked it as he laughed at that foolishness.

“If you’re in love, the yellow’ll reflect on your skin.” She studied his chin, thinking how determined it looked as Luke’s mouth tightened into a stern straight line. There was a definite cast of yellow against that sun-darkened flesh. “Well,” she moved away, feeling a deeper sinking in her heart. “It appears you are.”

With who? Was there someone in Nebraska? He hadn’t mentioned a sweetheart or a wife. Her heart gave a sickening flutter. Oh, surely he isn’t…

He didn’t answer, just thought, To Hell with this foolishness. Tell her! With a fierceness startling them both, Luke caught her by the shoulders, looked into her eyes and said, “Miss Silvestre, I’ve something to say before I go.”

“Yes, Mr. Brennan?” She might’ve been shocked by his touching her, but Marietta recovered quickly. She stood very still, looking up at him, allowing a slight frown to form as she realized how very intense and serious he’d become.

“I-I just want you to know…that the days I’ve spent here… in your father’s house…. with you…have been the…most enjoyable…of my life…” He felt like a locomotive running out of steam, the strength with which he started his declaration deserting him in mid-sentence. “and…while I realize I don’t have a chance of ever being anything more than just…a friend to you…” I’m saying it all wrong, damn it, he thought in despair, stammering and stupid sounding. She’ll think me a fool. He finished, misery in each syllable, “I’ll cherish these moments forever.”

It was a long speech for him, and a very personal one. Luke flushed as much with the heat of the emotion he was revealing as the embarrassment and sickening sense of doom he felt. He could hardly believe it when Marietta stepped back, escaping his hands to look up at him and smile, the yellow flower held sending its glow against her own throat.

With a deep sigh of relief, though he wasn’t aware of it at that moment, she asked softly, “Whatevuh makes you think you don’t have a chance, Mr. Brennan?”






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