- “…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 weekends.com
Life in the Old West was difficult by anyone’s standards but there was also a sense of justice, honor, and loyalty that has never been equaled. Those were the qualities I hoped to embody in my novel, NEBRASKA: Vengeance from Eden, the first of my new NEBRASKA! Trilogy. I wanted my cover to reflect the same characteristics, so I asked for a lone man, armed with a rifle, isolated on the prairie…bathed in the golden light of a settling sun…while in the distance, the famous landmark those on the Oregon Trail were apt to see as they crossed the great Plains…Chimney Rock beckons. I wanted the image to conjure up questions, the casual way he’s resting the rifle against his shoulder as he stared at the majestic monument of stone: Is he thinking of what he’s about to do? Is he vacillating between not doing it or will he go ahead with whatever plan he’s made. Will the beauty and peace he sees around him sway him from his decision?
Vengeance from Eden originally came from a suggestion. My steady date at the time liked Westerns and asked me why I didn’t write one instead of those “science fiction things.” (He was a typical Midwesterner…not liking anything unless it had action, guns, and plenty of shooting, nothing requiring a bit of a “willing suspension of disbelief.”) 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 remained.
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, in fact. 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.
Romance? It’s there…but remember: first and foremost, this is a Western, and the love in it is as restrained and delicate as only the love of a shy, very emotionally-controlled man can be. Once it’s unleashed, however, it’s strong enough to change his life. In some ways, not only Gunsmoke, but also every Western I’ve ever seen, from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly to The Unforgiven, helped me write this story.
Lucas Brennan is a typical mid-Western pioneer, 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. Vengeance from Eden does have a happy ending, to be sure—thought it’s 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.
In fact…it’s expected.
NEBRASKA: Vengeance from Eden is available from Class Act Books.