Early California, 1908. Andy Maxwell sets out to solve the mystery surrounding the stabbing death of his younger brother outside a San Francisco bar. He’s certain the murder is part of a vendetta against his family, but frustration and suspense mount as he fails to convince authorities that the killing is anything more than the sad consequence of a brawl between a pair of drunks. The police, the U.S. Army, even his mother refuse to entertain the possibility that the killer, Michael Yellow Squirrel, is one of a clan who intends to wipe out the Maxwells and their California Sierra Nevada ranch.
Andy’s quest for the motives and perpetrators behind the scheme carries him from California to Wyoming and deep into his family’s pioneer past and psyche, where he unearths disturbing secrets about, among other matters, his own racial heritage. It also plunges him into a romantic dilemma involving a blonde debutante and an Arapaho princess. Although Andy’s initial purpose is to foil a conspiracy against his family, his journey eventually leads him to question not only his own values, but also those of the frontier that spawned and nourished them.
This historical thriller, the prequel to another gripping historical novel, The Second Vendetta, is set nearly one hundred years in the past, yet The Maxwell Vendetta embodies themes as contemporary as racism, political corruption, and sexual exploitation. In short, contemporary America mirrored in a novel of early California.
In 1847 Bonita Kelly’s daughter is born, then stolen the moment she emerges from the womb. When Bonita finally rediscovers the child six years later, she’s being raised by another family and has no idea who her true mother is. Rather than cause the pain and turmoil that would result from asserting her motherhood, Bonita befriends the family and masquerades as a pretend auntie in order to maintain at least some access to her child. That arrangement lasts until the girl begins to ask questions that threaten to unmask the charade, at which point the putative mother, Flora Torres, declares an end the whole relationship. Using elements of Bonita’s own past, rumors that her dead parents were criminals, and the fact that her business partner is a former madam, Flora labels Bonita unfit to associate with her own daughter.
You Can’t Keep Her is the story of Bonita Kelly’s fight to clear her parents’ names, and claim her rightful place at her daughter’s side. The fight carries her from San Francisco to New Orleans and back again. An intriguing love triangle adds a delicious spiciness to the whole affair. If you read the original Bonita, you know will find yourself in company of an extraordinary woman when you step into You Can’t Keep Her. If you didn’t, well you’ll have a wonderful time getting to know her as you sail the tempestuous seas of this romantic and suspenseful tale.