a Union sharpshooter in the Battle of Boatswain Swamp in Virginia, kills scores of Southern soldiers with his deadly Spencer rifle. Sickened with the death he had brought to other men, he ran from the killing fields, ran from the dark world of the war-torn eastern states to the broad open horizons of the West, and a place called California.
Errin Scanlan, an English highwayman, escapes from the hellish prison on Van Diemens Land in Australia and arrives in San Francisco on the whaling ship Huntress. He plans to celebrate the freedom he had not known for years, celebrate the promise of a better life in a city where his dreams of vast wealth could be fulfilled.
Celeste Beremendes, owner of a vast land holding in California, prepares for a chance to come face to face with the man who had killed her brother and plots to steal her land, a man she is determined to shoot down with her own hand.
Brol Mattoon, the powerful ruler of the San Francisco waterfront where murder and robbery and extortion run rampant and violence and guns decided who wins, plots to destroy the dreams of all three.
Levi, Errin and Celeste, three people so different and yet so much alike with their dreams of love and hopes for a new beginning, joined together. On the violent San Francisco waterfront and back alleys, their lives explode with passion and violence in a battle for revenge and survival.
“Vicaro, Can you teach me how to become an expert pistolero?” Celeste asked. “How to fight a duel and kill a man?”
The old bandit lowered his wineglass and stared in astonishment at her. “Women do not fight duels. No man would draw a weapon against a woman for other men would laugh and think him a coward.”
“Suppose they didn’t know I was a woman? I could be a cousin from Mexico City who carried a pistol and wanted revenge. I could bind my breast flat to my chest and wear a caballero’s jacket, trousers and boots. I’d cut my hair short.”
Vicar appeared doubtful. “Could you truly shoot to kill a man?”
Celeste reflected upon the question. Again she saw her brother lying dead with his pale face and bloody chest. And Dokken with his gloating smile. The hate she had felt then again burned in her veins.
“I could shoot Dokken for killing Ernesto if I should ever have the opportunity,” Celeste said with a firm voice “Please stay and teach me every skill and trick you possess with a pistol.”