Before We Leave is the saga of the Justine-Earth mutants and the Thalian-Justine Earth descendents living in Texas in 1869 through 1949 when they leave Earth.
Red O’Neal, Justine-Earth mutant delivers a punishing beating to his half-brother, Daniel Hunter, for courting Red’s Earth sister, Antoinette O’Neal. She is to be sent to a convent until she agrees to marry a much older, wealthier man. Antoinette had managed to send a letter to her betrothed Lorenz MacDonald about her danger. Lorenz rescues her on the journey to the convent. His mother and his adoptive father, MacDonald, the Thalian-Justine mutant, allow the marriage rather than lose Lorenz. The birth of their third child prompts Antoinette to ask Lorenz why he and two of their children have two hearts. He spends the night explaining about ships that do not require sails and beings from other planets.
During their years in Texas, the neighboring Rolfe ranch is attacked by Comanche raiders. Antoinette and her mother-in-law, Anna, are able to fight them off until help arrives and before Brigetta Rolfe gives birth to a baby girl.
The elder MacDonald’s daughter, Mina, an Earth-Thalian-Justine mutant, Lorenz’s sister, marries Pastor James Wilhelm Rolfe. Both families survive raiders, quarrels with each other, confronting a mind so powerful that until then it was thought that only God or the devil possessed those abilities. The blizzard of 1888 imposes new dangers. Martin and Brigetta Rolfe’s daughter runs off with a Mexican. A bloody hanging follows. When Lorenz returns home, a telegram tells him his sister, Margareatha, has gone mad after the death of her husband and children during the blizzard. Daniel and Lorenz arrive in time to keep her out of an insane asylum.
Lorenz and Antoinette’s oldest son becomes a lawyer in New York. Their youngest son flees when he realizes he cannot kill a man that has shot his best friend. He returns with a blind wife and three-year-old daughter. His wife despises Texas and Texans.
Lorenz and Antoinette’s daughter Melissa becomes a teacher and travels to Montana. She marries Ed Carter, Daniel’s deputy. When Ed is killed by bank robbers, Melissa kills them and moves to New York. Her aunt, Margareatha, goes with her. Kendal and family will follow. Kendall dies there in 1921.
Margareatha marries a man with the Bureau of Investigation who tries to arrest her as an alien for possessing two hearts. She is able to stop him with her mind control abilities. She is able to drive to the home of Gary MacDonald, the family doctor and son of Randall before she gives birth to a daughter.
Antoinette dies in 1934. Lorenz, Margareatha, and Randall refuse to leave Earth. Lorenz loses his temper when his great-niece is beaten by her husband. He nearly kills her husband with his fists. People will realize his white hair is a ruse. He knows he must leave Earth with his father and grandmother as soon as Randall’s wife dies and Margareatha’s daughter is old enough to survive on her own. World War II interrupts their departure. Red O’Neal will accompany them.
They are ready to leave when Lorenz discovers an FBI agent watching the MacDonald Lodge in the Adirondack Mountains. The mutants leave Earth prior to the raid. Wesley MacDonald, Randal’s oldest son and a two star general, deals with the situation. Three of the remaining MacDonald family and one of the Rolfe family have the Justine mindspeak and mind control. The Rolfe member also has the Thalian body build and strength. They will run the MacDonald Corporation and instruct the future generations of mutant beings until they too are ready to leave.
Five Star Review by Michelle Maddox-grott: Amazon.com
As both a sci-fi and post Civil War fan, I read GATHER THE CHILDREN, Ms. Collier's first novel, which sets the stage for this sequel, BEFORE WE LEAVE. Her character development is fantastic: twists, turns and surprises kept me turning the pages. It is filled with historically accurate descriptions, masterful dialogues, interactions with the earthlings and the personal psychology of 'being' regardless of your heritage. I'm looking forward to the next Collier novel. Hope it's soon!