The main characters of my book are pictured above. The heroine, Flora Jean is the large picture on the upper left. Flora Jean is a Melungeon girl, who through unfortunate circumstances, ends up on the gambling steamboat owned by Mr. Jones (top right). He is in the sex slave trade business in Louisianna. That is, he provides beautiful women for Quadroon Balls -- events where wealthy plantation owners purchase a woman of mixed heritage as lifetime mistresses. (These are pictures of what I think the characters look like. While the people above are real people of course, they are only representations of my characters. I do know that the Flora's picture is actually Marcia Pascal, supposedly a woman who was 1/2 Cherokee.)
According to literary traveler George William Featherstonhaugh,
When one of them [a quadroon] attracts the attention of an admirer, and he is desirous of forming a liaison with her, he makes a bargain with the mother, agrees to pay her a sum of money, perhaps 2000 dollars, or some sum in proportion to her merits, as a fund upon which she may retire when the liaison terminates. She is now called “une placée;” those of her caste who are her intimate friends give her fetes, and the lover prepares “un joli appartement meuble.”
Now, recently the truth of whether or not this was truly practiced by the local women of New Orleans has been challenged. But if I understand history correctly, they did take place for women outside of New Orleans brought there for that purpose, and this is the future that Mr. Jones has planned for Flora.
On the middle right of the picture above is the Pilot of the Steamboat, Sam Duncan. He is running from his secret past in Minnesota. He is in love with Flora.
Flora, however, is falling in love with her captor, Mr. Jones (upper right), who has no warm feelings for her past preparing her for the money he will gain by her beauty and trained refinement. However, he does develop a narcissistic attraction to her.Young Flora falls prey to his overtures.
You'll have to read the book to learn how this all plays out.
The bottom right is Pepper Jack, who is in love with the girl in the picture at the middle bottom. Her name is Penny. They are slaves of Mr. Jones. So is Miss Pearl, far left, who is Penny's mother. Miss Pearl has a deep affection for Flora and advocates for her. In fact, all the staff have a deep affection for Flora including a little boy slave named George Washington.
The book includes such occurrences as river pirates, gambling and all kinds of delicious scandal. Stay tuned for the release date!