The sixth and final installment of Book One of the Riverbeast series is now on sale. Happily ever time? You betcha! Click here to get the book!
The final installment of the first book of the Riverbeast series is out, I hope it meets or exceeds all expectations. Especially sales expectations! But also, expectations of anyone who has liked the other books in the series. Here's the official precis:
Trapped in the notorious Hole in the Bluff Saloon after she is sold as a runaway slave girl to the saloon owner by riverboat pirate Bart Fink, Constance Harlee finds herself forced to live the life of a saloon girl. She expected it to be a hard life, serving outlaws so wicked that in many towns they would soon find themselves hanged for their crimes. But what she never expected was that she would fall in love with one of the customers! This book is over 19,000 words long.
Now there's a very nice and lengthy erotic bondage scene, also an intense whipping scene followed by public sex, humiliation and slapping around. There's also a catfight, not really a lesbian catfight as it's the point where Constance finally breaks down under all the mistreatment she has experienced and tries to strangle one of the other saloon girls. There's also a gunfight and well ... other things which I'll save for a surprise.
I had a lot of fun researching this book. I tried to keep things as authentic as I could. Little things like lighting ... I found out that in 1820 whale oil lamps were in common use for lighting except among the very poor who had to make do with candles. Or the sanitary facilities on steamboats ... turns out, they used chamber pots and had communal showers. At the same time, they had very luxurious accommodations and traveling barbers and generally were the high life for the upper deck passengers, not so much so for passengers on the lower deck. (There were no below decks quarters, steamboats had a very shallow draft as you might expect, given the fact that the Mississippi could get very shallow indeed in places, and the locations of shoals tended to change with seasonal storms.)
The real Mississippi riverboatmen are not the unremitting bastards of Bart Fink's crew as portrayed in this book. They were a wild lot: they fought, they drank, and their lives were often short. But they were not outlaws, per se, and the sort of treatment Constance endured in the story is not what you would expect from them. But you have to figure a scumbag like Bart Fink would attract the worst of the worst. I also seriously doubt that prostitutes traveled on riverboats paying their fare in sexual favors, but I liked having the chance to contrast Constance's treatment with that of the prostitutes, so I got all unhistorical.
The Hole in the Bluff Saloon is VERY loosely based on the Cave in the Rock outlaw hideout, and Davey is VERY loosely based on an infamous outlaw who ran a tavern near there whose specialty was killing visitors to his tavern and taking the money they had too much of. Federal troops did raid the real Hole in the Rock outlaw hideout (it was not in fact a saloon) without success on several occasions. It was apparently a very well situated hideout, it was in use for decades. But it was also not on the Mississippi River, so good thing I changed the name to protect the guilty, eh?
I won't tell you what gambler Big Al is very loosely based on, except that it is not Bat Masterton.
Constance is not based on any historical or fictional character, I totally made her up. However, there is historical precedent for Costance's story. Historically, slaves were worth enough money that there was a lucrative trade in kidnapping freed black people in the North and selling them in the South. There were SOME cases where the bounty hunters kidnapped white people who happened to have dark skin and sold them as slaves. They were rare, but they did occur.
And of course the whole issue of "white" and "black" was not nearly as black as white as it was made out to be. There were free people living in the North who had a great deal more black ancestry than many enslaved people in the South. Particularly, attractive young women known as "octoroons" (people with 1/8 black ancestry) were popular in brothels because many of them looked very white indeed, and could eaily have "passed" for white people ... because, for all practical purposes, they WERE white people. It was only the racism and bigotry of the times that made the term meaningful, which is why you don't hear it much nowadays.
Constance, with her black hair and Mediterranean bronzed skin, was in fact entirely of what they would have called "white" ancestry at the time, but Fink and Davey realized that she looked blacker than some octoroons, and could easily be passed off as such. I don't have any idea if this ever happened historically, but it's certainly well within the bounds of possibility.
And if the book sneakily gets the message across that race is a very arbitrary divide and treating people differently on the basis of it rather than their actual character makes very little sense ... well, that's a win ... in my book.