Baltimore, 1849. During a scandalous crisis, the young Irish Brianna Baird flees her home at Fells Point. With little cash and only a seamstress's trade, she braves the hypnotic streets of New Orleans. The tantalizing Madam DeSalle lures her to her brothel, then sells her to the dashing but questionable gambler, Edward Spina, who falls in love with her. In a tawdry alliance with these two profiteers, Brianna embarks on a journey through the French Quarter's debauched and glittering Voodoo world. Facing the horrors of slavery, she triumphs by gaining freedom papers for her maid Emma's enslaved husband and son. Brianna and Edward escape with them to San Francisco. There she becomes one of the most sought after madams in the gold rush parlor house trade. But will her fame and pluck be enough to save Edward from the Vigilante's noose? This is the first book in the American Madams series.
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I usually don't read romance books, but this book intrigued me with its gorgeous cover and fascinating blurb. I was interested in the prospect of getting a romance book set in the middle of the 19-century, among brothels, madams, and scoundrels, with social injustice and evil man. And that book has it all. Brianna Baird is a young woman taking advantage off by a man and is left pregnant and then is cast out on the street of Baltimore by her drunken father. Thanks to help from her sister and the local midwife and her husband who is a doctor can she get a passage to New Orleans and a boarding house for unwed mothers. However, life in New Orleans isn't easy and she finds herself destitute and then is when Madam Desalle tricks her into her brothel to work as a seamstress, at last, that's her hook, but if the Madam isn't pleased, well there are other things "to sell". Brianna has the good fortune to catch the eyes of gambler Edward Spina, a man who will change her life. Now, the book had some ups and down for me, with some parts working better for me than other. For instance, I enjoyed the last part of the book, set in San Francisco the best, not that I did not enjoy the stories set in Baltimore and New Orleans. But, the San Francisco story had more action to it, more thrilling drama. The beginning in Baltimore, for instance, was good, but we all knew where Brianna's naivety would get her in the end. Although I have to give it to Brianna, I really felt sorry for her, hardly knowing anything about the risk of pregnancy other than sex is a sin. So, all in all is this a good book and I bet romance readers will love it.