The grieving Francesca is evicted from Joachim’s house by his family who refuses to honor the lovers’ plaçage (concubinage) contract. Francesca’s life becomes intertwined with a homeless hungry white woman and her children when she shares her last Confederate dollars to buy food for them. Her investigation of the woman’s plight lands her work as a spy for Major General Benjamin Butler’s army occupying New Orleans. As Francesca struggles with her identity to make principled choices between another plaçage arrangement and independence, an acquaintance is murdered and her best friend, Emily, is kidnapped.
Francesca works to recover Emily and avenge Joachim. Her arduous mental and physical journey takes a circuitous route, far from a concubine’s life of extravagant balls, lace, and leisure and into the perilous abyss between foreign, Union, and Confederate spies, leading to the Battle of Baton Rouge. Francesca gets help from New Orleans humanitarian Mother Henriette Delille, actress Sarah Butler, and Union spy John Mahan. Can Francesca’s determination and wit find and defeat a three-time murderer?
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