It is 1910, and the city of Butte, Montana is on its way to becoming one of the wealthiest cities of America. The success of the silver and copper mines has drawn a number of young men in search of fortune and glory. Not surprising, a number of women followed these men in search of their own fortune, and thus the Demimonde was formed.
Cathleen Ainsley grew up admiring the strength and independence of her mother, a powerful madam in the red light district of Butte. And when the newly formed Bureau of Investigation sends the irresistible Kane Malone to Mercury Street to investigate allegations of human trafficking in the parlor houses, Cat is eager to prove her mother’s honest heroism. His charm and conviction capture her heart, and she agrees to assist with the investigation. It is her close and personal look at the underbelly of the red light district that causes her to question everything she thought she knew about herself and her mother. And in an effort to protect her mother’s innocence, she may end up sacrificing her own.
Targeted Age Group:: 18+
How is Writing In Your Genre Different from Others?
I began reading romance when I was in high school. Combined with my fascination with soap operas, I developed a highly romanticized view of the world and relationships. When I began writing my own romance books, I felt it was important to tell the stories of strong women. With my historical romances, in particular, I enjoy creating fictional stories around a history that may not be commonly understood by the average person. While we can all rattle off a few dozen stories we’ve read that take place among European royalty–and who doesn’t love them?–few of us have probably read romantic stories set in a historic red light district. It’s different…and it isn’t always pretty. As for Cat Ainsley, I struggled with her at times. She considers herself to be worldly and unsheltered because of the nature of her mother’s business; but she’s actually fairly naive. And I struggled with the balance of showing her strength and the fact that she definitely gets in over her head and must rely on Agent Kane Malone.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Travel. Observe. Write. There are stories everywhere.
I began writing my first novel when I was thirteen, and I have dreamed of my life as a writer ever since. I dreamt of a house on a bluff overlooking the ocean with large windows and an airy solarium with comfy leather sofas on which I would lounge and write. For breaks, I would walk my dogs and small child to the nearby beach.
At some point, I decided to take a more pragmatic approach to life and began teaching high school English. These days, I do live on a bluff, but I overlook the cornfields in the rural Midwest. And I do go for walks with my child, but I have developed an allergy to dogs that typically leave me battling an asthma attack. And for 40% of the year, it’s too cold in the Midwest for leather couches to be comfortable and for solariums to thrive.
Nevertheless, after thirteen years, I am now able to do what I’ve always loved by taking advantage of the self-publishing revolution. And I still have dreams. Currently, for example, I dream of growing a lavish vegetable garden on our bluff. Unfortunately, dreaming about it doesn’t make my thumb any greener. In the meantime, I take great satisfaction in the fact that the survival of my protagonists is dependent only on my imagination rather than my ability to avoid over-watering them.
I stumbled upon an ad on Yahoo for the Dumas Museum in Butte, Montana. The Dumas was the longest running brothel in the U.S. After reading the article about the colorful red light district in Butte, I began looking up other articles and stories. It was a fascinating story that began when the miners moved into Butte and the working women followed. Nearly everyone was seeking fortune, and many of them found it. During my research, I also discovered that the FBI was formerly the Bureau of Investigations (BOI) and one of their primary tasks was to investigate corrupt madams who were entrapping and trafficking young women (forcing them to prostitute themselves). After a couple of hours of reading, I began taking notes and developing the story of Cat Ainsley, the innocent daughter of a prominent madam and her romance with a BOI agent on a mission to find the local brothel owner guilty of human trafficking. And as her story began to come to life for me, I began toying with the idea of telling three stories in Butte, one of a madam’s daughter, one of a high-class prostitute, and one of a progressive young woman fighting against the corruption and sins in her city.