Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning.
In 1850 Charleston, South Carolina, brutality and cruelty simmer just under the genteel surface of Southern society. In an era where ladies are considered mere property, beautiful and headstrong Willow Hendricks’ father has filled her life with turmoil, secrets, and lies. Her father rules her life until she finds a kindred spirit in spunky, outspoken Whitney Barry, a northerner from Boston. Together these Charleston belles are driven to take control of their own lives—and they are plunged into fear and chaos in their quest to fight for the rights of slaves. Against all odds, these feisty women fight to secure freedom and equality for those made powerless and persecuted by a supposedly superior race. Only when they’ve lost it all do they find a new beginning. Book 1 presents Willow and Whitney—and the reader—with the hardships the slaves endure at the hands of their white masters.
Enjoy a sneak peek from A Slave of the Shadows
by Naomi Finley
CHARLESTON, 1832 The dogs were getting closer. Terror was slipping into panic. She held her swollen belly as she ran through the woods, the hand of the small slave child clasped tight in hers. She knew if they were caught her secret would be out. Many lives would be in danger, and who knew what would happen to the child?
They reached the swamps and blundered in, the sucking mud of the marsh grasping at their legs. The child’s pace slowed. Night was closing in around them and she was tired. “Missus, I can’t!” she cried.
“We have to, sweetheart. We can’t stop!” she urged, breathless. She felt as if her lungs were going to collapse. Determined, she pushed on into the deadly swamp, even as her mind screamed, We will never make it!
Fear ate away at her mind as fatigue took over. She was going to give birth right there in the middle of the swamps if they didn’t find cover to rest soon. Blinking sweat from her eyes, she desperately searched for a hiding spot. There! She pushed into dense brush several yards in front of them, almost diving in, tugging the little girl with her. She crouched and pulled the foliage around them.
The howling of the dogs grew deafening as they pulled their handlers through the swamp. She imagined the wet, muddy ground suctioning at the slave traders’ feet as they moved. The child’s fright overtook her and she began to sob. Olivia covered her mouth with her hand, watching the light from the torches bobbing through the swamp, growing from bright dots to drive the darkness back as they got closer. She could hear the dogs sniffing, trying to catch their scent. Pulling the child to her, she tried to calm her trembling body, willing her to be silent.
She had come across the half-starved child hiding in the woods by her plantation. There’d been no time to plan a better escape. She couldn’t follow the usual channels. With the slave traders on their heels, she reacted without thinking. As she’d sprinted across the fields with the child, she heard one man yell behind them, “It’s a bloody white woman with the child!”
We need to get to the swamps. It’s the only way we stand a chance, she’d thought.
Now—it was only minutes before they would be caught. If by some miracle they escaped detection, they would starve to death or become prey to the low country predators. Her mind ran wild with these paralyzing thoughts, not realizing for a brief moment that the lights had dimmed, and the dogs’ barking drifted farther away. The child started to speak, but Olivia silenced her with a finger to her lips. They sat completely still, unsure if any of the slave catchers had stayed behind.
The light from the full moon bathed the swamp in an eerie glow. She lay waiting, wrapped in the veil of vines hanging from the cypress tree looming above them. Her skin recoiled from the chilling dampness setting in. She pulled the child closer and they huddled together for warmth. Exhaustion carried the child away into sleep. Olivia followed, descending into a restless sleep plagued by baying hounds and cruel slavers.
Morning wrapped the swamp in mist, making visibility unreliable. Cautiously, she parted the vines and stepped out of their hiding place. Her skin itched, and the child scratched feverishly—the mosquitoes had made a meal of them as they slept. She stopped, her ears tuned to the noise around them. There, the trickling of a distant creek.
And all around, the croaking of frogs.
They must turn back. It was suicide to go farther into the swamps without food and water. The slave catchers had likely given up, thinking they had gone deeper in, sacrificing themselves to the environment.
She doubled back, pulling the child with her to the main road, where she paused and peeked up and down the road before stepping out. Clear. She ran to the cover of the trees on the other side, her head turned, peering over her shoulder to make sure they weren’t being followed.
A scream escaped her lips as she collided with the solid chest of a human.
End of Excerpt
Copyright © by Naomi Finley
Learn more about this book and order a copy by visiting the author's website. A SLAVE OF THE SHADOWS was released March 5, 2018.
AUTHOR BIO: Naomi lives in Northern Alberta. Her love for travel means her suitcase is always on standby while she awaits her next plane ticket and adventure. Her love for history and the Deep South is driven by the several years she spent as a child living in a Tennessee plantation house. She comes from a family of six sisters. She married her high school sweetheart and has two teenage children and two dogs named Ginger and Snaps. Creativity and passion are the focus of her life. Apart from writing fiction, her interests include interior design, cooking new recipes, throwing lavish dinner parties, movies, health, and fitness.
A Slave of the Shadows is her first novel.
A Slave of the Shadows by Naomi Finley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 1
Language Level: 2
Violence Level: Sensitive
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