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Faye Longchamp has lost nearly everything, except for her quick mind and a grim determination to keep her ancestral home, Joyeuse, a moldering plantation hidden along the Florida coast. No one knows how Faye's great-great-grandmother Cally, a newly freed slave barely out of her teens, came to own Joyeuse in the aftermath of the Civil War. No one knows how her descendants hung on to it through Reconstruction, world wars, the Depression, and Jim Crow, but Faye has inherited the island plantation—and the family tenacity.
When the property taxes rise beyond her means, Faye sets out to save Joyeuse by digging for artifacts on her property and the surrounding national wildlife refuge and selling them on the black market. A tiny bit of that dead glory would pay a year's taxes, and a big, valuable chunk of the past would save her home forever. But instead of potsherds and arrowheads, she uncovers a woman's shattered skull, a Jackie Kennedy–style earring nestled against its cheek bone. Faye is torn. If she reports her find, she'll reveal her illegal livelihood, thus risking jail and the loss of Joyeuse. She doesn't intend to let that happen, so she probes into the dead woman's history herself, unaware that the past is rushing toward her like a hurricane across deceptively calm Gulf waters.