Debut author Avery Cunningham’s epic love story explores the American Dream between the monolith of Jim Crow, the inflexible world of the original Black upper class, and the violence of 1920s Chicago.
The year is 1921, and America is burning. A fire of vice and virtue rages on every shore, and twenty-year-old biracial Jay Rutledge wants to revel in it all. After a traumatic past leads Jay to the storied shores of Chicago, he embarks on a new life, one where he is finally free to pursue the American Dream. Nelly Sawyer is the daughter of the “wealthiest Negro in America” whose wealth and prestige catapulted his family to the heights of elite Black society. But Nelly has aspirations beyond marriage and children. For the past year, she has worked undercover as an investigative journalist sharing the stories of everyday Black people. Now, her latest assignment takes her right into the den of the dangerous so-called Mayor of Maxwell Street who rules the underground crime syndicate in Chicago. When Nelly and Jay’s paths cross, they both promise to give what the other needs: Jay, a direct path to the underbelly of the city, and Nelly, an in with the Black high society. As the two work together, they begin to see a world beyond their own…and maybe a future for them both. Trapped between the monolith of Jim Crow, the inflexible world of the original Black upper class, and the violence of 1920s Chicago, Jimmy and Nelly stoke the flames of a love worth fighting for. But, as with all things in America, there is a price to be paid.