“Let me tell you something 'bout these rich Uptown folk," said Cokie. "They got everything that money can buy, their bank accounts are fat, but they ain't happy. They ain't ever gone be happy. You know why? They soul broke. And money can't fix that, no sir."It's not every day you come across a story about a young lady whose mother works in a brothel. And certainly not a brothel set in 1950's New Orleans. Though I have to say, 1950's in the French Quarter is very enticing. The setting was a highlight going in, but it fell on the back burner to the characters, who were larger than life and so very easy to like, or loathe, in some cases. I think something that stuck out for me about this book, was how attached and involved I became with these characters. I wasn't fully aware of how much I cared until certain events take place. I was shocked at the emotion I felt, and it really elevated the story for me.The main character, Josie, is a clever, determined, gutsy yet cautious young lady with a heart of gold and an intelligent, curious nature. It was easy to like her and feel hope towards her future. Her character development over the course of the novel is very noticeable and well-written. She does her best to not follow the footsteps of her gold-digging, conniving, whore of a mother, even though she is so closely wrapped up in her world.“What do you do with all this bank, Josie? Be a lot easier if you just lifted your skirt.”“The only reason I’d lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you in the head.”I loved the two guys in this story so very much. Patrick owns the bookstore that Jo works in. It was his father Charlie's originally, but Charlie is unable to run the store at this point in his life. You learn a lot about Patrick's father, and get some face time with him. His story line is very emotional, and while you don't really know Charlie through his own eyes, you learn to love him through the eyes of Patrick and Jo. Patrick and Jo are like brother and sister, but there are some confusing moments that come between them, and it felt awkward and confusing, as it was meant to be. And then there was Jesse. Oh my. I was so enamored with this sweet, positive, dependable, hard-working young man. He called Jo "Motor City" because she was from Detroit, and it is one of the cutest nicknames I've ever come across. The moments spent between Jo and Jesse were so natural, believable, touching. Plus, he was so bluntly charming. :)“You like me, Josie Moraine. You just don't know it yet.”The madame, Willy, and the cast of prostitutes were all so very colorful. I enjoyed their page time greatly. Willy was a very interesting person. It appears she stepped into the mother role for Jo, though I would call Willy anything but a mother. But in my eyes, she was looking out for Jo on the sly, making sure she had a job to support herself, and rescued her from trouble when it came lookin'. At the end of the story, I liked Willy a lot. She was one of those characters that surprises you. And then there was Jo's biological mother and the creep she was infatuated with. Both shady ass bitches, if you ask me. I loathe them both, as they cause uber amounts of trouble and heartache for Jo.This book was more than I expected. There is a lot of heartache and turmoil in this book, coupled with violence and scandal. But as you turn the last page, you smile wide because of a very simple yet powerful emotion, one that overcomes fear and leaves you with a sense of peace: hope.It's a story about finding yourself, believing in yourself, and fighting for yourself.