Fourteen-year-old Goldsmith Jones is left stranded in crime-ridden, gangland territory. He finds himself living at The Shades, a home to local street kids. While selling sexual favours down the Dead Man’s Alley to survive, Jones is charmed by a seaman he knows as Sweet Virginia. Moving further away from the relative security that The Shades and his best friend, Raccoon, offered him, Jones is drawn ever closer to the manipulative Sweet Virginia. When Raccoon falls gravely ill and is taken to convalesce on the rural Rancheria, Jones is left under the controlling powers of the unscrupulous navvy. Swindled and wrongly accused, he is unexpectedly rescued by the leader of the villainous Suarez Brothers, the charismatic Saul. Faced with a choice between becoming Saul’s ‘little brother’ and saving Sweet Virginia’s life, Goldsmith Jones must embark on a dangerous journey which will change his young life forever.
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It’s San Francisco, 1862. 14-year old orphan, Goldsmith Jones, has lost his adult protector Joe, and is now stranded in gang-ridden San Francisco. A boy called Juan helps him find sage haven in ‘The Shades,' a derelict building owned by the notorious Suarez Brothers, and home to the boys working on the street.
After a tragic discovery, Jones is held for questions but escapes by cunning means.
He meets another boy called raccoon, a robber by trade. He helps Jones recoup some the money he believes the authorities have has been stolen from him.
Jones has an on-going romance with a boy called Juan. His pregnant girlfriend sees Jones as a threat, and starts a battle between them.
After the fight, Raccoon invites Jones meet a lady called Violet, who lives locked up in the attic. Suspicious of her, he declines Raccoons invitation to stay, and returns back down to the Shades.
He discovers that Juan has another boy lover who goes further than he did, and is left feeling alone and rejected. But, as if that wasn’t bad enough, her learns he is out of money and must now start earning his keep down “Dead Man’s Alley” doing ‘dirty work’.
After a dangerous encounter, and unhappy with his bedfellow, Jones decides to take up Raccoons offer and moves up into the attic with him and Violet. Violet, however, turns out to be equally dangerous and Jones sets out to find Joe.
On finding Joe, he realizes he has nothing to say to him, but he and Raccoon seem to have an idea about being partners. That dream is quickly squashed when Raccoon explains to Jones he intends nothing romantic.
On returning back to the attic, the two boys find Violet has had some kind of breakdown. It seems she has been told her navy lover is dead. Unsure of what to do they call for help. They learn that Violet has returned to her other self: Saul Suarez’ ‘other’ brother
Violet is now riding with Suarez gang and Jones and Raccoon are left together to try and get along. One day they hear that Violet has hooked up with some navy scoundrel, turned into Saul’s’ enemy, and never will return.
One day Jones receives a warning about a certain good-looking Navy in the area.
Despite the caution, Jones is charmed by one he calls Sweet Virginia. It isn’t long before he is awakened to sexual pleasure.
With dreams of a happy life together on a ranch selling horses, Jones wanders further away from the relative security of Raccoon and the Shades and deeper into the wilderness with sweet Virginia.
Jones agrees to sell contraband tobacco for Sweet Virginia.
When Jones loses the money, Sweet Virginia abandons him.
Raccoon falls dangerously ill and is taken to live with his relatives on a Native American Rancheria. Jones is now left alone at The Shades, without his friend or his lover’s affections.
One day Jones finds Sweet Virginia beaten up and looking a mess. Wanting to help him, Jones agrees to enter into a dangerous liaison with a wealthy man called ‘The Golden Daddy.'
He finds himself injured, swindled, in jail and waiting for the noose. When rescued by Saul Suarez, he finds himself an honorary family member of his notorious circle. Jones soon finds himself torn between his growing affections for Saul and his commitment to his navy lover.
One day, Jones learns that Sweet Virginia is partnered up with a crazed criminal who has turned on the Suarez Brothers and is stealing from them. When Saul declares his intention to kill Virginia for turning his other brother against him, Jones allegiance turns toward protecting Sweet Virginia. In an attempt to rescue his sweetheart, Jones defies the dangerous Saul and sets out on a mission to save the man he loves, with devastating consequences.
Sam Taylor-Pye grew up on the border between Washington state and British Columbia, Canada
and currently lives in Kent in the UK. She received her BA from the Open University, and has an MA in Creative Writing. This is her first published novel.