"ILONA'S MOUNTAIN" is a woman's historical adventure novel circa 1820-1850. What follows is an engrossing action-packed tale of a young woman's struggles in an era where violence and conflict exists in a male-dominated society. The heroine is a destitute young girl, born 1820 into a sharecropper's family. Adopted by the famous Colonel Wade Hampton of America's Revolutionary War, Ilona Christine Rutledge grows up on the Carolina showplace, Hampton Plantation. Over the years the young Ilona matures as an educated southern lady and an astute businesswoman.
Using plantation slaves, the heroine farms a sizeable garden, opens highway vegetables stand, and wisely shares her profits with the slaves.
By her middle teens, she finances the re-floating of a sunken riverboat from the waters of Savannah, Georgia. She hires a New Orleans marine engineer to raise the derelict, refit it, and fashion it into an opulent riverboat casino. Unexpectedly, heavily armed enemies strike.
Within years, "That Rutledge intruder," now known as The River Queen, acquires a fleet of elegant stern-wheeler gambling boats. Accumulating immense wealth, she helps many people, unwittingly including those who secretly plot to kill her.
The grisly showdown comes when the duelist, Randolph Holcombe, pursues, traps, then challenges "Gray Hair," leader of the murder conspiracy, inside a snow-covered mountain cave. In spite of a surprising and horrible confrontation, the actual identity of "Gray Hair" remains hidden. Only suspicions point to why he hates The River Queen so much.