REVIEW: Change of Heart by Liv Rancourt
Preacher always said New Orleans was a den of sin, so of course Clarabelle had to see for herself…
Momma says a body reaps what they sow, and Clarabelle’s planted the seeds of trouble. The year is 1933, and not much else is growing in the Oklahoma dirt. Clarabelle’s gone and fallen in love with her best friend, so she figures it’s time to go out and see the world.
If she’s lucky, she’ll find the kind of girl who’ll kiss her back.
Clarabelle heads for New Orleans, and that’s where she meets Vaughn. Now, Vaughn’s as pretty as can be, but she’s hiding something. When she gets jumped by a pair of hoodlums, Clarabelle comes to her rescue and accidentally discovers her secret. She has to decide whether Vaughn is really the kind of girl for her, and though Clarabelle started out a dirt-farming Okie, Vaughn teaches her just what it means to be a lady.
Dear Ms. Rancourt,
I’ve said before that it takes skill to write a good novella. And if it’s also got the challenges of being a historical, of a less well utilized time, with a character facing some situations that nothing has prepared her for, then getting it right is an art form. Oh and a beautiful cover to lure me in doesn’t hurt either. The blurb hinted at the secret and I’ll try and maintain that in the review.
When Clara realizes that she’s tipped her hand at home and needs to leave her small town, she’s smart enough to head for a large city already painted as sinful. Perhaps she can blend in there and find what she wants where things on the fringe of accepted were a little easier to accomplish.
Vaughn seems to be everything Clara’s been hoping for. Beautiful, classy, a real lady and someone who shares Clara’s love of gorgeous clothes. Their friendship blossoms into something more physical and Clara gets her wish to kiss a girl and more. Vaughn takes control of their first lovemaking and gives Clara feelings the younger woman never dreamed of. When Clara discovers Vaughn’s secret, she’s flummoxed. How does she act around Vaughn now and will she be able to accept things as they are?
The writing here is tight and succinct. It’s like the unnecessary fat has been cut away leaving a muscular story in which much is easily conveyed with few words but a lot of heart and feeling. Glances bring the sexual tension to simmering with understated emotion that still packs a punch. Clara has a lot to wrap her thoughts around and I was glad to see her given some time for this. Vaughn’s fear of rejection, ways she’s learned to cope and history of past pain are delicately and heartbreakingly shown. A quick epilogue gives a glimpse of a careful “now” that’s been worked out, perhaps with a bit of help from powerful friends, but one in which a HEA is possible. B+
This time she kissed me, and I sent a mental apology to Momma and the preacher and anyone else who cared. If this was a sin, then I’d take my heaven on earth and deal with the consequences later.