REVIEW: Jazz Baby by Lorelie Brown
Dear. Ms. Brown,
If Prohibition/Jazz Age is the new Regency, I say bring it on. This is actually the third book I’ve read recently using this time period and, as far as the era goes, I’ve enjoyed them all. One is m/m, one is m/m/f but readers looking for a m/f story with great conflict need to check this one out.
Micah Trent and his partner work long hours and risk their lives upholding a law that it appears most Americans don’t want enforced. “The Noble Experiment” in prohibiting the sale, manufacture or transport of alcoholic beverages, aka the eighteenth amendment to the US Constitution, is a bust for most Americans who mainly want to go out, wet their whistle a little and have a good time. Increasingly fed up with no help from local law enforcement and feeling like he’s wasting his time busting small time speak-easy owners, Micah lusts to have a shot at bringing down the big time mob families behind the flow of booze in the country.
And it looks like he might get his chance when fate hands him Kate Kirkland, owner and manager of The Kirk, and a possible “in” to going after the Vittorelli family in NYC. At first, Micah just looks at Kate as a beautiful means to an end but soon he begins to admit that she’s becoming a woman he can’t just use and forget. She’s intelligent, hard working, loyal to a fault and carrying a load on her shoulders few women could manage. She’s also viewed by a mob boss’s ne’er-do-well son as an easy mark just because she’s a woman. Can Micah find a crack in Kate’s heart and a solution to the fact that she sells illegal booze and it’s his job to stop her?
I’m so glad you ignored anyone who urged you to write a (do we honestly need any more?) Regency set novel. I want jazz, I want rolled down stockings, I want sleek cars, flapper dresses, It Girls and smoky social clubs (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). The period detail is mood setting without turning into a social documentary. I especially like the contrasts to an older age in the persons of the outraged matrons who witness Kate and Micah kissing (gasp!) in public. For shame! I’m sure they’d be even more shocked at Kate’s backless evening dresses.
Kate a strong heroine up against some tall odds. Her brother is an alcoholic slowly losing himself in bottles of booze, she’s running an illegal establishment which requires safeguards in case of raids and dealing with criminals merely to get what she needs to operate. She doesn’t have time to deal with a smooth talking man who obviously thinks a lot of himself. Or does she? I like that Kate takes her time letting Micah into her personal life and cracks the whip over him in their business dealings as well! She’s tough, she’s determined yet she doesn’t lose the fierce loyalty of her staff or close herself off to others.
Micah starts with a world weary edge but underneath you show how dedicated he is to his job in spite of Joe Average Citizen who’d rather Micah be a slacker and the ruthless mob members who’d kill him for putting a crimp in their operations. With all the risks involved, the attraction which Micah fights for Kate seems all the more powerful. I was thrilled that Micah not only doesn’t care that Kate isn’t a virgin, he’s happy about it. And also happy that Kate offers no apologies for her experience, feels no regrets about it and enjoys sex as much if not more than Micah.
When Kate and Micah finally know each other’s secrets, there’s a lot they have to deal with and accept. Kudos for making Kate demand more truth and honesty from Micah before she’s willing to allow him back into her heart. And I love the way he goes about it, slowly wooing and winning her back. I’m also caught up in the potential romance between Susie and Jake and hope she flips him around a few times for good measure. Patrick sounds like he could be a good angsty type of hero too. I’m a bit confused about the ending of the story. Is Micah still an Agent and is Kate still running a “social club?”
If readers are looking for something different, and I know I am, I hope they look this way. It’s a watershed time in recent US history and not that far in our past, says the woman whose grandmother use to make bathtub gin. And it’s a book filled with characters I enjoyed reading and reading about. B+