Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

While looking for a way to get her singing career up and humming, Dot Rodgers is right in the thick of the sparkling Jazz Age in late 1920s Chicago. But she may be in a little thicker than she wants to be. Meanwhile, the small-town, Great War veteran who loves her, Charlie, is hoping his family’s business–as well as his investments in the stock market–will make him the man of means a woman like Dot would go for in Ain’t Misbehavin’, a novel by author Jennifer Lamont Leo.

This novel has a nice take-off point, following the novel before it, You’re the Cream in My Coffee. Given all that’s evident or revealed about that previous story in this book, I’d highly recommend reading that novel before this one.

The covers and Roaring Twenties settings of both these novels just get me. Jazzy tunes, women’s bobbed hair, “the cat’s meow,” and newfangled gizmos like heaters and radios built into automobiles, no less. Yowza! Besides that, some of my favorite moments in the story are away from the city’s “roar,” in a cozy farmhouse setting. Call me sentimental.

I came to like Dot more than I thought I would. She’s flawed and makes mistakes, and she doubts herself, but she’s also competent and capable when she puts her mind to things, and she’s a real sweetheart without being too syrupy.

I did, however, find it hard to follow the course of her thoughts and feelings sometimes, as well as Charlie’s. The two of them can go up and down pretty fast, or they jump to conclusions. While Charlie expresses some early concern for Dot’s spiritual state, his actions don’t really show that he considers it to be a priority. And his behavior toward the end of the book left me feeling iffy about him for other reasons, which is an unfortunate feeling at the end of a romance novel.

There’s also a thread of suspense that seems to be left open-ended…

Anyhow, I could say more about what I liked in the novel, so if the Roaring Twenties series continues, or if a spin-off carries into the thirties or something, I plan to be there.

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Here’s my review of the first book in the Roaring Twenties series, You’re the Cream in My Coffee.

 

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Arts and Entertainment, Authors, Books, Fiction

You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Four Silver Stars

youre-the-cream-in-my-coffeeYou’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Small-town girl Marjorie is visiting Chicago in 1928, away from her family and her fiancé, when she runs into the love of her life from ten years ago, a man presumed dead since he fought in the First World War. Though the man now denies knowing Marjorie, she stays on in Chicago to find out more about him. But she may have more to find out about herself in You’re the Cream in My Coffee by author Jennifer Lamont Leo.

Ah! The Roaring Twenties so wonderfully depicted by this fun, glamorous, and vibrant cover art. It’s rather intriguing, a woman holding a steaming cup of coffee (instead of a glass of something…else) during the era of Prohibition and speakeasies in the U.S. After reading the novel, I felt that the book blurb incorporated the title more meaningfully than the story itself did, but as Marjorie would say, “That’s beside the point.”

The point, here, is that this is quite a charming novel that kept me engrossed from start to finish. Marjorie’s department store job in Chicago had me thinking so much about Selfridge’s department store in London, so imagine my delight when Harry Selfridge’s name popped up! (I did wonder, though, why he isn’t mentioned in the Author’s Note as a real historical figure, along with the real Marshall Field & Co. folks.) With all the various moving parts to Marjorie’s journey, there was never a dull moment in the reading for me.

However, I did find the plot development odd in places. It seems that Marjorie comes to certain conclusions or resolutions, and then she resumes thinking or behaving as if she hasn’t decided anything. I didn’t quite buy into the central romance because I didn’t see anything compelling that the (sudden, or present) feelings there were based on, didn’t quite see what the attraction was. Also, the pacing of the last quarter or so of the novel is awkward, as if it’s rushing to go here, there, and back again, trying to cram in all the final events.

Still, anyone who enjoys Christian historical and women’s fiction should appreciate taking this spin back to the twenties. I’d definitely read this author again.

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The Roaring Twenties series continues–oh, yes it does! Be sure to check out Ain’t Misbehavin’.