Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Review: The Bootlegger's Wife by Terri Lee

Winner of the Weta Nichols National Fiction Writing Contest for Historical Fiction, 2014

The Bootlegger's Wife, by Terri Lee
2014, 315p, Clean Historical Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Life often demands much of love. True love always answers, yes.

It's a story as old as time. Then again, every love story is brand new. And the world never tires of rooting for a couple who hand in hand are determined to defy the odds. So we turn each page with hopeful hearts as we watch the layers of love unfold, knowing all the while that no two people arrive at true love's door unscathed. There is always a price to pay.

Life had been well planned for Frances Durant, but she was fond of saying, "I rarely do what's expected of me." In the summer of 1919 she, like the rest of the country, was ready to throw off the gray days of war and laugh again, now that the 1920s were about to come roaring onto the scene and change everything. What she wasn't ready for was a tall, tanned Marine fresh from the battlefield and ready to take New York City by storm.

Frankie Lee was just the sort of guy to sweep a restless young heiress off her feet. The sort of man who could see that her sass was a thin veil covering an emptiness, a longing and a heart waiting to be found. Their two worlds collide on the dance floor and set in motion a love story that careens through the twenties, when the world thought the parties would never end, to the crash of 1929 and the devastation that followed. A brush with the dark side of the bootleg world, and a tragedy that reaches out from the cold dark night will test their love over and over.

Life often demands much of love. Sometimes more than a person has left to give.

What a great story! Frances Durant is 19 years old and comes from an extremely wealthy family. She is expected to marry a guy her parents have picked out but she doesn't like him at all. She meets a Marine, Frankie Lee, who steals her heart and she never has eyes for anyone else. Her parents don't approve and she has to make a heartbreaking decision.

Her life isn't always easy but she never regrets the decision she made. Frances is likable from the beginning. She's not close to her parents, as evidenced by her calling her mother by her first name, Lena, rather than "mom." She's spunky and independent and willing to face the consequences of her choices. Frankie is also likable. He's handsome, hard-working and romantic. They are very supportive of each other and need to lean on each other through some rough times. As life appears to be looking up for them, they are faced with a tragedy that tests their love more than anything else.

Frances also has a cousin Lucy and they're close. Lucy understands Frances and realizes that she's in a tough position between the man she loves and her parents. The decision Frances is forced to make also affects their relationship.There are some other great side characters that Frankie and Frances meet and I enjoyed getting to know each of them.

This is a well written story that made me laugh and cry. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. The descriptions of what people were going through during that time period felt real. If you enjoy stories set in the 1920's, be sure to pick this one up! I look forward to reading more from this author in the future!

Content: Kissing (clean) and mild swearing.


"Hello Foster, did you miss me?”

“Of course, Miss Frances. This house is never the same when you’re not here.”

“I bet that’s right.”

Though she said the words he would expect from her, they were not accompanied by the usual tossing of the head or a glint in the eye. The words hung in the air without life.

“And how was your stay in the city?”


“Good, good. Glad to hear that you had a nice visit with your cousin.”

“Yes. My cousin.” Her voice trailed off as she made her way upstairs. “I’ll be in my room.”

Lena bustled in, giving orders to the driver laden with bags, and brushed past Foster with barely a nod. Frances was glad to be released from the tight confines of the car. It felt good to stretch her legs, it had been a long drive in more ways than one. Her mother's few attempts at conversation had only fueled Frances's anger. It took all her strength to stare out the window instead of scream, "What right have you to talk to me as if you haven't stolen my chance at happiness? You with your snooty airs."

Now, Frances stood at her door, gazing around the room. Everything was exactly as she had left it only a few short weeks ago, yet somehow everything looked different. She was different. She threw off her shoes and stretched out across her four poster bed, wrapping her arms around her pillow. Staring out the window, she lay lost in thought, completely unaware of the passage of time, until she was called down for dinner, which she promptly ignored.

I can't remember a time when I wasn't scribbling away and playing with words. I wrote my first novel at the age of thirteen. I gladly exchanged the bulk of my sunny days that summer for afternoons spent on the back porch at a make shift table, surrounded by pens, pencils and paper. There, I marveled as I watched the little character that I had created take shape and come to life. That was my first foray into writing, certainly not to be my last. Through times of great joy and times of confusion writing has always been my solace. It is the one thing I return to over and over again. I only truly understand how I feel about something once the words have pushed themselves down through my fingertips and out onto the page.

How are stories born? The words, colors, smells, family legends, people, places and things of my past provide the fertile soil for a small seed of an idea to take up root and blossom. They present themselves to me when they are ready, when they have lain in the soil and soaked up all that they need. Once they come to me and beg to be written, to be set free, it is only then that I recognize the work that's been going on behind the scenes. Sometimes for many years.

Seems much of my creativity resides in my bathtub. Just add water. And so it was with The Bootlegger’s Wife. I lifted the story out of the soapy bubbles. When it showed up, I just nodded knowingly and said, "Of course. It had been there all the time.” The Bootlegger's Wife is a story near and dear to my heart. It grew from the tales I heard as a small child, words that floated around the kitchen table. A phrase here, a snippet unfinished sentence that piqued my curiosity. So the story that traveled through the years, took up residence in my fertile imagination and I let it run free.

And it is my hope, that you dear reader, will find some small piece of yourself in my stories. Something familiar, something that feels like home. May you find yourself nodding along and whispering. "Of course."


Terri~terrileeauthor said...

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share my story with your lovely readers.

nytescrybe said...

As someone who has read and loved Bootlegger more than once, I have to echo the sentiments of the article. Not only was the love story beautiful, but the author's attention to period detail was excellent and it brought the 1920s Big Apple into technicolor in my mind's eye. Thank you for putting the spotlight on a fantastic novel and its author!

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