21 March 2010

Guest Author: Lorelie Brown

This week on Unusual Historicals we're featuring contributor Lorelie Brown as she celebrates the release of her 1920s-set debut, JAZZ BABY. Let's hear it for Roaring 20s romance!

Of all the juice joints he had to bust, this one had to be hers...

In the world of illegal speakeasies, Kate Kirkland has her life running smoother than a Model T. Maybe moving the family bar into the basement wasn't the best choice for her alcoholic brother, but Kate's making them a living--until a local gangster tries to expand his territory. Right into her bar.

Luckily Micah Trent, her handsome and too-suave bootlegger, is ready and willing to offer her a helping hand. If Kate can bring herself to accept it. Since sharing one sensual dance to seal their deal, she can’t ignore the delectably wicked way he makes her feel.

Micah is keeping secrets of his own. He's a Prohibition Agent, sworn to shut down the gin mills and distilleries that keep illegal booze flowing. Kate's speakeasy is next on his list--right after he uses her as bait to catch the gangster hunting her.

But even if Micah and Kate can maneuver their way through the gangsters' dangerous underworld, will their love survive the trial by fire?

First, can you tell us a little about JAZZ BABY?

Released from Samhain on March 2, JAZZ BABY is the story of Kate Kirkland, speakeasy owner, and Micah Trent, the Prohibition agent who intends to shut down her bar--but only after he uses her as bait to catch a gangster. And only if he can get over this raging attraction he feels for her.

Since this is Unusual Historical, we have to know about the history – was there anything you didn't like researching about the Jazz age?

The Prohibition agents and bureau, definitely. Mostly because they were a hot mess. The US was unprepared to actually enforce the 21st amendment, and then the Prohibition Bureau went through so many changes over the course of Prohibition. Who they answered to, where they were funded, how they were structured. It was incredibly difficult (for me, at least) to pin down everything to a specific year. But I think I managed it. I'm sure if I screwed something up, someone will be sure to let me know.

Kate's speakeasy is called The Kirk and has curious methods of avoiding raiding by the Prohibition agents. Can you tell us more about that?

The shelves at the bar of The Kirk are rigged to drop if a warning buzzer is hit at the front door. Once they fold down, all the booze breaks and spills out into the sewers. Also, the door from the main bar to the liquor cellars looks like an unbroken section of wall and can only be opened with a looooonng, skinny piece of metal.

The really fun part? Both these things are based on the 21 Club in New York and were really used to avoid padlocking by Prohibition enforcement. Booze was never, ever found on the premises of the club, despite numerous raids. The 21 Club is still in operation and you can have dinner in the wine cellar, behind the hidden wall, if you've got the blunt.

What are you working on now? Sticking with the unusual historicals?

Of course! I've got a completed project set in the mining towns of Montana in the 1880s. It's a western with no cowboys or guns. I like life difficult! Right now I'm working on another western, but this one has plenty of gunslinging. Next up is a sequel to JAZZ BABY, which will be Jake and Susie's story.


Thanks for stopping by, Lorelie, and congratulations on your debut! Readers, would you like to win a free copy of JAZZ BABY? Just leave a comment or question here for your chance. Maybe answer this: Does the Roaring 20s appeal to you as a romantic setting? Is it "historical enough" for today's romance market? Any of your thoughts would be appreciated! A winner will be drawn at random next Sunday. Void where prohibited. Best of luck!