New York, New York 1938—Celeste Newsome is a good time girl with plenty of personal demons. The beautiful dancer holds them at bay with late night benders, plenty of hooch and the company of the opposite sex.
Determined to never let anyone change her bad girl ways, and risk discovery of her Achilles heel, Celeste is turned inside out when Shane Brennan walks into her life. The handsome prizefighter slowly chips away at the hard-hearted Hannah’s defenses and becomes the only man capable of taming her wild heart.
Warning: Although this is a sweet romance, the chemistry between a notorious dancer and a handsome prize fighter will make your toes curl. Expect plenty of drama and secrets before this couple can find their happily ever after.
Kindle Edition - Published April 2nd 2013
Review requested by author in exchange for honest review
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***3 1/2 Stars***
This is the first historical novel review we've written for this blog and I think this was a nice one to start with, Courtney.
1) The setting. Most of this novel takes place in New York City, in 1938. We travel through clubs, private parties, dance venues, and even Madison Square Garden. We also get a feel for the discrimination that our protagonist, Celeste, lives with. Brown gives this facet of the novel a light, but revealing touch. She doesn't pound you with it but provides several key scenes with the overt racism that Celeste experienced and you felt the awfulness of it without it taking over the rest of the book.
2) Celeste. Celeste is a dancer who is drawn back home to attend her estranged father's funeral. It's here that she meets a boxer, Shane Brennan. Celeste tries to deny the attraction and curiosity she feels for him but his persistence and politeness wears her down. While she tries to figure out what to do about Shane, she also is trying to clean up her act. You see, she's been know to drink too much, sleep around too much, and lose amazing career opportunities with these self-sabotaging behaviors. She's taking her move to New York as a chance to try to improve herself and her chances at living her dream career.
3)Shane Brennan. Shane Brennan is a boxer who has one huge secret that could derail his relationship with Celeste. He knows that this secret could destroy any chance he has to get to know her, so what does he do? He keeps the secret to himself. He tries, several times, to convince himself that he should stay away from her but he can't. He falls in love with her and tries to shield her from the discrimination she experiences. He supports her desire to have a career. He loves her despite her inability to cook. Once he decides that she's the one for him, he acts swiftly to make sure that he's the only one for her, forever.
I enjoyed the change of pace this novel offered. While the novel reminded me of some of our more awful and shameful discriminatory behaviors in America, it also offered the goodness and love of Shane and Celeste.
I also wasn't sure what to expect with a historical romance when we got this request. It looked promising though, so we jumped in with both feet. All in all, I really liked it. It was fun and interesting to wrap my mind around another time and place, when people's ideals and beliefs were so different than they are now. Throw in an interracial romance, and their struggles become even more so since the setting for Jezebel is the 1930s New York. While not the pinnacle of the civil rights movement, emotions were high and opinions immovable during the depression.
1) The setting. You said it perfectly with the tones of the book and realistic light shed on affluent businesses still being segregated, but it didn't become about that. It was fact that Celeste lived with and accepted, and while she loved that Shane wanted to protect her, she opened his eyes to how things were for her. He adapted and adjusted the best he could, but you could tell it still got to him.
2) Celeste. Celeste and her inner demons really gave Shane a run for his money on wooing her. The story begins with her going back home for her estranged father's funeral. Here she meets Shane and while she is attracted to him, she is also on edge because she has never had anyone to show her true love. She has always dealt with her problems through alcohol use and men, and it was refreshing to see her really like Shane but still stick to how important it was to find herself and be confident without the help either.
3) Shane. Geez, Shane didn't just have one secret...more like several. I was right in my thinking of one, but the other one at the end surprised me. I didn't see that coming at all, but then again he said himself he didn't talk much. He was forthcoming with his feelings for Celeste, but we aren't let in on a lot of his past. I liked him a lot for always standing up for her, and for playing whatever game she threw at him, whether it be to impress an old acquaintance or follow him up for a party scene he wasn't used to. They had their drama and miscommunications, but when he went all in, He. Went. All. In. His choices choose both of their fates for a while, but he doesn't stop fighting for what he wants, and I loved that.
I, too, enjoyed the pacing, and really enjoyed it as a first time in something I hadn't experienced before. Not that I haven't read historical stories before but it was a first for a romance (the others were mostly all young adult). Propriety and morals were fun to read about in Jezebel as it isn't something we see much of anymore.