Thursday, March 31, 2016

Throwback Thursday Book Review: Speak Easy by Melanie Harlow

Some of you may know that I originally had my own blog, Beauty but a Funny Girl, prior to joining Bookish (now Bookish Lifestyle). I was thinking the other day about all those reviews I left behind when I transferred and thought they should get some love too - no matter how badly written and newbie they come off! So I present to you: Throwback Thursday Reviews! Every once in a while I'll post an old review from Beauty but a Funny Girl, unedited in terms of content, with the exception of any spelling or grammatical mistakes. It's definitely going to be fun and interesting to see how my tastes and writing style have changed over the years!

Speak Easy #1
Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Publication.Date:July 22, 2013
Pages:233 (eARC)
Published By:  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Website:Melanie Harlow

Speak Easy on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received in exchange for an honest book review

Where to get:

Temptation is everywhere.

It's July, 1923. By day twenty-year-old Tiny O’Mara works for her father’s smalltime bootlegging operation. By night she craves the roll-your-stockings-down lifestyle of a flapper, but with her mother gone, she’s usually stuck at home with two younger sisters—until her father is kidnapped by a mobster in Detroit's exploding organized crime scene, and it’s Tiny who has to come up with the ten-thousand-dollar ransom.

In one week.

Enzo DiFiore’s screen-idol looks and dangerous charm leave her breathless, even though he’s the son of the mobster holding her father hostage. But when the forbidden spark between them refuses to burn out, she tries to use their powerful attraction to buy more time.

And then there’s Joey Lupo, the irritatingly handsome pest from her childhood who’s got the street smarts Tiny needs to smuggle enough booze to make a quick ten grand. But he’s got his own agenda where gang rivalries are concerned, and despite his promise to protect her, Tiny isn’t sure she can trust Joey—or stop her growing feelings for him.

To save her father’s life, she’ll have to choose between them. But deciding whom to trust isn’t easy in a world where everyone wants something—be it booze, money, power, or sex—and no one cares what it takes to get it.


Originally posted July 25, 2013 on Beauty but a Funny Girl

I am a sucker for historical novels, especially if they involve certain time periods. Like the 1920s. I love the 1920s. I probably wouldn't want to live in the 1920s, but it's certainly a fun time period to read about. And Harlow's Speak Easy is the perfect read.

The drama starts off pretty much right away. We're introduced to major characters in the novel and get a nice background in regards to Tiny and her family. Her father has a pretty neat set up with their bootlegging business, which Tiny helps make deliveries for.

After receiving a mysterious phone call, Tiny arrives at their boathouse to find her father beaten and tied up. Standing behind him is Angel DiFiore who informs Tiny that she has to pay him $10,000 (roughly $136,225 today) or else he will murder her father. Angel is kind enough to allow Tiny to pay in two easy installments of $5,000 each. The first installment being due tomorrow night. Easy, right?

Once alone in the boathouse, Tiny is trying to process everything when Joey Lupo, her sister's husband's cousin (got that?), shows up. Joey offers to help Tiny get the money and thus begins the drama.

Tiny does everything in her power to sell the whiskey they do have, obtain more, and not completely breakdown. I am actually rather impressed how well Tiny handles the situation. There were snags in plans and hiccups along the way, but Tiny continually keeps a level head and is able to put things right, with help along the way from friends.

I really admire her courage and strength. The men are threatening to kill her father and she stands up to Enzio (Angel's son), keeps the secret from her sisters, and struggles through this delimia in order to safe her father.

Okay, shacking up with the son of the men who is holding your father captive - probably not so levelheaded. (Why is "levelheaded" and word, but "levelhead" isn't?) Though in her defense, Enzio is a pretty captivating figure. And their hookup scenes are pretty damn hot.

But still. ARE YOU CRAZY?! I don't care how much he looks like a movie star. His. Father. Will. Kill. Yours. Thanksgiving is going to be pretty awkward.

Joey on the other hand is a really sweet guy and it's unfortunate the things he has to do in order to help Tiny. It's clear that he has feelings for Tiny, and she him, but you know, things keep getting in their way. *cough*Enzio*cough* He's a sweet character, whom I would have liked to see more of, and I'm curious to see as where the events of this book are going to lead him.

Over all I really enjoyed the story. There was tension, action, mystery, intrigue, and a hint of romance. There a range of characters and Harlow does a nice job of giving them all their own voice, even the minor characters. I would have like Tiny to be less infatuated with Enzio, given the circumstances, and for some of these problems not to have been so easily solved. To me, at least, some of the fixes came about far too smoothly and quickly.

I did feel like I was in the 1920s. There was occasionally dialogue/slang where I was thrown off, but it added to the story - use your powers of observation to figure it out!

I really did enjoy Speak Easy with its setting, characters, and plot. Once I finished I immediately wanted more! When I signed up for this tour I hadn't realized it was book one in a series and I'm so glad that it is for I shall definitely be continuing.

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