Published: October 22nd, 2014
By: Tea Cooper
Sydney is no place for the fainthearted -- five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.
Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.
World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he's luckier than most. He's survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he's set for the high life.
But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he's trying to escape suddenly set all his plans awry. Try as he might he can't shake the past, and money isn't enough to pay the debts he's incurred.
I do not normally branch out past the USA for my contemporary authors (classics are a different story), but occasionally I'll find myself testing out an Australian, Canadian or British author because the book synopsis appeals to me too much to ignore. This was one such case. I know next to nothing about Australia in the 1920s Jazz Era, but I've loved learning about America during that time. This book promises a strong, independent heroine and a somewhat emotionally scarred hero with a past romantic connection (at least it alludes to it in the blurb I read). How can you loose with a brash, ex-WWI pilot and a gutsy jazz singer falling in love? Well, apparently it's a possible outcome as I found out from this particular read.
Dolly IS NOT who the blurb makes her out to be. She only left home so she wouldn't have to get married, as that's all that was left for her at home after her father died and her brother never came home from the War. She is timid, lets people talk to her like she's a doormat and is extremely naive about the real world. Upon getting a job at a "boardinghouse" it takes her almost two days to realize that it's really a high-class brothel!!! She spends a lot of time fighting the fact that the Madam of the house wants her to sing for entertainment and at first has almost crippling stage fright. Jack Dalton is the boy next door, who served in the Air Corps with her brother, Ted, who was killed in action. He sees Dolly at the brothel in Sydney and immediately tries to control her life on behalf of her dead brother. He tells himself it's out of guilt, because he was unable to save Ted. But he spends an awful lot of time staring at Dolly, basically drooling over her, for that to be true.
There are a lot of plot "twists" in this short romance, each of them more eye-rollingly predictable than the last one. Who the owner of the "boardinghouse" actually is, the identity of the mysterious boxer that Jack runs into, whether or not Cynthia (Jack's prostitute friend and occasional bed-mate from what I understood) could manage to keep Jack and Dolly apart. It ended the way I thought it would and fact of how short it is and just how much is supposed to have happened in only a couple of days, is another thing that makes me unable to suspend my disbelief. Plus, there is a whole thing at the end with another madam and some drug runners that is caused by Dolly's absolute inability to think that was ridiculous.
VERDICT: 1/5 Stars (Only because I finished it and it was pretty readable)
*I received this book from Escape Publishing, on NetGalley. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. The expected publication date is October 22nd, 2014.*