If there’s one thing I love, it’s the blues.
Scratch that, if there’s one thing I love, it’s compelling historical fiction.
Wait, if there’s one thing I love, it’s a passionate heroine filled with fire and drive.
Okay, so maybe there’s a medley of things I love, and, as luck would have it, Denny S. Bryce’s Wild Women and the Blues hits all the high notes perfectly.
Wild Women and the Blues transports us to 1925 Chicago, home to flappers, gangsters, and hot jazz. Chorus girl Honoree Dalcour has worked her way to the biggest audition of her life and is within arm’s reach of a spot dancing at famed black-and-tan club the Dreamland Café. Armed with talent, determination, and handmade fashion, Honoree can see her future hobnobbing with Louis Armstrong, his wife, Lil Hardin Armstrong, and filmmaker Oscar Micheaux—that is, until the dark world of bootlegging and policy gambling threatens to put her dreams and her life in jeopardy. In 2015, graduate student Sawyer Hayes believes he has found the missing piece to his doctoral thesis: footage from a lost Micheaux film. The key to his research lies in a tiny room at the Bronzeville Senior Living Facility in the form of the 110-year-old Honoree. As Honoree’s story is revealed piece by piece, Sawyer is forced to come to terms with his own past and the grief that haunts his every move. Packed with powerful emotion and evocative writing, Wild Women and the Blues is exactly the kind of book you want to live in for a while–just as long as you keep an eye out for Capone and his henchmen.
The very best historical fiction removes us from our everyday lives and submerges us in an entirely different time and place, and that’s exactly what Wild Women and the Blues does. It’s no exaggeration when I say that this book consumed me. The sights, the sounds, and the history of Chicago’s jazz scene grabbed me from the moment I picked it up, and I spent the entire weekend in the haze of blues music and edge-of-your-seat drama. Honoree is my favorite kind of protagonist—smart and ambitious with a clear eye on what she wants. The dual timeline is seamless, gliding back and forth between two centuries, each filled with compelling characters, intrigue, and a healthy dash of melt-worthy romance. When I wasn’t furiously flipping to the next page to find out what Honoree’s journey had in store, I was reminding myself to slow down and soak in every perfectly crafted detail. I delighted in every moment, from the opening bars to the final curtain call. My only regret is that it had to end.
Wild Women and the Blues isn’t only one of my favorite period pieces of the year, it’s one of my favorite pieces of the year, period. I can’t wait to read what Denny S. Bryce comes up with next.
Pick up Wild Women and the Blues at bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Amazon, or wherever you buy your books! For more on Denny S. Bryce, visit her website and follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!