In a slight twist on a well-trod theme, can a good boy change a bad girl?
In 1920s Manhattan, fair-haired, white mobster’s daughter Masie Schultz is the embodiment of a flapper: she’s reckless, fearless, and bold. Despite her brazen bravado, she’s treated as little more than a commodity to either be traded or displayed as needed. When her father hires Benny, a kindhearted and loyal young man, to be her bodyguard, the chemistry is undeniable. However, as the danger around Masie and her family intensifies, will Benny be able to keep her safe and ultimately help her escape her dangerous life? Ficklin’s offering paints a vivid picture of the Jazz Age, dropping details of glamorous flappers and raucous speak-easies, and it boasts cameos from Zelda Fitzgerald and Lucky Luciano. The role of women is explored, with a keen eye to their lack of choices; alongside these issues, there are also some rather intense scenes of physical abuse against women. However, Benny and Masie’s romance is formulaic and heavy on melodrama, weighed down with an abundance of platitudes. Although their struggles may be prosaic, however, most romance aficionados should find the starry-eyed glances and lush historical details swoonworthy. A cliffhanger ending hints at sequels, so hopefully subsequent volumes play to these strengths.
Ambitious but doesn’t quite deliver. (Historical romance. 14-adult)