The 20s Girl, The Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns is a fizzing giggly historical romance that makes you feel as if you’re drinking a bottle of Prosecco on holiday. In Gerardine Chiledexter it has a delicate-looking heroine who has inherited the kick-ass nature, and the debts, of her late Aunt Leonie. There’s a loyal friend, a crumbling bookshop, a psychic cat, shiverings and whisperings in the dark, an effete beau and a distinct lack of marriageable men in 1924 England after the Great War. Oh, and there’s a tall brooding cowboy with an enormous ranch in Texas.
Kearns has a wonderful flowing style, telling her story with wit and charm and without a glimpse of the author’s feet paddling below the water keeping the story and the characters tip-top. All the romantic conventions are here. A heroine, down on her luck but with an endless wardrobe of floaty Twenties couture dresses. A suitor, willing but uninspiring. An English village, green, damp, without eligible men. A crumbling mansion with an elderly crumbling workforce. Into this walks Coop, a cowboy with a drawl, a hatred of the wet, and a real impatient manner. Aunt Leonie, it appears, has left her half-share of a cattle ranch in Texas to Gerry. Coop owns the other half and he wants Gerry to sell it to him. Now. Immediately. Which of course she doesn’t.
Determined to find out what elegant fun-loving Leonie was doing in Texas, Gerry travels to the Circle-O Ranch in the middle of nowhere. There she finds a number of other romantic ingredients: an uppity neighbouring young lady who says she is engaged to Coop; a will-o-the-wisp teenager called Scoot; a staff of cowhands and Mexican servants with whom she is unable to communicate and horses she must ride. What Gerry doesn’t find is her luggage which has gone missing en route, so she is forced into a selection of Coop’s old trousers and shirts. The Texas section is something of a closed room scenario mixing together a number of unlikely characters, adding a financial mystery and people not being what they seem to be. And though Coop seems desperate for Gerry to sign the sale papers and leave, she remains determined to discover Leonie’s mystery.
There were a couple of times when the pace slowed and I wanted it to speed up again, but Kearns slowed things down at exactly the right romantic moments. Oh, and I loved the quotes for young ladies from 1920s handbooks, a new one at the head of each chapter. For example, from Advice to Miss All-Alone , ‘Try not to become shabby, shallow or sour. Rather, read improving books and drink cocoa.’ Needless to say, Gerry does not take this advice.
This book really surprised me, it made me chuckle out loud. I’ll definitely be looking for other books by this author. One thing, I wish the title was different. Shorter, perhaps including something about the cowboy?
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THE 20S GIRL, THE GHOST, AND ALL THAT JAZZ by @june_kearns #bookreview https://wp.me/p5gEM4-3wq via @SandraDanby