I did not get introduced to the romance genre thanks to the Ubiquitous Bag Of Harlequins. That glorious honey-hole of Alpha male goodness that many a reader stumbles across in her mother's closet or grandma's attic. My mother and grandmother did not read romance novels. No, they watched soap operas. I was raised on the trashy shenanigans of The Young And The Restless and Dallas. I cut my teeth on marriages that lasted three months, ended in divorce, and resulted in remarriages that lasted another three months. So while I've seen other readers poo-poo the "gimmick" of the digital ebook serial? Yeah, I'm more than likely to fall hook, line and sinker. Because really, what is a serial if not a soap opera? And Lord help me, I'm a girl who cannot say no to a soap opera.
The Gin Lovers by Jamie Brenner is set in New York City, during the heady Prohibition era of the 1920s, pre-Great Depression. Bootleggers, jazz, beautiful people dancing the night away, and a shockingly interesting era for women. It's the passing of the baton from Old School Victorian society mavens to young party girls (and boys) wearing Chanel, long strings of pearls, and drinking cocktails in back-door speakeasies.
The serial opens up with Charlotte Delacorte trying to navigate the society event of her mother-in-law's funeral. Despite the fact that her father never could keep the family finances afloat, Charlotte was respectable enough to land handsome William Delacorte as a husband. In turn, marrying Charlotte is the only remotely rebellious thing William has ever done. But now the Queen is dead (long live the Queen!) and Charlotte is at a loss. Some are looking for her take over, and others are hoping for blood in the water.
Arriving into this mix is Mae Delacorte, William's hellion 19-year-old sister. Mae, who dresses at the height of flapper fashion, sleeps all day, parties all night, and is shockingly....a lesbian. With no inheritance forthcoming (turns out, Mommy knew about the lesbian thing), Mae moves in with Charlotte and William. William has grown distant and is always away on business. Charlotte is depressed, lonely, and feels like life is passing her buy while she's trapped in a gilded Old School Victorian society cage. Naturally, with Mae now orbiting their lives full time? Shenanigans ensue.
This installment's job is to introduce all the players. There is Amelia Astor, (yes, those Astors) with her eye on William and waiting to pounce on Charlotte's failures. Fiona, the ambitious cocktail waitress and Mae's lover. Boom-Boom, a night club owner looking for a new liquor connection, and Jake Larkin, a sexy bartender who catches Charlotte's eye. Who will be the villains and who will be the heroes? At this point, we don't rightly know. What we do know? All these beautiful people are on a collision course with each other.
The Gin Lovers: Little White Lies is when some of those initial questions get more complicated. In this installment Charlotte realizes that her husband hasn't been entirely honest with her when she arrives home after a late night, brought on by Mae and the handsome Jake, to discover the police in their home. Why exactly are the cops there? Then there's Amelia Astor still lurking around, and William has to go on yet another business trip? Really?
The delectable Fiona finds herself getting promoted to "hostess" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) when Boom-Boom realizes other clubs are sending over sexy competition to woo away high-roller customers. Fiona was gunning on Mae being her meal ticket, but with no inheritance forthcoming, her interest in the volatile not-so-fast heiress has waned considerable. In turn, Mae starts to feel a little desperate when her lover starts ignoring her. Oh, and just to make things really tricky? There's now a prohibition agent hanging around, undercover of course, at the club.
The story concludes with Charlotte reaching a turning point. She's found an ally in their butler (awesome character!), but William is still distant, and something is definitely rotten in Denmark. She's also having a hard time getting Jake Larkin out of her mind - and in turn, he seems just as taken with her. With law enforcement circling the wagons, Mae getting desperate, Amelia looking to woo away William, William being secretive, and Charlotte and Jake circling around each other? Yeah, things are definitely about to get very interesting.
Dear Lord, I can't wait for installment number three!
Final Grades = B (for both #1 and #2)