Club Storyville by Riley LaShea
When a young woman develops an attraction to her grandmother’s caregiver, will she nurse her crush? Or will she forfeit her feelings in favour of the fundamentals of femininity in the 1940s?
A woman in her twenties in the forties was expected to manifest manners, possess a genteel appeal, and act like a lady―but not like a lady.
So when Elizabeth meets Ariel, a sophisticated lady who is independent and intrepid, she is in trepidation. Elizabeth’s grandmother has hired Ariel as her live-in caregiver, but even though Nan is the original steel magnolia, she might mind that Ariel has the heart of her shrinking violet of a granddaughter in a steel trap.
As the young women’s friendship flowers, Elizabeth realizes that she’s got it bad (and that ain’t good). Her feelings are as queer as a belle, but is the belle as queer as Elizabeth?
The presence of this nurse from the North causes things to go farther south for Elizabeth when the moribund matriarch instructs Ariel to help her granddaughter find a man.
Fortunately, the man is for Nan, and he lives in Louisiana, so Ariel and Elizabeth take the “Gay” train to New Orleans, where Elizabeth’s fears become manifold. Nan is kind, refined, and colorblind. Elizabeth, meanwhile, is white and green with a yellow streak. Figuring out her feelings―about race and for Ariel―in The Big Easy proves difficult.
Until they enter Club Storyville, an establishment in the red-light district that gives patrons the green light to experience authenticity and acceptance. Here, integration is an expectation, and deviation is cause for celebration.
But will Elizabeth find the motivation for maturation here? Because before she can embrace Ariel, she must embrace herself.
Embraceable describes this novel to a sweet T.
Author Riley LaShea’s writing has more jazz than a big band, more kick than the Charleston, and more strength than a levee. The multilayered plot and characters will put you in mind of a muffuletta, while the romance, with its aerial aura and satin doll texture, will put you in a sentimental mood.
This is LaShea’s Storyville, and she’s sticking to it. She’s also making it easy for us to get right inside her story, for she is an author on the write side of history.