Prohibition, Run Runners, Federal Agents & Romance
July 31, 2013
Karen Barnett in her new book, "Mistaken" published by Abingdon Press takes us into the life of Laurie Burke .
From the back cover: Laurie's judgment about men has never steered her wrong. Until now.
Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life.
Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother's rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather's drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away-for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown-Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless rum-runners--and the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie's mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all.
Prohibition, Rum Runners and Federal Agents are just some of the elements that Karen Barnett has added into her new historical romance. Laurie's world revolves around alcohol. Her father is an alcoholic, her brother rows illegal booze across the river from Canada and the druggist sells 100 proof "medicine" to her father which contributes to his alcoholism. Who can Laurie trust? Is it the druggist's grandson, Daniel, or the Federal Agent Samuel? Laurie has to learn that what you look like on the outside or titles are not the way you find out who a person really is. "Mistaken" is a wonderful, charming romance. The themes of alcoholism, a dysfunctional family, healing from emotional wounds and trusting again are explored with a deft hand by Ms. Barnett. Ms. Barnett does an outstanding job of bringing her characters to life and you really want their romance to succeed. I am already looking forward to more from this talented author.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Somedays, Laurie Burke's life seems to be as shattered as the mirror
and the whiskey bottle that she found broken on the floor.
And whether it is the glass shards or her life, she seems to be the only one picking up the pieces.
The Burke family has not been well since Laurie's Mother died, and that was years ago.
Now Dad and Johnny both work at the mill, and only Dad comes home.
Johnny has moved out, stopped telling Laurie his secrets, and all but disappeared from the life of his almost-fiancee and Laurie's best friend Amelia.
When her father is home, he is drinking and then raging and then mourning all over again,
leaving Laurie powerless to help him.
When he surfaces into sobriety ever so briefly, he makes promises to quit...and then he forgets and locks her out to spend the night on the front porch in the cool Washington State air.
There is one thing responsible for all this havoc wreaked in Laurie's life: the liquor.
Johnny is a criminal rum-runner,
rowing the booze across from Canada to bypass America's temperance laws.
Her father is an alcoholic. That 100 proof "medicine" he buys from the drug store isn't for his shoulder pain anymore, if it ever was.
The druggist who sells it, Mr. Larson, and his grandson Daniel who came back from Seattle to work with him, are both culpable for feeding her father's addiction.
No matter how kind Daniel seems to be, he is probably just like all those other scoundrels
and miscreants that she has attracted over the years.
This time it will be different.
She knows she needs to keep her distance from Daniel Shepherd,
and he knows that there are good reasons why she is right.
Laurie Burke is an upright woman and she will not be brought down by the deadly fluid that rules her family's life. There is one way to stop her brother and her father
and yet protect them at the same time: befriend the prohibition agent who is here in town.
Surely a truthful, honorable man with the power to stop the flow of alcohol is a man she can trust, isn't he?
But what if she is Mistaken?
I would not have known that this was Karen Barnett's debut novel if you hadn't told me.
Mistaken grabs you and pulls you right into the lives of the characters, and each character has more than one side to his story. I wanted to throw Laurie's father out of the house when he was yelling at her to fetch the hidden bottle, then I wanted to cry with her when she said she felt like she didn't love him enough just the way he was.
I cheered when Laurie began to wonder if she had found someone who loved her, and then was grieved by her fear that this would be like all the other times some man had paid her attention.
Each time I thought I had these characters pegged, they turned around and let me see a different corner of their heart.
I also need to say that I really appreciated the fact that these characters had pasts... they were real people, fallen and redeemed. Like us.
Combine that sort of character with dark nights and whisky smuggling,
set in 1926, and you have a book that I really, really enjoyed reading.
I can't wait for more from Karen Barnett, and I hear she has another special project going on with Abingdon Press for a new series!, so after you place your order for Mistaken go check out her website or Facebook!
Laurie Burke is a young woman whose family is making all kinds of choices that directly affect her life. She desperately wants a good life for herself, and yet feels that her family's struggles define her. She has taken on the role of "fixer". But it's not too long into this story that her desire to have a "perfect" family and a "perfect" life gets her into the deepest trouble she's ever seen.
The theme that caught at me and will remain with me for a while, is that we all desire a perfect life. We all wish there were no secrets in our history. We all tend to want to "fix" things for the ones we love. We all become jaded when something or someone isn't as "perfect" as we think they are, or ought to be.
But God is the One who is the Rescuer, Jesus is the One He sent to be the Ultimate Fixer. We all need forgiveness from some messy little thing called SIN. Everyone has some kind of struggle, and when we stop looking at the struggles, and start looking at Jesus, we begin to find the answers to life.
Don't get me wrong. This book isn't preachy! But these are the thoughts that reading it today has inspired. Great read, great job, Ms. Barnett!
Karen Barnett has penned an impressive debut novel, setting her story in a unique era and place, during the days of prohibition in Washington State. Laurie and Daniel are intriguing characters, devoted to their families and willing to pay the price for keeping secrets, even dancing along the tightrope of illegality. Without resorting to cliches or hiding from the realities of alcoholism and criminal activity, Karen tells a story of loyalty, pride, forgiveness, and love. I appreciated the way Karen allowed her characters to genuinely wrestle with moral dilemmas, to be torn between their desire to love and protect their family members and the potential damage to their reputation and spiritual conscience. With appealing protagonists and authentic villains, Mistaken provides a captivating and satisfying read which will appeal to romance and suspense readers alike. I look forward to more from this talented author.
Laurie's brother is involved in a local gang running illegal booze from Canada during Prohibition, and the new man in town, Daniel Shepherd is involved as well. Laurie hates the business the effect alcohol has had on her family, and the fact that all the men in her life seem to be controlled by it, one way or another. Yet she finds herself attracted to Daniel.
Things get complicated when another new face arrives in town: Samuel Brown, a handsome federal agent working to eliminate the illegal trade in alcohol, who is also interested in Laurie. Although her head says Samuel is the better choice, her feelings are conflicted, not least because of her brother's involvement in rum-running.
We get a hint of one of the main plot conflicts in Mistaken's subtitle: First impressions are never what they seem. Literary buffs may recall that the original title of Pride and Prejudice was First Impressions, and there is something of the Lizzie Bennett in Laurie Burke (not merely the initials). Like Lizzie Bennett, Laurie is embarrassed by her family: in her case, by her alcoholic father. Her initial impressions of people are incorrect, and she makes other errors of character judgement in the same way as Lizzie did. I'll let you figure out the other similarities yourself.
Mistaken is Karen Barnett's debut novel, and it's excellent. I find that a lot of Christian fiction, especially historical fiction, starts to get repetitive in the themes, plots, characters and settings. Mistaken is set in a small coastal town about twenty miles south of the Canadian border during the Prohibition era, and alcohol plays a major role in the story. It's an original time setting, and an original plot, and I liked that.
And the author doesn't shy away from the problems alcohol causes and the effect it has on family members. Her writing is more challenging than most Christian fiction, as Laurie has to negotiate some difficult moral choices with no black and white answer. The characters are real, facing problems in a world where the right thing to do isn't the easy thing to do. And while this is Christian fiction and Laurie's faith ultimately helps her in finding the answer to her conundrum, the Christian aspect is very understated. Recommended.
Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.