Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Release Day Review: Change of Heart by Liv Rancourt #Review #Giveaway ~ Guest Post

Author: Liv Rancourt
Book: Change of Heart
Self Published
Publication date: March 1, 2017
Length: 70 pages

Reviewed by Meredith


Preacher always said New Orleans was a den of sin, so of course Clarabelle had to see for herself…

Momma says a body reaps what they sow, and Clarabelle’s planted the seeds of trouble. The year is 1933, and not much else is growing in the Oklahoma dirt. Clarabelle’s gone and fallen in love with her best friend, so she figures it's time to go out and see the world.

If she’s lucky, she’ll find the kind of girl who'll kiss her back.

Clarabelle heads for New Orleans, and that's where she meets Vaughn. Now, Vaughn's as pretty as can be, but she's hiding something. When she gets jumped by a pair of hoodlums, Clarabelle comes to her rescue and accidentally discovers her secret. She has to decide whether Vaughn is really the kind of girl for her, and though Clarabelle started out a dirt-farming Okie, Vaughn teaches her just what it means to be a lady. 

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You know that feeling, after you finish a book, where you know there are going to be mixed feelings about it from readers? Yeah, that is this book. I think this book should evoke the emotions you will likely feel upon completion. I also think it's vital to keep in mind that this book takes place in 1933 not 2017. Times were so beyond different then than they are now. We can't even comprehend it no matter how hard we try. So that's dipping into the unknown.

This historical LGBTQ story is told from Clarabelle (Clara) a girl from Oklahoma who moves to New Orleans after she is "outed" as a lesbian. Because her Preacher always warned her about New Orleans, a sinful place, she was excited to move there.

I want to bring to the forefront the descriptive writing in which the author, Liv Rancourt, brings to this book. I've never been to New Orleans but she really does take you there. I could hear the sounds, taste the foods, feel the bubbling excitement in Clara and those around her. Of course the other side of that is I felt the hatred. See, you think it's bad now for people who are deemed "different" by societies standards try going through it in 1933. The slurs do run rampant in this book from the F word even to the N word. It was a time where words like that were used like the word the. Though offensive to hear, it really put us in the place and time this tale is weaved.

Vaughn is a magnificent character. Gorgeous internally and externally. When she meets Clara it's like two puzzle pieces finding their connections. They fit. Thanks to Vaughn, Clara can truly see the world through new eyes. Too long Clara had heard the sinful side of her sexuality. Now she sees the beauty and with tender words and patience, Vaughn takes her to the place she belongs. Vaughn's story turns quite emotional and though hard to read it shapes this book and takes it in a new direction. One I felt we needed to see to truly understand the seriousness Vaughn faces daily.

Though this is a short story it does tell a meaty, touching, well written story of a time that was different and yet the same. Of course I wanted it to be longer because I wasn't done with these characters. This is a sweet addition to the Hours of Night Universe (which author Irene Preston also writes in) and we do see some familiar faces in this book.

This should be read by people with an open mind that you aren't reading a book set in this time but in a whole different one.

Guest Post

Thanks so much, Meredith, for having me back on Diverse Reader! I’m excited to be here, and to be sharing my story Change of Heart on its release day.

Change of Heart is an Hours of the Night story. It’s a distant prequel to the novels I’ve co-written with Irene Preston, although it’s a historical romance instead of being a paranormal/vampire story. The common thread is the vampire Thaddeus Dupont, who plays a key role in Change of Heart. His true nature is a secret, although I left a few clues to entertain readers who enjoyed the other books.
The other common thread between Heart and the other HotN books is the setting. The story takes place in New Orleans’ French Quarter, in 1933. New Orleans is one of my all-time favorite cities – in fact I’ll be heading there next week! – so digging in to what it was like in the Thirties was an absolute pleasure.

I learned that in those days, the Quarter was a rough neighborhood. New Orleans’ infamous red light district, Storyville, had been shut down in 1917, but some of the “businessmen” had moved their hook shops (whorehouses) and saloons into the Quarter. Also, Prohibition ended the year this story takes place, though no one paid much attention to that law and liquor was readily available.
Many of the houses in the Quarter had been built by the Spanish in the 18th century, and after about 1910, a large population of Sicilian immigrants made it their home. The Twenties saw writers and artists moving in for the cheap rent and the camaraderie they found in coffee houses and cheap Italian and Creole restaurants. Rising rents drove most of them out by the Thirties, ending the Quarter’s Bohemian moment, but their influence remained.

Music has always been important to New Orleans, with the wide-open clubs in Storyville providing a place for the cross-pollination of musical ideas. When Storyville closed, musicians found work at nightclubs in the Quarter, giving voice to the new sounds of the day. The French Quarter wasn’t a tourist destination like it is now, but it was a fascinating place, and I hope my story does it justice.
As I said, I’ll be traveling to the French Quarter in just a few days, mostly for vacation, but also to do research for the next HotN novel (lol!). I’ll be on the lookout for places Thaddeus and Sarasija might visit, so when the next book comes out, it’ll feel even more authentic.

Or, as authentic as a story about a demon-fighting vampire can get. You know?

Change of Heart is available from most ebook vendors at a special price of $0.99 until March 7th, so grab a copy now! And be sure to enter the rafflecopter giveaway Irene and I are running for a $10 gift card. Thanks again!


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