The 20’s Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
What it’s about: Gerry is desperate for money. Her late aunt thought nothing of leaving their English village and sailing to parts unknown or taking up with a new love at the drop of a feathered silk hat. Along with mounting debt, Gerry has inherited her aunt’s stunning wardrobe and old bookstore. Unfortunately, Aunt Leonie ransacked the bookstore for valuable first editions to finance her lavish lifestyle. Now Gerry cannot repair the leaking roof or purchase much-needed inventory. But Gerry will hear nothing bad about the aunt who rescued her from the mother who abandoned her.
All is not lost, however. Apparently, one of Aunt Leonie’s conquests was a rancher in southern Texas. Gerry receives notification that she has inherited one half of this lover’s Texas ranch. The other owner, Coop, offers to buy Gerry out. Though this would solve all her problems, Gerry hesitates to sign until she has seen the ranch, her reluctance due in part to a psychic cat and her aunt’s whisperings from beyond the grave. Once in Texas, Gerry finds herself surrounded by an angry teen, a cadre of devious oil barons, a territorial would-be fiancée, not to mention the aggravating but attractive Coop.
Gruff Coop has a softer side though rarely visible beneath his rough manners; he does his best to live an honorable life and protect those depending on him. Gerry does not fully understand Coop or his blunt dismissals and bearish behavior, but an undeniable chemistry draws her to him and Aunt Leonie will do everything in her power to nurture Gerry’s feelings for Coop.
What I thought: As a ghost, Aunt Leonie is sweet, pragmatic, and funny. I love how she’s always there behind the scenes–or the furniture–to urge Gerry to step out of her mundane existence and take a chance on life and love. Another character I found hugely entertaining is Mrs. Applegarth aka Madame Athena, a clairvoyant “draped in beads and a lorgnette” Gerry rents space to for evening psychic readings. The readings bring in money, and the attendees offer Gerry much practical advice in matters of love.
Author Kearns strengthens the 1920’s setting with historical epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter such as this one: “Women approaching thirty may have lost all chance of inspiring affection” from Advice to Miss-All-Alone, 1924.
I had great fun reading about Gerry in Aunt Leonie 20’s designer fashions from Patou to Vionnet, embellished with guipure lace and tiny seed pearls, especially since the creations are ostentatious in Texas and outdated in England. Gerry often observes herself in social situations overdressed but out of style and with no alternative since she cannot afford to buy a stitch. Nor would she if she could, for she never feels closer to her aunt than when she is wearing her clothes.
This novel will interest people looking for a clean, no-sex romance and would make a fitting mother-daughter book club selection since it contains none of what some book bloggers termed “pink parts.” The Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz is not a chilling novel that will send you scurrying to check the deadbolts. Instead, you’ll find yourself warmed by non-traditional family ties and the sparks that fly when romance, along with a high-spirited ghost, is in the air.
If you enjoyed this review and would like more supernatural suggestions, please check out my anthology 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die.