Save time and skippity-do-da

Speak Easy - Melanie Harlow

Bullet Review:

About the best thing this book has going for it is that it's "not bad". And when talking about 90% of the schlock being published under the "New Adult" genre, this is practically a glowing recommendation.

If you like your historical fiction light on fiction and heavy on wangsting, second-guessing, and idiotic characters, then this is great for you. If you like your New Adult light on the psychopathic alpha-males, light on the sex, and heavy on the Grrrl Power, then you will also like this.

Otherwise, skippity-do-da.

Full Review:

Tiny O'Mara is purportedly a smart, independent woman, living with her widowed father and stuck caring for her two younger sisters while trying to raise enough money to go to nursing school. Oh, and she's also a bootlegger with a huge crush on "the sheik", Enzo, a sexy @$$ dude with sexy @$$ abs who makes her lady bits go wild (and her brain fly out the window).

Dear Old Dad does the wildly intelligent thing of getting into a bad business arrangement and a huge amount of gambling debt without letting his daughter know anything and then gets himself kidnapped. Now, Tiny must scrounge up 10,000 for Angel, Enzo's father. Meanwhile, she seeks help from childhood friend, Joey, who, shock of all shocks, is quite a sexy @$$ himself. Can she get her father back alive - and manage to score some hot bedroom action?

I think the Roaring Twenties are a deliciously decadent age. A lot of conventionally "naughty" things happened in this sequestered era of American history, and that's why I seek out books set in this time period (and run screaming into the hills if books are set 10 years earlier or later). This, coupled with the fact I got this FREEEEEEE is why I ended up reading it.

And, to be fair, this isn't bad. I've read reviews of other NA"novels" (read: sexfests and wankfests), and this book is not to be on the same level as these atrocities to the English language. I mean, the author is a decent enough writer. And I liked how Tiny wasn't ashamed of her sexuality, wasn't entirely a virgin, and didn't let herself get pushed around all the time. (Though she did enough that I wanted to smack my head into a wall.)

But I'm sorry, my compliments end there. Because I really can't make up any more kind things to say about this book. As a historical fiction book, it failed to capture the atmosphere of the era and make me think it wasn't just set in modern day with some 20's fashion. As a New Adult fiction, it barely touched on items that would appeal to that demographic - oh, and the sex didn't happen until the 90% mark (faaaaaaail!). As a novel in general, I found it rather boring and easy to set aside for other, more intriguing novels.

The characters are pretty flat and uninspiring. Tiny O'Mara made me want to start throwing things. I was appalled at how, in the middle of her father's kidnapping and needing to raise thousands of dollars, she could worry about looking like a Catholic girl to Enzo (because that would mean he had bested her?!?!???), could spend senseless pages (and money!) shopping with her girlfriends (who only appear to help her dress up and tell her how awesome she is or how sexy one of her boys are), could go back and forth whether she trusted so-and-so (and she does that all the time), and could angst, WHILE BEING HELD AT GUNPOINT, about Enzo being engaged. REALLY!?!? These are your priorities?! Not to mention, her brain seemed to fly out the window any time a set of sexy abs was nearby.

Enzo was a d-bag, though certainly not as bad as I've read. He does push Tiny around, but he doesn't force himself on her against her will. Still, he's definitely not trustworthy, and I can't believe how often Tiny has no trouble tossing her lot in with him.

I'm not sure why we must be subjected to third wheel, Joey. It's so obvious that Tiny won't end up with him - he's nice, makes dinner, is good with her younger sisters, and never once manipulates her. It's like reading about Jacob in Twilight; you knew damned well as soon as you met him that there was no way he stood a chance in hell of getting Bella, and that every scene with the two of them was stretching out the inevitable.

The other characters are lame with a capital L. Brighid was pointless, as the two other younger sisters (not to mention, the younger sisters whined too much like modern kids). Tiny's girlfriends, What's Her Name and Plot Point, were worthless. Plot Point could take her break from her department store job at any time?! Yeah right - sounds totally legit for a job in 1920's America! Dad was a horrible guy (and apparently doesn't learn his lesson - what a way to guarantee a series out of this book!).

But what takes the cake is the villains. Oh...my...gawd. They are...so bad. I've read middle grade and young adult fiction with better written villains. These villains A) sexually assault Tiny (because they can), B) bargain to get Tiny, C) are evil because they can't say words like "appreciate" and "fiancee", and D) devise stupid plots to take over businesses because everyone calls them stupid. I am not joking when I say that as I was reading this, I was thinking about all the middle grade and young adult books I read back in the day - those old Nancy Drews, Babysitters' Club, etc. - and how this plot would have fit in PERFECTLY (minus some random swear words and some sexy times, of course).

Speaking of sexy times, if you are reading to get some smut, look elsewhere. There are way more teasing scenes (where Tiny gets THIS CLOSE to having her cherry popped) than there are sex scenes, and when Tiny FINALLY has sex, it certainly wasn't waiting 90% of the book to get there.

I've said some harsh things, but really, this book just bored me. I wanted a spicy, sexy Twenties fiction. Hell, I would have taken a very campy Twenties fiction. Instead, I got a children's book dressed up with some swear words and some sex scenes and a wallpaper Twenties setting. Not the worst out there, but unless your expectations are low, I wouldn't recommend.