Publisher: New Sands Studio Press
Date of publication: May 28th, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction, LGBTQIA
Juliana — Book 1
Olympus Nights on the Square—Book 2
Paris, Adrift—Book 3
Heaven is to Your Left—Book 4
Where you can find this book: Amazon
She went looking for fame, and found her true self, instead.
New York City, 1941. Alice “Al” Huffman and her childhood friends are fresh off the potato farms of Long Island and bound for Broadway. Al’s plans for stage success are abruptly put on hold when she’s told she has no talent. As she gets a job to pay for acting classes, Al settles into a normal life with her friends and a boyfriend. It all changes when she meets Juliana.
A singer on the brink of stardom, Juliana is everything Al isn’t: glamorous, talented, and queer. The farm girl is quickly enthralled, experiencing thoughts and feelings she never realized were possible. Al finds herself slipping between two worlds: the gay underground and the “normal” world of her childhood friends. It’s a balancing act she can handle until the two worlds begin to collide
In a city bursting with change, can Alice find what she was looking for all along?
This book fooled me. I honestly thought, by reading the blurb, that it was going to just be a book on what it was like to be gay/lesbian during the early to mid-1940s. Which it does in a stunning way. But, this book also about a young girl finding herself and falling in love in a time that was turbulent. And I loved it.
I absolutely loved Alice (Al). Her transformation from this naive little country girl too, what one character called her, a New York girl was amazing. Her acceptance of the gay/lesbian scene and later on, of her own sexuality was brutally honest for that time period. Also brutally honest was how people perceived gays/lesbians during that time. Several scenes (Al finding out that Danny was having an affair with Max, Al being told about Shirl’s beating and rape, meeting Andy and the heartbreaking end to Al and Aggie’s friendship) outlined that.
Her relationship with Juliana was bittersweet. Al was in love with Juliana and Juliana, well, she considered Al one of her conquests. Al was warned about Juliana from several people (Max, Victoria, Shirl) but still sought her out. Even Juliana warned Al about falling for her. Of course, Al doesn’t listen to anyone and ends up losing her heart.
The sex scenes were very tastefully done and the author always ended the chapter before it got too graphic.
The end of the book was great and I loved the twist at the very end. I also loved that with the way the book ended, you knew that there would be a Volume 2. That is something that I cannot wait to read!!!
The afterwords from the author were great. She explained why she wrote the book, why she chose the 1940’s, went into the gay scene in the late 1920s-1930s in Greenwich Village, what it was like in the 1940s for gays/lesbians, and gave a detailed account from a woman who had homosexual friends in the 1940s. She also included a glossary of sorts of terms for gay/lesbian in the 1940’s….which answered a few questions I had while reading. Take for instance the term “beard“. In that time period, it was used to describe a woman who posed as a girlfriend or wife for a gay man so his homosexuality was not revealed. She also included a complete list of references that she used while writing the book and a guide if a book club would discuss it.
I would give Juliana an Adult rating. There is sex. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.
I would reread Juliana. I would recommend it to family and friends.
**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**