by Janet Perroni

"Ava reflected on her trilogy of men and how she had made mistakes."

Ava is the daughter of a large Irish immigrant family in Boston who is looking for a husband in the afterglow of WWI. The Roaring Twenties are alive with possibility, forbidden passion, and impossible choices for Ava as she reckons with her burgeoning sexuality and the financial struggles of her immigrant family. When Ava succumbs to the sexual pressures of a soldier she meets at a dance, she gets pregnant, and he returns to his ship never to be seen again. Now an unwed mother, she must navigate a treacherous future on her own with lecherous men constantly offering money in exchange for her body. She gives sexual favors to her landlord to pay the rent, works as a nude model, and falls into a doomed affair with her employer’s son while working as a maid. Eventually, she settles down with an older man who is willing to accept her two illegitimate children as his own, and together they have more children. Ava’s lineage becomes her legacy.

Ava’s story is rich with historical detail and captures a woman’s choices through limited opportunities imposed on her by tradition and religion. Ava’s beauty and sexual allure are the guiding forces of her life and lead her to extremes of great sorrow and dazzling ecstasy. Perroni presents these highs and lows in lush, extravagant sexual detail, exploring themes of pleasure and power. This historical romance immerses the reader in Ava’s intimate world, transporting us to an age of desperation for many women trapped in taboos of the time. Perroni depicts the heavy price paid when women depart from societal norms and must rely on their beauty and bodies to survive. Perroni vividly describes Ava’s sexual escapades, heartbreaking choices, and ultimate reckoning with belonging.

Winner in the 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Romance Category.

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