REVIEW – Moonshine by Tess Oliver

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Title: Moonshine
Author: Tess Oliver
Release Date: May 17, 2015



Having been ‘dry’ long before Prohibition, locals living in Virginia, along the base of the Blue Ridge mountains, had a head start on the moonshine business. And when the country craved something to quench its thirst, the Tidewater bootleggers were ready.

In his small hometown in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Jackson Jarrett is known as a decorated war hero, a damn successful bootlegger and a man who never gives his heart to anyone. Personal tragedy and fighting on the front line in France have left Jackson scarred and hardened to the notion of falling in love until the traveling carnival with its colorful tents, exotic side shows and Charli Starfield, the beautiful and fearless motorcycle stunt rider, rolls into town.



Moonshine is a delightful historical romance that will whisk you away to prohibition era Virginia and have you caught up in Charli and Jackson’s unique love story. This couple had a great chemistry right from the start. Charli’s outspoken nature and the way she so easily handled Jackson’s flirtations made for some hilarious banter and plenty of tension. The push and pull between these two characters was electric and kept me reading to see how their story would play out. Throw in Charli’s eccentric circus family and Jackson’s moonshining business and there are plenty of interesting secondary characters to fill out this fictional world. I loved that Tess Oliver incorporated not one, but two settings beyond the mainstream, to tell this tale and I found myself hooked by the prohibition and circus storylines and how they intersected so seamlessly in this book.

“He looked one part city boy, one part country boy and one part trouble.”

Charli was a fun heroine to get to know. She was feisty, fearless, and part of an unconventional lifestyle that was fascinating to explore. A female motorcycle rider for the circus, she could hold her own with all manner of men, making her the perfect match for the charming playboy, Jackson. I enjoyed getting to know Charli’s backstory and appreciated how Tess Oliver included inklings for something more than a life on the road throughout the book, leading Charli towards Jackson as the story progressed. Jackson was definitely book boyfriend material. He was smart, attractive, funny, and driven with a swagger that definitely caught my attention. Even though we get to see Jackson’s heartbreak at the beginning of the story, I wished he had gotten into it a bit more extensively with Charli. I felt like their relationship needed a deeper emotional component in order to really sell me on their whirlwind romance.

“More sugary words, Jackson Jarrett. You’d better watch yourself, otherwise you’ll sweep this Enchantress right out of her glitzy shoes.”

Tess Oliver’s writing is vibrant and colorful, bringing the era to life from the pages. I could envision the sights, smells, and sounds of the fictional world she created and found myself instantly transported back in time. Having never read anything by this author before, I enjoyed her voice and ability to balance vocabulary authentic to the time with the fluid writing style of today – somehow making this period piece a relatable story. I enjoyed the added excitement of Jackson’s illicit activities as a moonshiner and the secretive world of gangsters he found himself involved in. As my one real issue with the story was the slower pace, I would have liked a bit more of that drama and excitement woven throughout the book in order to balance the leisurely build-up of events between Charli and Jackson. With Moonshine, Tess Oliver has written an entertaining and enchanting historical romance that proves just how timeless true love is.


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