Book Tour and Review: Sweet Mercy

Prohibition….Gangsters….Bootleggers….Al Capone….and a 17-year-old girl named Eve Marryat who, in the tumultuous summer of 1931, learns the meaning of….
Sweet Mercy

Sweet MercySweet Mercy
by Ann Tatlock
Paperback, 400 pages
Expected publication: May 1 2013 by Bethany House Publishers
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When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge. 

St. Paul seemed like a haven for gangsters, and Eve had grown fearful of living there. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people.” They aren’t lawbreakers and criminals like so many people in her old neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve is blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is a transfer station for illegal liquor smuggled from Canada.

Eve settles in to work and makes new friends, including an enigmatic but affecting young man. But when the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. How can she ignore what is happening right under their very noses? Yet can she risk everything by condemning the man whose love and generosity is keeping her and her family from ruin?
What I thought:
This was a really enjoyable read! I loved Tatlock's writing style. It flowed nicely and I liked the whole feel of retelling a childhood story. It was somewhat of a simpler time and place. Descriptions of lazy summer days, good old-fashioned work and values, first love, and growing up.

This is the first book that I have read about prohibition. Eve and her father are very strong supporters of prohibition and the law. They have their reasons for being so. I struggled a little with Eve's black and white view and how she thought of those who sold alcohol as serious criminals and evil men, when many of them are just trying to support their families and, to me, it's just alcohol. However, we definitely live in a different time and she had seen the corruption and crime that came with bootleggers, as well as someone shot to death with her own eyes right down the street. It's hard for me to really imagine that and all the gangsters and their organizations. It was really interesting learning more about St. Paul and the bootleggers. I didn't realize that there were prohibition officers and had never thought about the risks and difficulties of enforcing prohibition.

Eve is a little naive in some ways, but she was a great character. She was super passionate about some things, such as her family, prohibition, and the island. Things change so much for her during this summer. She finds that no place is perfect and that you can find sadness and happiness anywhere. She also starts to realize that everything isn't as black and white as she would like to believe. She falls in love and has her heart broken for the first time. It was such sweet love too.

I really liked all the supporting characters. Jones, who is an albino and her cousin, is really interesting. Marlene and Jimmy, her friends who are young and in love, but who definitely don't have easy lives. Marcus, who Eve is sweet on. Morris and his wife, Annie, who work at the lodge. Eve's family, who felt like a genuine American family in many ways. Link was one of my favorite characters. I figured out something about him fairly early on, but I enjoyed seeing his role play out.

If you enjoy historical fiction, with sweet romance, and coming-of-age stories then I would definitely recommend this one!
Content: Some brief non-descriptive violence - clean
Source: NetGalley, tour host and author



The Setting Behind the Setting
of Sweet Mercy

I remember some years ago standing on the banks of Ohio’s Little Miami River with my father and my sisters, trying to imagine a place and a time that were gone now without a trace. We stood near the spot where my great-grandfather’s island had been, named Hoppe’s Island. In the 1920s and 1930s it had been quite the get-away paradise. People came from miles around to swim, boat, and picnic on the island, as well as to dance under the stars while bands played in the pavilion.

By the time I was born, all of that was gone, but I grew up hearing stories about Hoppe’s Island from my father. He had spent many happy summer days there as a child, swimming and boating and “fishing for crawdads.” I’m not really sure what happened to the place, but my best guess is that the island disappeared when the flour mill upriver went out of existence, as the island had been formed by the millrace. My great-grandfather also owned the mill, and met an untimely death there when he was caught in the waterwheel in 1944. Another family story I’d heard since childhood, though I shuddered to think about it.

I knew for a long time that I wanted to use Hoppe’s Island as a setting for a story, and finally that time came. By then, my father was elderly, weak and forgetful, but some of my last conversations with him were about his memories of the place. Dad was living with me by then, so as I worked on the story, I’d run up to his room and ask him details about the shore, the swimming area, the boats, the pavilion. He’d smile and tell me. His short-term memory wasn’t good—he couldn’t remember what he had for breakfast, or whether he’d even had breakfast--but he could easily go back to his childhood to tell me about a place that had meant so much to him.

Hoppe’s Island became Marryat Island in my story, and I tried to recreate it as accurately as possible with the information I had. Of course, I took some literary license as well. Dad didn’t recall much about the lodge, so the way it appears in the book is mostly of my own imagination. Neither was my great-grandfather a bootlegger, as far as I know, so I don’t believe the lodge was used as a liquor transport station during Prohibition. But I’ll wager there are still a few people alive today who will recognize Marryat Island as Hoppe’s Island. At least, I hope so.

Dad didn’t live long enough to read the finished story, but that’s all right. In a very real sense, he’d lived the story. His memories and a little bit of our family history are tucked into every page.

This one’s for you, Dad.

Ann TatlockAnn Tatlock is the author of the Christy Award-winning novel Promises to Keep. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association "Book of the Year" in fiction for both All the Way Home and I'll Watch the Moon.Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her "one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories." Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.

On this Tour... test your 1930's Gangster knowledge with our trivia quiz, a different question on every post!


2 Winners, USA only: Print copy of Sweet Mercy, Ghirardelli chocolate, book themed pen & notepad.

2 Winners, world-wide: eCopy of Sweet Mercy

Open only to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced on Rafflecopter and Grand Finale posts as well as emailed and the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Burgandy Ice @ Colorimetry and Prism Book Tours and sponsored by Bethany House Publishers and Ann Tatlock. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours 
April 15 - May 3, 2013:

15 – Launch!
16 – I Am a Reader, Not a Writer - What was Prohibition?
17 – JoJo’s Corner – Review
18 – Letters to the Cosmos – Review
19 – The Broke Book Bank – Guest Post Meet the Lawmen

21 – The Wonderings of One Person – Molls and other Dolls
 - Books Mystify – Review
22 – Tressa’s Wishful Endings – ReviewThe Setting behind the Setting
-  Momma Bear’s Book Blog – Review, Meet the Cast
23 – CTF Devourer – Review
 - Christy’s Cozy Corner – Fun Facts About 1931   
24 – ADD Librarian - Review
25 – Worthy 2 Read – Review
26 – Green Mountain Couple – Just a Taste (to wet your whistle)

28 – Backing Books – Review
29 – Celtic Lady’s Reviews  Four Famous Gangsters
30 – A Year of Jubilee Reviews – Review
1 – The Jack’s Junk Drawer – Review
2 – Living a Goddess Life – Review, Recipe
3 – Grand Finale

Disclosure: This review is of a book I was given for free by an author or publisher, or through NetGalley or Edelweiss. This in no way influences the opinions shared in my review. You may see my complete policy on the sidebar and on my policies page.

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