Friday, March 1, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway - Temptation Rag by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

Book Synopsis
Seventeen-year-old May Convery, unhappy with her privileged life in turn-of-the-century New York City, dreams of becoming a poet. When she meets the talented young Mike Bernard, an aspiring concert pianist, she immediately falls in love. But after their secret liaison is discovered, neither is prepared for the far-reaching consequences that will haunt them for decades. As Mike abandons serious music to ruthlessly defend his hard-won title, Ragtime King of the World, May struggles to find her voice as an artist and a woman. It is not until years after their youthful romance, when they cross paths again, that they must finally confront the truth about themselves and each other. But is it too late?

The world of ragtime is the backdrop for a remarkable story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness. From vaudeville’s greatest stars to the geniuses of early African American musical theater, an unforgettable cast of real-life characters populates this richly-fictionalized historical saga.

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My Review
Temptation Rag is a historical novel that tells the story of May Convery and Mike Bernard over a number of years.  May is a 17 year old society girl in New York City.  Mike is a ragtime musician.  The book also is about ragtime and early African American performers in vaudeville and musical theater.

I was very intrigued by Temptation Rag because of the element of ragtime music.  I grew up playing the piano and loved playing Scott Joplin's ragtime songs.   Those songs were my main exposure to ragtime;  I was not familiar with Ben Harney or Mike Bernard or the other names mentioned in this book.  I love music, so I was very curious to learn more!   The music history aspect of this story is absolutely fascinating.   Although much of the story focuses on May and Mike, there is also the story of Mike Bernard, a classically trained pianist, and Ben Harney, a white musician who has learned ragtime from African American performers.

This novel features many characters, switching back and back from chapter to chapter, and it also sweeps through many years, from 1895 to 1943.  I found this interesting and thought the multiple points of view brought something unique to the storytelling.  At the same time, I found it a bit harder to build continuity and engagement as a reader because the point of view changed so often.

As a fan of historical fiction, I am very impressed with the wealth of historical details in this novel.  The author includes a chapter (Author's Note) at the end of the book with details about which characters were inspired by real people.  I was interested to learn more and looked online to read more about the real lives behind these characters.  That is a wonderful gift that historical fiction can give a reader ... a glimpse at another time and place that makes readers curious to know more.

Readers who are fans of historical fiction, music history, African American history, and women's history will enjoy Temptation Rag.   

Author Bio
Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is an award-winning author of historical fiction. Her novel The Beauty Doctor is a suspenseful tale that takes place in the early days of cosmetic surgery—when the world of medicine was a bit like the Wild West and beauty doctors were the newest breed of outlaw. Temptation Rag: A Novel immerses readers in the bawdy atmosphere of vaudeville and early twentieth-century African American musical theater in a story about the price of freedom, the longing for immortality, and the human need to find forgiveness.

Elizabeth currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their much-loved and very spoiled black Lab.


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During the Blog Tour we will be giving away copies of Bernard's other novel, The Beauty Doctor. One paperback and two eBooks are up for grabs. To enter, please use the Gleam form below.  

Giveaway Rules 
 – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. 

Temptation Rag 

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