Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list.
Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away–for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown–Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be.
The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless rum-runners—and the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie’s mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all.
The year is 1926 and 21 year old Laurie Burke is trying to hold her family together. Since her mother died ten years previously, Laurie’s father has found solace in whiskey. It doesn’t matter that prohibition is in effect. There are ways to obtain alcohol that circumvent the law, and Laurie knows her brother is one of her father’s suppliers. His reasoning is that their father will only look elsewhere if he doesn’t provide it, and what he ends up with might not be all that safe to consume. Furthermore, her brother wants Laurie to stay out his business. Her failure to do so, however, could jeopardize everything she holds dear including her home and her job.
Mistaken is Barnett’s excellent debut novel, which is partly based on stories her grandparents told about life in Washington during prohibition. It’s an easy book in which to immerse yourself in American life before the depression. Prohibition often brings to mind the mobster world of Al Capone and his associates, and books on the 1920s can emphasize the glamorous flapper life. Mistaken focuses on neither of these elements, but instead looks at ordinary lives in a small town and how they were impacted by the Volstead Act. Many of these ordinary people turned a blind eye to the bootlegging and speakeasies in their towns. They were more concerned about other events in their lives. Laurie is upset about her brother’s involvement in the rum-running, but her fears are that he’ll be arrested. Even when pressed to give him up, she’ll go to almost any length to not turn him in. There is a moralistic element to the story regarding the consumption of alcohol, but the lesson appears to be not so much about the perils of drinking alcohol but that people can change and turn their lives around. For the majority of characters, the main concern is when does doing the right thing cross the line between legally right and legally wrong? During the time of prohibition, that line definitely became blurred.
Thank you to Abingdon Press for an Advance Reader Copy of Mistaken, which I received in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 02 July 2013
Page Count: 352