The 20's Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz by June Kearns

I loved "An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy" by June Kearns (see my review here) and couldn't wait to read something else she'd written. "The 20's Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz" is another beautifully written romance.

Gerardina - Gerry - Mary Chiledexter (yes, that really is the name of the heroine) belongs to the generation of women who were left short of men to marry after the First World War. The story is set in the mid-nineteen-twenties and begins in a rural backwater where Gerry runs a bookshop while living in gentile poverty. 

Her legacy from her Aunt Leonie is a collection of silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of out of date designer clothes, and, astoundingly, a half-share in a million-acre ranch in south-west Texas. 

Consequently Gerry meets Coop, the gorgeous Texan who owns the other half.

As this is a romance novel, the reader knows from the beginning what the outcome will be but Gerry and Coop are off to such a bad start that it is hard to imagine how they're ever going to get together. Once again, author June Kearns has devised a plot so full of twists and turns that even in the final pages it's hard to see how it will all be resolved. Every time you think you know what's going to happen the story takes a different direction.

There's a great cast of supporting characters amongst them deceased Aunt Leonie whose taste in clothes is extravagant and expensive; Gerry's friend Prim who lives up to her name; the Texans who are simultaneously intrigued and confounded by Gerry's appearance in their lives; and the apparently psychic feline, Igor.

As in "An Englishwoman's Guide to the Cowboy" each chapter is headed with a quotation from a period source, this time a magazine or newspaper clipping. I'm going to guess that these are imagined by the author but they feel authentic and provide a very effective structure for the novel.

The contrasting settings of the English Shires and the Texas outback are described in poetic detail as are the beautiful outfits Gerry has inherited from her aunt. This provides a subtle background for the text creating a well-developed sense of time and place.

Dialogue is crisp and economical although Gerry's inner voice is surprisingly modern. This works really well and gives the novel contemporary resonances.

Altogether, another excellent romantic novel from June Kearns. I can't say which of the novels I preferred: they're both five star reads of the highest quality and I'm looking forward to reading whatever she writes next. You can find details of both June Kearns' books on her Amazon Author Page.