I have a secret to tell you. Do you want to hear my secret? Here it is. Addison Cain has a book that isn’t dark. I know, it’s shocking, especially if you have followed my blog and seen me review all her new books. But it’s really, really true. And more than that, she’s just renamed and re-released her book. It used to be called A Trick of Light, and now it’s been split up into the Trick of Light Duet, and the first book is called A Taste of Shine.
Addison pulled the story to do some polishing and added in some things here and there, but, as of yet, the story isn’t significantly changed. There are a few little details here and there, but nothing big, and there are places where the writing is tighter. And, of course, breaking it up into a duet. Having read the original book several times, I think that where Addison broke the story up is the perfect place for it. That point really does trigger a change in the story, so, like I said, perfect.
The story takes place in the hills and hollers of West Virginia toward the end of Prohibition. And like the name suggests, moonshine has a lot to do with this book. Moonshine has always been really important to the culture in that area, but it got even bigger during the Prohibition because everyone still wanted their booze. As a little bit of trivia, stock car racing and later NASCAR came out of the prohibition too, because the ‘shiners would want to get their booze to their customers as quick as possible and stay away from the cops and revenuers, so they would get their best drivers and tweak their cars as much as possible. Once Prohibition ended, those drivers had to do something, so stock car racing was born. Now you know a new thing.
So, we open to Charlie, a bounty hunter, pushing a dead car up and down the hills and hollers. Charlie can’t just abandon the car, because that would mean dumping the bounty in the trunk as well, and that just can’t be done, for so many reasons, including an intensely personal one. Luckily, some men drive by and one of them tells his cousin, Eli, to get out and help push the car, and they all end up at the Devil’s Hollow Roadhouse, owned by Matthew Emerson, local ‘shiner, and run with his brother Nathaniel and cousin Eli. Charlie offers to make a deal with Matthew, for use of a car and driver so that the bounty can be delivered, but no go. At least, no go until Charlie shot and killed men who were attacking the roadhouse and then fixed up Nathaniel’s arm when he had been shot. Matthew then offers Eli’s service to Charlie so that the bounty can be delivered to Sing Sing.
Fast forward a few months and it’s time for a barn dance, and of course, the Emersons are going to be there because it’s a great place to sell and Matthew has plans. While he’s standing in his shadowy corner, selling off his shine, he sees the golden girl walk in. She’s all bright and shiny and definitely doesn’t fit into their little hamlet. But, she’s all smiles and cheerfulness and joy as she gets all kinds of men lining up to ask her to dance, except for the town drunk who eventually shows up with a black eye. Matthew stares and glares at her the entire time.
The next day, the golden girl shows up at the roadhouse and tells Matthew that she would like his permission to stay. Of course, he has no clue on god’s green earth as to who she is. Nathaniel knows who she is, he caught on to her secret way back when she helped him dig a bullet out of his shoulder. Matthew seems shocked when he finds out that golden girl Charlotte Elliot is the same person as Charlie the bounty hunter.
And thus, all kinds of actions are put into motion.
I love this story for so many reasons, but you get to see Addison’s skill in building characters really well. I mean, her secondary characters are as distinct as her main characters. Sure, you don’t get as much backstory, but you know what Eli and Nathaniel are like, and you get their voices very strongly. The story is also set in a very real era and place, and you get the strong flavor of 1920s rural West Virginia. I know I’ve talked about Addison’s world building before, and this is all just part of it.
Talking about the characters, I have to tell you how much I love Nathaniel. Yeah, he’s a perpetual drunk, and is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, but he accepted Charlie from the very first. Mostly, he doesn’t do things that embarrass her, and he tries to make her feel comfortable. Nathaniel smacks Matthew and Eli around a couple of times, to get their heads out of their asses. He’s also very loyal and can keep a secret like no one’s business. He’s great comic relief and just fun. Eli, he’s like an adolescent puppy, not quite full grown, but not a baby anymore, just all elbows and knees and eagerness. Because he’s an idiot sometimes, he makes some stupid mistakes, and he does hurt people, because he’s an idiot.
Matthew. I love Matthew, but he’s really hard to get a read on. He’s very taciturn and doesn’t talk about emotions, let alone actually talk a lot. His love language is definitely action. You can see how feels about Charlotte by what he does for her, you know, other than kissing her a whole lot. He is very solid and sturdy. He’s a rock and a shelter. That’s just who he is. He’s also a planner. He has big plans for what comes after Prohibition ends.
Charlie/Charlotte is fascinating. She’s tough and fragile, crude and innocent, and pretty much a BAMF. She’s a sharpshooter, and goes out hunting on her own. She can tell the crudest, rudest, dirtiest jokes, but can actually be very polite in the right company. Her history really sets her up to be a very unique person. I would love to think that Charlie and I would totally have been friends.
I love the scene where some guys walk into the roadhouse wanting to start trouble and Charlie just casually knocks a couple of the guys on the head and then goes back to sitting in her rocking chair and lets the Emerson boys get back to their fight.
I love her relationship with Ruth, and how they are good for each other and help each other learn things they always wanted. And good for Ruth smacking Eli around as needed.
I can’t wait for the next part of this book. Go check it out! Happy reading!