I didn’t mean to write a 1920s romance and I certainly didn’t intend to set it what were once the rather nasty back alleys of Sydney. Today Surry Hills and Darlinghurst are highly sought after areas full of lovely terrace houses with lacey ironwork and the best restaurants and bars … that’s what did it, a trip to a bar called Love Tilly Devine. Needless to say I wanted to know who Tilly Devine was.
After a bit more investigation and the release of an ABC TV program I was hooked. Tilly Devine and her “friend” Kate Leigh were the two madams who ruled the Sydney underworld in the 1920s and 1930s largely due to a law that said only women could run “boarding houses” — big mistake on someone’s part. They cornered the sly grog, cocaine and prostitution markets. Then the powers that be made another mistake and introduced a law banning guns. It led to the birth of the Razor Gang Wars. Not a pretty time but romance flourishes in the strangest of places.
Jazz Baby tells the story of Dolly Bowman, a fresh-faced country girl who arrives in the big, dark city – and risks everything in the pursuit of her dreams.
I became so hooked on the era that I wrote a sequel to Jazz Baby The Wages of Sin. It’s in the pipeline but I can’t say anymore without spoiling Dolly’s story!
Sydney is no place for the fainthearted – five shillings for a twist of snow, a woman for not much more, and a bullet if you look sideways at the wrong person.
Dolly Bowman is ready and willing to take on all the brash, bustling city has to offer. After all it is the 1920s, a time for a girl to become a woman and fulfil her dreams. Turning her back on her childhood, she takes up a position working as a housemaid while she searches for her future.
World War I flying ace Jack Dalton knows he’s luckier than most. He’s survived the war with barely a scratch, a couple of astute business decisions have paid off, and he’s set for the high life.
But a glimpse of a girl that he had forgotten, from a place he’s tried to escape suddenly sets all his plans awry. Try as he might he can’t shake the past, and money isn’t enough to pay the debts he’s incurred.
Here's a quick excerpt:
Heeled shoes tip-tapped on the black and white floor tiles and she gaped at the vision framed in the narrow hallway. A shiny black, beaded dress, fringed and tasseled, stopped almost at the woman’s knees and her long slim legs, encased in the sheerest silk stockings, led to the most elegant ankle strapped shoes ever seen. Smoothing her hands down her brown worsted coat, Dolly blinked and peered at the woman. Her bobbed hair lay like a waved helmet on her head and the ribbon holding it all in place looked like a fine bandage.
The woman stopped halfway down the hall and gave a little shimmy. “Well hello! What have we here?”
“I’m here to see Mrs Mack, about the job.” Dolly screwed up her face cringing at the squeaky sound of her voice.
“Oh! A new girl. How exciting!” Lifting her hand to her mouth the woman dragged on a cigarette in an ivory holder, then exhaled a cloud of perfect smoke rings making Dolly’s eyes water.
“Darling!” The woman called down the hallway, “Come and meet the new girl.”
Téa Cooper divides her time between Sydney and the nineteenth century village of Wollombi, in the Hunter Valley of NSW Australia. When she isn't writing, Téa can be found haunting museums or chatting to the locals, who offer a never-ending source of inspiration. Her first two rural historical romances, Lily’s Leap and Matilda’s Freedom are set in and around Wollombi and Jazz Baby involves both Sydney and Wollombi.
In February 2015 Forgotten Fragrance the first book in a family saga entitled From the Ocean to the Outback, is due for release and there is a sequel to Jazz Baby entitled The Wages of Sin in the pipeline. At the moment Téa is working on a parallel time-line series entitled The Adventures of Miss Abigail Wynter and an Australian Regency – The Great Platypus Hoax. She has also written three Australian contemporary romances.
Publication Date: October 22nd, 2014