Highlighting Historical Romance with Denise Devine and the facts behind The Bootlegger’s Wife.
The house in The Bootlegger’s Wife is actually a residence in St. Paul, Minnesota that belongs to someone I know. For years, every time I visited, my writer’s mind kept thinking about how much I wanted to include it in a book. I’d wander from room to room taking pictures of the high ceilings, massive French doors and leaded-glass windows. One day an idea for a 1920s novel clicked in my head and it wouldn’t let go until I’d written up a six-page outline. That story sat for two years because I had other commitments, but it was always in the back of my mind. Then one day I knew I had to get this story done. By that time, however, one book had developed into three. I named the main characters after my grandparents, Charlotte Esther Smith and William Charles Van Elsberg.
Most of my research of the period came from the Minnesota Historical Society in their online library and their bookstore. My favorite book was “Minnesota 13” by Elaine Davis about bootlegging in Minnesota and the world-renown whiskey that was produced from a variety of corn (#13) developed at the University of Minnesota. It was difficult for farmers to make a living at that time because prices had fallen so low after the war. Ordinary people began “makin’ moon” to feed their families. There were two rural towns in Stearns County where every landowner was in the moonshine business.
Many nights I stayed up late pouring over Google maps, recipe books, YouTube videos, and streetcar routes. I learned so much about the era that it started to feel like I’d lived through it!
About the Book
It’s 1925 in St. Paul, Minnesota, a haven for hardened criminals—and the women who find themselves trapped in a dangerous game…
Charlotte LeDoux’s nine-year marriage to bootlegging kingpin, Gus “Lucky” LeDoux, is falling apart. The same day Char learns she’s pregnant, she catches Gus in the act of adultery and it’s clear he has no intention of ending the affair. Soon after, their night club is raided by Federal agents. As she flees from the chaos, Char becomes separated from Gus and she’s faced with a choice: search out her fugitive husband or change her identity and disappear. With her life in shambles and her future in doubt, she knows what she must do to protect her child.
Char alters her appearance and takes a job in domestic service for a private investigator. At first, living in Will Van Elsberg’s home is quiet, comfortable and safe, but everything changes the day Gus seeks out Will to find his missing wife. As Will’s investigation closes in on her, Char must once again make a decision. Should she run away again or face her violent husband and fight for her freedom? With her back to the wall, Char discovers she has more strength and determination than she ever thought possible.
Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited
As I hurried through the inky darkness in sloshy T-strap shoes and a wet dress, I gradually felt no discomfort, only a strange sense of calm. Pulling my shawl tighter around my shoulders, I thought about what I’d do next. I had no idea where my husband was—in jail perhaps or…dead. Knowing Gus, he was still alive. He hadn’t earned the nickname “Lucky LeDoux” for nothing. To my astonishment, however, I didn’t care one way or the other. I only knew that I couldn’t live this life anymore—as a bootlegger’s wife.
The thought of leaving Gus terrified me, but at the same time, it gave me a sense of hope for my baby’s future. Sadly, I knew better than to believe things could go back to the way they were before Prohibition when Gus worked in his father’s brewery. Once the Volstead Act passed—the eighteenth amendment—the LeDoux Brewery had been forced to shutter its doors, destroying the family income and causing his father, Rene Sr. to suffer a fatal heart attack. Gus’ deep-seated anger at the government for devastating his family and the folks who’d depended upon the brewery for their livelihood had fueled his decision to forge ahead despite the risks. Enlisting many of his former employees, he’d formed a new operation bootlegging Minnesota whiskey and operating La Coquette.
Now, he was a criminal, wanted by the Feds…
Before Prohibition, Gus and I had lived a simple life as an ordinary couple and we were happy together. Nowadays he preferred collecting barrels of money and spending it on women and other sinful pleasures more than he loved me. Even so, he’d never let me go if he discovered I planned to leave him—especially in my present condition. This I knew without a doubt.
Albert’s lifeless form flashed through my mind and I shuddered, wondering if I would ever feel safe again. My eyes smarted with tears. I couldn’t bear the thought of subjecting my child to the perilous life my husband had chosen.
I had two choices—locate Gus and live in constant danger or start a new life for myself and my unborn child. Casting apprehension and excuses aside, I told myself I needed to follow my instincts and do what would be best for my baby. It didn’t take long to choose my path.
Charlotte LeDoux had ceased to exist.
About the Author
Denise Devine is a USA Today bestselling author who has had a passion for books since the second grade when she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. She loves all animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, and they often find their way into her books.
She has written sixteen books, including books in the Beach Brides Series, The Perfect Match Series and the Hawaiian Holiday Series. Besides the USA Today list, her books have hit the Top 100 Bestseller list on Amazon and she has been listed on Amazon’s Top 100 Authors.
If you’d like to know more about her, visit her website at: https://www.deniseannettedevine.com or join her VIP list today to get the scoop on free books, new releases and lots of goodies at http://eepurl.com/csOJZL
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This is a photo of my grandmother, (Charlotte) Esther Van Elsberg. I can’t find the original image so I don’t know exactly when this was taken, but it had to have been in the late 20s or early 30s. Notice the two different treads on the tires, LOL! She was born in 1902 and was a very independent woman until she got married. She had a job and learned to drive a car.