Jericho Road – a Novel – Icy Snow Blackstone
Reviewers: She Said – Gloria Lakritz / She Said – Penelope Adams
On Jericho Road, the lives of the Conyers and the Brights have been entwined since the War between the States, but as the South emerges into a new Way of Life, the scars of a more recent war will soon tear the two families apart.
Wade Conyers’ return from Vietnam should have been a joyous occasion but instead it brings conflict as his relationship with an African-American soldier threatens his recent marriage to a South Carolina socialite. His newly-acquired views on racial equality and his attempts to entice foreign trade to his home town also put him at odds with his father, a bigoted and prominent businessman.
Younger brother Heath is caught up in rebellion. Just emerging into manhood, he’s an impatient virgin eager to taste life, and heading for trouble in the form of his new sister-in-law, and town tramp, Gaylene Bright.
Wade’s sister Lindsey has fallen in love with a half-Native American doctor, sent to this small Central Georgia town to work off his student loan. Her affair with Logan Redhawk which will rip away the shield of normality and reveal secret lives, adultery, and the violence of murder.
When the smoke clears, the inhabitants of Jericho Road will never be the same.
2nd Place: Contemporary Romance – PRG 2012 Reviewer’s Choice Awards
GLORIA LAKRITZ – SHE SAID:
Wow, Icy Snow Blackstone has been one of my favorite romance authors. She has always been the lighter, fluffier voice to her alter ego counterpart Toni V. Sweeney, who has been the harder hitting voice in her stories of fantasy and romance, with sometimes less on romance and more on the darker side. So let me tell you how surprised I was (in a good way) when I started reading Jericho Rd!
Jericho Rd is a story that timelines the South in the 1970’s where Happy Days of the 60’s and the Fonz are over. America is in Vietnam and times in the Old South are a changing!
Jericho Rd is in a small Georgia town that houses Conyers and the Bright families. Wade Conyers lV, is due home momentarily, newly married to Marcella. Wade met her four years ago as he was being shipped out to Vienam. She is a North Carolina girl, and waited through four years of letters for Wade to return. His Daddy is Wade Hampton Conyers lll, an old southern bigot, and a business man.
Young Wade has a brother, Heath, just finishing High School, the world at his feet, and very confused about what is happening in the world of today. Lindsey, his sister, is the opposite of what she should be. She leads a very simple life but is not the snobby, air-head you would expect. There is something there when you meet her. Lastly is Mrs Conyers, Norma, the Momma. She is a quiet, introverted, stay at home woman…just what you would expect with the times.
You would think that these children’s values would be just like their daddy’s, but to our surprise and his as well, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Wade is looking to bring new business to the community, more jobs, fair pay and since his daddy is against it, partners with a friend who is Jewish. Did you see his Daddy’s head spin round???
At the hospital there are two new Interns. Lindsay meets Doctor Logan Redhawk, as she needs medical attention, and that is all she wrote for both of them. I am not sure what attracted her at first, maybe he was just so good looking. For him, new to this town, he was just looking for a night, or a weekend, or whatever. He is half Native American, half white born, and raised in upstate NY . His mother was from the south and lost her family when she up and married an Indian (Injun), and a Northerner no less, who now is a well-known artist.
Logan got some financial aid for minorities to help with Medical School and has to fulfill time to pay it back, hence that is why he and fellow Doctor Rene ……….., are stuck there working off their loan. Surprisingly Wade and Heath have no problem with Logan seeing their sister, but Daddy is acting like Hell just froze over.
So, does this sound like a great Southern romance, balmy nights, southern hospitality? It could have gone that way, but you can never under estimate the workings of the mind of this wonderful author. Icy Snow Blackstone takes us on a ride of the worst that can happen when the times are changing, families have hidden bigotries, and when a young man comes home to the safety of his family with the nightmares of war.
As I write this, believe me I am trying not to utter one spoiler if I can help it. It so fully captivated my day, this story so charged with emotion, fear, and heartbreaking sacrifice, it really moved me so. I truly think you might wish to invest your time as well.
This read is such a pleasant surprise.
Review by Gloria Lakritz
Sr Member and Review Chair for the Paranormal Romance Guild
PENELOPE ADAMS – SHE SAID:
In the south Georgia town of Sardis Crossing, the Conyers’ are as close to royalty as there is. They own most of the land on Jericho Road, and have been leaders in the town since the days before the War of Northern Aggression. Things move slow in the south, and even though its 1970, Sardis Crossing still remembers the glory days and is fighting to keep things as they have always been. But even in the deep south you can’t stop change, no matter how painful or hard it may be.
No one could have guessed that the winds of change would come in the form of twenty five year old Wade Hampton Conyers The Fourth, who returns from 4 years in Vietnam with a new bride and as a changed man with different views than he left with. Wade’s return will shake up not only his family, but that of the Bright family who have worked for the family and lived on family land since before the red headed arsonist burnt his way through the south, their ancestor, helped to keep the Conyers family home from destruction earning a place in the Conyers world. These two families will stand and fall together.
Dr. Logan Redhawk is half Mohawk and is paying off his student debt by working at Temple General Hospital, waiting for the day he can leave. He is caught up in the firestorm, and will regret and rejoice the day he met the inhabitants of Jericho Road. No matter how hard the families on Jericho Road try to stop the clock, it will tick on, change is coming and no one will be the same afterward.
Ms. Blackstone turns back the clock and takes us to a time in the south when life as most people knew it was being torn apart, struggling between wanting progress and wanting their lives to stay as they have always been. It is not the south’s finest hour and Ms. Blackstone pulls no punches, she shows the dirty underside of this old belle’s skirts and it is not a pretty sight.
The Conyers family is typical small town royalty, they have been loved and feared by most for so long that they have actually come to believe that they are better than everyone else and nothing can touch them. Like all ruling families though, there is a dirty secret or two that they sweep under the rug. When they fall, they fall hard and heaven help anyone who gets in the way, because they are not going down alone.
Hamp and Norma Conyers are stereotypical wealthy southern parents. Hamp is a domineering, prejudiced, egotistical man who thinks everyone should think his way and do as he says. Norma is the perfect mate for him, well groomed, well spoken she defers to Wade and flutters around seemingly without a thought in her head.
Wade saw things in Vietnam that changed him, he became close friends with a black soldier who served with him and while his feelings for his lost friend confuse him, they taught him that people are people no matter their color or family background. These are not feelings his new bride Marcella has, and his efforts to seek closure leave her questioning his love for her. She turns to younger brother Heath, who up to this point has been the hippie of the family, yet there is a dark side to his carefree nature. Sister Linsey is the most balanced of the children, like Wade she sees people as people, and when she is attracted to Dr. Redhawk she sees no reason they shouldn’t pursue a relationship.
Dr. Redhawk was raised by his white southern mother and his Mohawk father up north, He knows a relationship with Linsey is not smart, but he falls hard and fast, and despite his best efforts gets caught up in the family drama. The Bright family is mixed into this dysfunctional family through generations of loyalty and will play a part in the fallout to come.
As a southerner of this generation, this was not an easy book to read. I got caught up in the time and before long the Conyers and company had me deep in their net. Ms. Blackstone doesn’t give the reader a pretty little picture of idyllic life in the south; she gives us scandal, awful hatred and prejudice and then masterfully pulls us into these people’s lives. There are scenes that are violent and painful to read, but are spot-on for the time. There are bedroom/field/car/garage sex scenes that while not graphic, aren’t for the prudish. I was enthralled, appalled, sad, and angry and exhausted by the time I finished reading, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Review by Penelope Adams
Member of the Paranormal romance Guild Review Team
Now that the reviewers have read each other’s thoughts…
What a surprise Penny. Icy Snow Blackstone/aka/Toni V Sweeney has written a new book very different from her others. Where we have been in a Romance and Fantasy Romance genre with her writings, Jericho Rd has taken a darker turn with wonderful results. Written in a time line of 1970 in Atlanta, a very changing time for America and the South, she has brought forth a very strong story.
She really pulled one off in this one. I’m used to her as Toni Sweeney breaking my heart and as Icy Blackstone making me smile, I think she must have had some sort of brain meld between her two personalities and introduced us to someone else. While this book was set in the south, anyone who lived through the late sixties early seventies will recognise the issues and those young wippersnappers among us might even get a little history lesson. Ms. Blackstone brought the time and place to life so vividly that there were times I hung my head in shame, but I was also so proud of Wade and Lindsey that I quickly perked right back up.
You saw that times were changing, that the die hards of hatred were there and probably they still are now, entrenched in the same bigotry. Lindsey, Heath and Wade Four were the new South. Logan saw it from a different perspective, being the son of a southern young lady whose parents threw her out, ashamed of the man she married. He was a Mowhawk Indian, so therefore not white. So many lost their families during those times. The small ghettos in NYC where I grew up, had lines parents asked you not to cross, but the KKK was not involved and many who crossed those lines were still not abandoned.. The war played a large part in this story both good and bad. Wade four, the apple of his Daddy’s eye might not have been as open minded if he had not seen the world. His relationship with a black man both gave him the strength to see everyone was the same. It also plagued him that this young man died for him.
There were a lot of issues being tackled in this book, not only did it show the racial problems but there was the class difference in the Conyers and the Brights and the treatment of women. As I said in my review, this is not always an easy book to read, its not light and fluffy but it is a good story and kept me engaged. Can’t wait to see what Ms. Blackstone/Sweeney has up her sleeve next.
Good Night, Gracie
Yanno George, the best thing that can happen to us is when this review uploads we will be reading Book 4 in the kan Ingran series. I cannot wait to get me some Aric reading time, For those of you who have not indulged, Sinner, Exile and Return are a sensational read…. Just sayin’
Q&A with author Icy Snow Blackstone
This is a departure for you, a much darker story line than the norm for you. Is there a story behind it???
Not really. I had probably just seen some how on TV about decadent Southerners (which, I think, is how the rest of the nation still views us) or been thinking about the original Dallas or something. I just remember thinking “what would happen if a part-Indian doctor with a best friend who was a European black man, suddenly found himself in the Deep South and in love with a white Southern girl?”
Did you see this story from the beginning or did the story and characters play this one through?
As usual, I had a bare outline but as I began to write, the characters changed from my original definition. I even tried to give my two “villains” some sympathetic sides, by explaining Hamp’s poor sex life with Naomi and showing Earl’s light-hearted bantering with Cleo.
I know you are from the South. Have any of your southern family read the book and if so, how did they feel about you pulling aside the curtain?
As far as I know, none of my family ever reads anything I’ve written. At least, if they have, they haven’t let me know about it. I’m kind of the Black Sheep in the family (in spite of being blonde). And there’s a story there, too, but I’m never going to tell it!
If this were made into a movie, who would you see play the leads?
Hmmm. Have to think on that one. Let’s see:
Logan – Alex Meraz (“Paul” from Twilight:Breaking Dawn)
Lindsey – Emily VanCamp (from Revenge)
Wade – Armie Hammer
Heath – Tyler Posey (of course, he and Armie would have to bleach their hair since Wade and Heath are blonds)
Hamp – Philip Seymour Hoffman (I’ll bet he can do a great Southern bigot!)
Rene – Wesley Jonathan
Very Interesting Choices Ms Sweeney…Hope it becomes a reality…Thank you so much for your time. We so look forward to reading more and more from you…Just keep them coming.