Roses in the Devil’s Garden is a short and sublime little story set in New York City during the height of prohibition in the United States, when the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution made it illegal to manufacture, transport, sell, and consume liquor in America, but the Amendment did more than further the agenda of the American Temperance movement; it was also the catalyst for the swell of organized crime in the US, as well as fostering rampant corruption within law enforcement, which is often a side-effect that comes along when enterprising men exercise the ability to exploit power and human want for financial gain. There was no gray area in those days: there were good guys and there were bad guys, and sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between the two until you found yourself on the wrong end of a gun.
Agents Harlan Mackay and Nathan Reilly care about doing the job they were hired to do, even though they don’t care very much at all for the temperance movement itself or for the corruption it has bred. Their jobs involve nabbing the small fish that swim in the much larger pond of criminal activity, attempting to bait and hook the much bigger fish that remain in the shadows and who are the untouchables. Harlan and Nathan are two men who understand very well what it has meant to remain in the shadows in order to live their lives as they wish. In 1925, the very nature of their relationship was against the law, but six years after they met and shared their first kiss, in World War I France, their claim upon each other’s hearts is as strong as ever.
Or that was the case until a man from Nathan’s past, a man Nathan thought had died during the war, suddenly turns up in their precinct’s interrogation room, attempting to work a little information out of one of those proverbial small fish Harlan and Nathan had just nabbed in a speakeasy sting, and while Danny’s at it, he also tries to work his way back into Nathan’s life. Danny Brogan is Nathan’s childhood friend and his first love and he is a temptation the likes of which Nathan has not faced since he fell in love with and committed himself to Harlan. Danny is the Devil’s garden where temptation is the poisonous thorn on every rose, a poison that could very well kill what Harlan and Nathan have worked so hard to grow.
Roses in the Devil’s Garden was a first for me—the first time I’d read a historical romance constructed around the Prohibition, and the first time I’d read anything written by Charlie Cochet. It won’t be the last, guaranteed.
Every single thing about this book drew me in: the title, the cover, the setting, the time period, the writing style, and most of all, the men who populated the piece. Though it’s a short story and I didn’t get to spend much time getting to know Harlan and Nathan, I was immediately attracted to them, individually and as a couple.
This is the first book in a new series and it sets things up perfectly for a budding romance between Danny and Detective John Flynn, a man Harlan and Nathan literally talked down from the ledge of despair and a man I can’t wait to get to know better. There is also a secondary character, Julius, who plays a small but significant role in the story. I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’ll get his own book in the series as well.
My single biggest wish, though, is for the upcoming books in the series to be longer. Much, much longer.
Download Roses in the Devil’s Garden HERE.