IT STINGS SO SWEET

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This collection of three intertwined stories of forbidden desires in the Roaring ‘20s more than lives up to its name. The first story lacks a compelling connection to its historical setting, and its main characters aren’t overwhelmingly likable, but the other two are more than delightful enough to compensate. “When I’m Bad I’m Better” and “Let’s Misbehave” star nuanced, complex characters who are both strikingly modern and very much of their time, and the sex and the setting are both deliciously integrated into a larger story. The balance of sin and sweetness is as perfect as a Prohibition cocktail.

In “Love Me or Leave Me,” Nora Richardson must convince her husband that his hidden desires don’t make him a monster. Glamorous self-made movie star Clara Cartwright must decide just how much of her hard-won freedom she’s willing to give up to ace pilot Leo Vanderberg in “When I’m Bad, I’m Better.” In “Let’s Misbehave,” shop girl Sophie O’Brian must balance activism and acquiescence in an affair that could change her life forever. (BERKLEY SENSATION, Feb., 340 pp., $15.00)

Reviewed by: 
Jaysen Scott