Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Story Snippet from Bell of the Night (Vanessa)

I recently read and reviewed and ARC of Bell of the Night by Allison Wells. Bell of the Night is a historical romance inspired by the Biblical story of Hosea. This book is an absolutely beautiful story that touched my heart and soul. Here's what it's about:

Bluebell was sold to Victoria Knight, a well-known Storyville madam, at the tender age of eleven. Now at nineteen, Bell is numbed to her life--until an optimistic preacher named Teddy Sullivan comes to New Orleans, intent on saving the sinful souls of the South.
Teddy is instantly drawn to the petite brunette with sad eyes and longs to rescue her. Bell, however, decides that saving her friends from selling themselves in the Storyville cribs is more important than saving herself. In a fit of selfless desperation, Bell convinces Teddy to marry her best friend, which Teddy agrees to do while cooking up plans of his own.
When a handsome and rich client offers to take Bell from the brothel, Bell thinks all her prayers are finally answered, until she is forced onto the street with nowhere to go.
If Bell isn't able to see that God loves her regardless of the path her life has taken, and Teddy can't help Bell get even more of her friends out of Storyville, both risk not only losing sight of God's plan ... but each other.
A compelling story of redemption, Bell of the Night is an unflinching reminder that no matter how troubled our past, we are never too far from the healing power of God's love.

For today's Story Snippet, I've invited the author, Allison Wells, to share with us her inspiration behind Bell's story!

The story of Bluebell came to me years ago after researching New Orleans and discovering the photos of EJ Bellocq (nudity warning if you look him up!). He photographed dozens of District Girls from the Storyville neighborhood. Storyville was the legal Red Light District in the Big Easy that was in operation until the end of WWI.
I was so intrigued by a particular girl in a fancy frock with long, flowing black hair. She looked so forlorn to me and I wondered what had led her to this life. I knew I had to write her story - and thus, Bluebell was born. 
This book wasn’t easy to write. How do you keep a story about a “soiled dove” clean of, well, filth? It took some creativity, but hopefully you’ll agree that this book tells a gripping tale without showing you all the dirty parts.
Here's a snippet:

“Mr. Sullivan, I would love to get out of here,” she said breathlessly, knowing she shouldn’t speak at all on the subject. But for some reason, she felt like she could open up to this man.
The man stood, dumbstruck. “Wait – you don’t want to be here? Truly?”
She choked back a chortle. “Who would choose this life? Madam Knight owns us. I hear slavery isn’t legal anymore, but she bought each of the girls here. I don’t know about the others, but I want to leave.”
“I’m baffled,” he said, scratching his head.
“That’s terribly sad,” he said. He looked as though he might cry, but perhaps it was just the moisture from the room.
“That’s my life, mister.”
“And you…you sleep with these men?”
“We don’t sleep much, Mr. Sullivan,” she said honestly.
Oh Jesus help her,” he exclaimed. “Since you were eleven?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And you had no say in the matter at all?”
“Of course not. None of us did,” she said. “Well, most of us at least. We were bought into it, or forced into it because of circumstances.”
“I’m sorry. I guess I had the wrong notion about these places,” he said. “I thought my mission was to come here and save all of you from this life. I thought you all had chosen it with gusto. Never did it enter my mind that you were forced to do…” He stopped talking and took a deep breath. “Well, I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, Mr. Sullivan.She tried to reassure him. “We’re used to it. I’m used to it. This is my life. And I like most of the other girls here. We are family.”
He went into his dressing room without speaking. She waited for him outside the door, not bothering to change herself.
When Teddy came out, he pressed a coin into her hand. “Please take this,” he whispered.
“But I did nothing to earn it,” she said with a quizzical look on her face.
“You talked to me,” he said. “That is all I want. Goodnight, Miss—“ He stopped. “I didn’t catch your name.”
“I never told you. Most men don’t ask.”

Bell of the Night releases today! To purchase a copy, click here

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