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Two men yearning for more during the quiet desperation of the Great Depression find hope and romance at a July 4th carnival in rural Indiana.
In 1934, life in Brookburn, Indiana is quiet, simple, and peaceful, but young dreamer Levi Beckerman yearns for more. When the carnival shows up for the Fourth of July, he’s entranced by its many temptations. None is more seductive than the charismatic barker, Sebastian Gustineau.
Seb’s been a part of the carnival for almost a decade. Once, it provided him the escape he needed from a life he thought he didn’t want, but now, he craves things it can never offer. Flitting from dusty town to dusty town, he loses himself in pretty dalliances. Levi seems like the perfect distraction, until a single conversation convinces him that preserving Levi’s innocence and way of life is more important than his momentary satisfaction.
However, his plan to discourage Levi goes horribly wrong. When Levi’s family is threatened, Levi fights to protect them, doing what he can to hide the secrets he’s sheltered his entire life. The only person he trusts is Seb. He’s just not sure if the growing bond between them is enough to save them all.
I forgot how much I love Vivien Dean’s stories. Only a few of her last stories were rated in the 3-stars category by me. This one, though, reminds me why she is still one of my favorite authors.
Levi longs for a world where he could show his magic. Levi always fears that people in his town would find out about it, which often times makes him feel like an outsider. Seb comes to town along with the carnival. Although he has been with the carnival for a decade, Seb also feels slightly restless. Then he meets the innocent but courageous Levi who challenges the way Seb lives his life.
I love Levi’s innocent way but at the same time he is more optimistic, and brave, and determined. Seb is more seasoned but Levi knocks down Seb’s reasons (for not being together) piece by piece, Seb doesn’t stand a chance.
It’s rather sad that this historical, with a dash of the magical element, doesn’t get more attention. Maybe because of the publisher? Or maybe because it’s a sweet romance without too much smut? Nonetheless, I think the story is just charming. Ms. Dean’s prose is wonderfully captivating; I think the way she describes the carnival and the people are amazing, it feels lovely and slightly melancholy. Her characters come alive even with the novella length. And the story, although it only has HFN, was still wonderful, SO wonderful.
I really would love to read more about these two, to see how they embrace the ‘new life’.