Thursday, November 10, 2022

Excerpt and Giveaway: A Matter of Happiness

We're pleased to share an excerpt from Tori Whitaker's sophomore novel, A Matter of Happiness, today. Melissa is excited to read this one as she enjoyed Tori's debut, Millicent Glenn's Last Wish (reviewed here). Thanks to Get Red PR, we have one copy to give away!

Melanie Barnett thinks she has it all together. With an ex-fiancĂ© and a pending promotion at a Kentucky bourbon distillery, Melanie has figured out that love and career don’t mix. Until she makes a discovery while cleaning her Jordan MX car, a scarlet-red symbol of the Jazz Age’s independent women that she inherited from her great-great-great-aunt Violet. Its secret compartment holds Violet’s weathered journal—within it an intriguing message: Take from this story what you will, Melanie, and you can bury the rest. Melanie wonders what more there is to learn from Violet’s past.

Back in 1921 Detroit, Violet Bond is living in the fast lane during the automotive boom. But with her free-spirited friends, parties, and speakeasies, her life starts to spin out of control.

Alternating between the bourbon scene in present-day Kentucky and Prohibition-era Detroit, the story follows Melanie and her aunt–connected through Violet’s heirloom car–as their lives intersect and they both learn about love, freedom, and what it means to be a modern woman.

One thing that drew me to this book is how the historical thread is set in Detroit—effectively the Silicon Valley of its time, where people flocked to be part of the early automotive heyday. Called “a wild ride to remember” by acclaimed author Nicola Harrison, A Matter of Happiness is the perfect story for historical fiction fans to curl up with this November.


Inspired by the old journal entries, I’d known exactly what to choose for tonight: a place conjuring the spirit of Violet and Robert—a place for a modern woman having fun with a man. No attachments.

Our main event would be at Hell or High Water, a contemporary speakeasy that evoked the past and that didn’t post a sign.

Brian and I now walked along the sidewalk, with me as one half of a duo. Not a couple. It was little things I often missed about Jason . . . holding hands, cooking omelets together, watching Game of Thrones. But tonight wasn’t about my job or my ex, either.

I forced my brain to focus.

“The place is right along in here,” I told Brian, examining the display windows as we went. We were on the street down a ways from Louisville’s Whiskey Row, a block-long entertainment district that included a few distilleries. . . .

. . . .It might still be daylight outside, but in here the ambiance was dimly dark as if it were midnight. Okay, the place was a tad romantic. The building was a hundred years old, and the ceiling had ancient wooden beams, an iron fence on a mezzanine, and concrete floors with oriental rugs. A crystal chandelier contrasted with metal industrial lights. But what my friends talked about was the button-tufted leather seating—and the curving red velvet couches. On a Saturday night, this place could get as crowded as Little Henry’s in 1920s Detroit. Without the smoke.

“Is this okay?” the hostess asked.

“Perfect.” I’d reserved one of the red velvet couches, which were really built-in banquettes. Each one snaked in a U-shape around a low round table.

“After you,” Brian said.

The hostess laid down menus beside the flickering white candle. The bar’s logo—HOHW, for Hell or High Water—was on the front in stylized letters with an art deco vibe.

I sank into the thick cushion, leaning against tufted crushed velvet that ran higher than my head. I’d poured myself into my Seven7 jeans, and I thought that Brian noticed. He sat close—not on-top-of-me close, and still not we’re-holding-hands-now close—but close.

“So what do you recommend?” he said, perusing the menu. He sat with one leg resting atop the other at the knee.

“You’ll see that drinks are broken into categories. One of the main categories, the Hell section, has your drinks that are stiffer.”

Stiffer? Really? A Freudian slip.

“Stronger. Cocktails,” I said, sure I was blushing. “Stronger than the High Water selections.”

He said, “I’m actually feeling the section on HOHW Standards. I’ll be ordering the old sport.”

A Gatsby reference. I flipped to the page on HOHW Standards. The old sport had a single barrel rye, cognac, orange, coriander, dry curacao, and absinthe.

“Man, that looks like one I’d love,” I said.

Tori Whitaker is the bestselling author of Millicent Glenn’s Last Wish and A Matter of Happiness. She belongs to the Bourbon Women Association and the Historical Novel Society. Her work has appeared in the Historical Novels Review and Bookmarks magazine. Tori graduated from Indiana University, is an alum of the Yale Writers’ Workshop, and is recently retired from a national law firm where she served as chief marketing officer. She spent a decade in Detroit because of her husband’s career in the automotive industry. The two now reside near their children outside Atlanta and have been married for forty-five happy years. (Bio courtesy of Amazon.)

Visit Tori online:

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends November 15th at midnight EST.

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Listen to this book on Speechify!


Rita Wray said...

I like to read about days gone by and see the differences of our like today.

traveler said...

The lifestyle and culture of that era interests me greatly.

jtmswim said...

Thanks for the giveaway chance.

Carla S. said...

The lifestyle and fashions of that time interest me a lot.

Toni Laliberte said...

One thing I find interesting about the 1920s is the fashion.

Mary C said...

I like reading about the lifestyles of the past.

diannekc said...

The fashion and lifestyle of the Era.

bn100 said...


satkins said...

You are a new author for me- after reading the excerpt - you have me hooked-thanks

satkins said...

The thing that fasinates me about the 1920's era is the idea of prohibition and the speak easys and the gangsters that go along with this-also love the music from this era

Mary Preston said...

The fashion for sure.