Shona Jackson is a woman running scared from a past that will haunt her for the rest of her days. Shona runs straight into 1950’s small town Alabama with all of its prejudice and danger on her way to California. When she manages to secure a home with Tom and Ruby Bird, and employment with the kindly Jeffrey Ellis at his local business, things are looking up… until Shona meets the other half of Ellis and Bruce Machinery, Larry Bruce. Larry’s influence is felt strongly amongst the town and he surrounds himself with men as cruel and corrupt as himself like Kyle Chambers… and with his beautiful daughter Chloe, just returned after graduating college.
As Shona tries to keep her head down and fight her growing discomfort around Chloe Bruce, she gains allies in elderly colleague Elbie, and the sole black employee at Ellis and Bruce, Cuban. When Chloe and Shona meet outside work by chance, something is kindled in Shona that makes her fearful, and this fear grows as Kyle claims possession of Chloe through arrangements with Larry and his wife.
As Shona’s past edges closer to her present, can she keep herself and her friends safe from the hatred and hostility they face? And what will become of that nagging feeling in her gut whenever Chloe Bruce is around? Meet Me At 10 is a moving story of what it was like to be dangerously different in a time and place full of prejudice and hatred that will haunt you long after you put it down.
Almost immediately you can sense that the character of Shona is going to change your life. Shona is written as a soft butch, and the more you get to know her, the more you will love her. Initially a loner, the mysterious stranger in town, Shona quickly makes a few trusted friends that stay with her throughout this story, and each of those characters ekes out something from Shona that we didn’t already know. A believable character with a tragic past and strength of character rarely seen even in today’s society, Shona is definitely my favourite character in Meet Me At 10.
That being said, Chloe is equally important to this story, and just as well written as Shona. Jones and Hackney have created two main characters who offer something for everyone, and Chloe’s femme persona comes across as strong but subtly so. As the story moves forward, Chloe’s strength becomes more apparent, and in both her personal and professional interactions you get a sense that Chloe is someone you would always want on your side.
Beyond Shona and Chloe, Jones and Hackney have produced an array of wonderful characters, some despicable and some loveable. Meet Me At 10 is full of characters that are believable, and I love that each of them come to life the moment you meet them.
The Writing Style
Meet Me At 10 is a perfectly paced story that will transport you to a time and place that will make you hurt in a way that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Jones and Hackney have perfectly captured the pain and fear experienced by both racial minorities and the LGBTQ community living in the 1950’s American South, and there are several events in the book that take you to that place. The way Shona’s character is revealed throughout the novel is exceptional, and left me unable to put this book down.
The premise for this book had me interested immediately – a woman running from her past straight into 1950’s small town prejudice… and I was not disappointed. Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney have forged an excellent partnership that has borne beautiful fruit. I was left bruised at times, scared at others, and walked away feeling hopeful that a sequel might follow… Jones and Hackney transported me and I lived and breathed their characters journeys along with them. Hauntingly beautiful characters and story. Exceptional debut.
The American South in the 1950’s was not a welcoming place for those of colour or same sex persuasion. This novel illustrates that in a brutal way at times, and if you are sensitive to abuse, violence or rape, this is not the book for you. That being said, it is an integral part of the storyline, and in no way gratuitous or overdone.
This debut novel from Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney is absolutely a must-read. You will hurt for characters you will grow to love, and you will detest the antagonists in ways you can’t even imagine. This story is made all the more haunting because it is so well researched and written, evoking a time in history where love was a dangerous entity, and hatred was more powerful and visible than it should ever be. One of the best books I have read this year… I hope to see more collaboration from these two in the future.
Excerpt from Meet Me At 10 by Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney
“Get that son’bitch!”
That same evening, the eldest of the three chasing men led the hunt through the open fields of Daynes, three miles from the Ellis and Bruce site. They were closing in their target, but he was too fast. He needed to be. He was dead if they caught him.
Stopping for a split second, he looked frantically from side to side. Panting and sweating profusely, he placed his hands on his knees as panic raged through his exhausted body. The three men had split up and strategically blocked off his exit, closing in around him and pushing him closer to the edge of the rushing Weaver. In
the distance, the escaping man could hear the unmistakable sound of ferocious barking.
“Let him go, boy!”
Turning around, he watched in horror as the vicious, bloodthirsty canine headed straight for him, baring its teeth. On the last dregs of adrenaline, the man raced towards the end of the field straight ahead, his lungs perilously close to giving up on him.
“Stop him before he gets to the river, boys!”
Fatigue was overwhelming him, he fell to the ground. Dust billowed up from his crashing boots, giving away his position. They shone their torches through the fast fading light, dust particles catching in the shimmer of the beams. Dragging himself up, the target hopped for a few more steps. Mercifully, he had reached the riverbank.
He was almost safe.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781973833345
Vicky Jones Online
Claire Hackney Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Meet Me At 10 by Vicky Jones and Claire Hackney. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.