BY LINDA BENNETT PENNELL
Publication Date: June 18, 2018
Soul Mate Publishing
eBook; 302 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romantic Suspense
Sometimes our biggest debts have nothing to do with money.
1926. When seventeen-year-old Sam Ackerman witnesses a mob hit, he is hustled out of New York under the protection of Moshe Toblinsky, A.K.A., the mob’s bookkeeper. Arriving in Miami with no money, no friends, and no place to hide, Sam’s only choice is to do as the gangster demands. Forced into bootlegging, Sam’s misery is compounded when he falls in love. Amazingly, the beautiful, devout Rebecca wants only him, but he cannot give her the life she deserves. When Prohibition ends, Sam begs the mobster to set him free. The price? A debt, as Toblinsky puts it, of friendship. A debt that will one day come due.
Present Day. History of American Crime professor Liz Reams has it all—early success, a tantalizing lead on new info about Moshe Toblinsky, and a wonderful man to love. Life is perfect. So what’s keeping her from accepting her guy’s marriage proposals? Confronting a long-standing personal debt sets her on a journey of self-discovery. While she delves ever deeper into Sam’s and Toblinsky’s relationship, her understanding of her own relationships increases as well, but the revelations come at a price. The emotional and physical dangers of her dual journeys may prove too big to handle.
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Sam Ackerman is a 17 year old Jewish boy trying to help his family with money in New York, 1926. Sam finds out he can make an extra two dollars working for a gangster in a speakeasy. Usually Sam is only tasked with cleaning up, however when Sam witnesses a hit and is tasked with dumping the body, he is seen by the police. Sam is hurried out of New York and sent to a contact in Miami, Moshe Toblinsky, the mob's bookkeeper. Indebted to the mob and Moshe, Sam continues working for the mob, now running alcohol back to the mainland. Sam is housed with the Scheinberg family and can't help but take notice of their daughter, Rebecca. Sam wants out of the mob in order to marry Rebecca, but is too far in. It seems that he will always owe someone a favor.
Presently, Liz Reams is trying to fish out the next big discovery in American Crime. She is desperately trying to keep up to her early career success from her last discovery about Al Capone, but keeps coming up empty. Liz finally gets a break when she finds a news article with pictures, but she still needs to identify the man with the scar on his face and his connection to Moshe Toblisnsky. However, now she is indebted to the man who lined up all of her contacts.
I always love a good dual time story and Miami Days Havana Nights is no exception. The chapters alternated between Sam and Liz's points of views and each chapter always seemed to end on a small cliffhanger making me devour the next chapter so I could see what would happen next. Both Sam and Liz had equally compelling stories and I'm glad that their relationship was only historical figure and researcher, what tied their stories together was simply their sense of obligation to those who have helped them. Sam's story showed how kids were pulled into the mob and kept there. Sam never had any intention of joining, he just wanted extra money to support his family, because of his ideals and work ethic, he was the perfect person to fulfill mob tasks. From Sam's story, I also learned of the extent of the Jewish people within the mob. Moshe Toblinsky's character is loosely based on Meyer Lansky. LIz's story dives into the high pressure in the world of academia and research, especially as a female researcher looking into American Crime. I appreciated how Liz grew more aware of her actions and how she felt as she was digging deeper into Sam's life. Overall, a fast-paced dual-time story exploring Florida's Jewish mob connections.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
I currently reside in the Houston area with my sweet husband and a German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl.
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