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Jazz Age romances have always fascinated me: the turmoil of the era, the glitz, the innovation. But up until recently, I always assumed that the era was dubbed the Jazz Age after it was over. In fact, the moniker precedes even 1922, which is when F. Scott Fitzgerald is considered to have coined it in his book Tales of the Jazz Age.
But then, when did this term originate? As it turns out, it was before the beginning of the Roaring Twenties themselves. On May 23, 1919, Indiana newspaper The Elkhart Truth published an editorial titled “The Age of Jazz.” The editorial recounted a Baptist minister’s complaints about jazz being everywhere, making it “in short, (…) a jazz age.”
There is a certain controversy about when, exactly, the Jazz Age ended. Many historians mark the stock market crash of 1929 as the event that concluded the period. But others consider that part of the 1930s also belong to this era. I’ll leave that to the historians to debate. What I do know is that the Jazz Age was one of the most transformative eras in world, especially in U.S. history, and as such, it is a setting that’s worth exploring in literature. The following Jazz Age romances will give you that period in all its complexity.
Love’s Serenade by Sheryl Lister
If you like second chance romances, you’ll love this story featuring Leigh Jones, an aspiring jazz singer, and Miles Cooper, the man who walked out on her three years ago. Leigh will see hell freeze over before she gives Miles another chance, but he is determined to stick around this time.
Stars in their Eyes by Pema Donyo
Set against the backdrop of 1920s Paris, this novel sees writer Owen Matthews and actress Iris Wong reuniting when and where they least expect it. Can they make it work this time around?
Romancing the Rum Runner by Michelle McLean
If you prefer your romance a little more antagonistic, this enemies-to-lovers story will hit the spot. Jessica Harlan owns a very respectable butcher shop and a very non-respectable speakeasy.
Gumshoe Anthony Solomon is ready when the opportunity arises to catch The Phoenix, the owner of the most popular speakeasy in Chicago. But you know what they say about best laid plans. He’s not ready for The Phoenix to be a woman, or for his own response to her.
Their Haunted Nights by Allyson Jeleyne
War widow Helen Helmsley lives in a flat overlooking a brothel. When she finds a man outside her door — a man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead after exiting the brothel — she immediately sets out to nurse him back to health. But is she getting in over her head?
Taffy by Suzette D. Harrison
Taffy Bledsoe Freeman hails from the all-Black southern town of Bledsoe. After a seven-year long exile, she flees back home to attempt to end a mockery of a marriage. She’s not planning to stay though: she’s only there to collect the son that her husband sent to live with her parents, before leaving for Chicago.
But Chicago doesn’t happen. Instead, Taffy runs into Roan Ellis, the man she meant to marry years ago. As the spark between Taffy and Roan reignites, long-buried secrets and wounds come up to the surface.
Of Trust & Heart by Charlotte Anne Hamilton
Lady Harriet Cunningham must marry. At 24, she is considered a spinster by society at large. It doesn’t matter that she became a nurse at 18, during the Great War. It doesn’t even matter that the years away made her understand truths about herself that she can no longer ignore.
But she wants one last hoorah before settling down. She and her cousin go to a speakeasy, where Harriet cannot take her eyes away from the singer. Soon, Harriet will find that Miss Harriet Smith might be worth defying all expectations.
Spellbound by Allie Therin
The Jazz Age, but make it magic. Arthur’s life is devoted to protecting the world from dangerous supernatural relics. When he comes across an amulet with the power to destroy New York, he finds himself in need of a psychometric. There’s only problem: Rory, the man he needs, swore off his powers completely.
The Art of Love by Suzette D. Harrison
Ava Lydell left the Deep South for California, where she hopes to make a living with her art. But the Great Depression foils all her dreams and plans, making her new art studio fail. Now, she has to face poverty, eviction… and Chase Jenkins.
Chase is a bootlegger who has no time for distractions. He needs to find out who killed his little brother, after all. But Chase and Ava discover that staying away from each other might be easier said than done.
Do you want to read more about the Jazz Age? Check out these must-read books set in the 1920s.