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Guest Post: Struggles to write a sequel by Joy Allyson #guestpost #writing #historicalromance #roaring20s #prohibition #bookrec #wrpbks


My favorite genre is unapologetically historical romance. Writing the perfect HEA story placed in one of my best-loved historical time periods is genuine enjoyment. The challenge is to remain historically accurate yet retain the believability readers crave.


It was great fun this past summer to have my debut novel Whiskey Love, nominated as a finalist in the Best Historical Suspense category at the 2023 Nashville Silver Falchion Awards. Taking part in a book fair between Navy Seals, X CIA, and retired Secret Service agents was a unique experience. One that reminds me that writing is a journey; so many interesting people and stories to be met along the way. I hope to continue down this journey for a long, long time.                                          


~ Joy Allyson


Struggles to write a sequel


How do you write a book sequel about a very successful whiskey distillery during the prohibition era?


This was my challenge when my readers and publisher, who loved the 1890s period romance entitled Whiskey Love, begged for a sequel.


Readers fell in love with the two main characters in Whiskey Love, strong and spirited Chloe Tanner and determined and steady Pen Kittrell. Their story ended in 1894 with a very pregnant Chloe and her husband Pen watching their five-year-old nephew horseback ride while deciding how they would run their two family distilleries, Tom Tanner Tennessee Whiskey and Penland Kittrell Whiskey. 


I decided to leap forward thirty years to 1924 for my sequel. The United States was in the early years of forced prohibition with the 18th Amendment. How did distilleries survive? What were their key challenges? Lots more research was required. Fortunately, I am in close proximity to longtime distilleries. My story grew from the many accounts owners narrated to me about those tough times.


               Whiskey Secret’s premise–the Tanner Kittrell clan has a choice to make:


 Stand and fight or sell out and flee.


I allowed my fictional distillery to receive one of the many coveted Government Medicinal Contracts to continue to operate. The United States distributed only five in Kentucky and fewer in Tennessee when prohibition was enacted.


The government contract invited a whole host of new problems. One of the most expensive was the contracting of armed guards to protect previously open businesses, along with the extensive cost of constructing fencing and walls as fortitude against those who sought the genuine product made within.


The perpetrators were many. Prohibitionists continued to seek total shutdown of the spirit industry, lawless drunkards, greedy small-town crooks, and big-time organized crime were just a few to name.


The Penland-Kittrell family had to confront all as they continued to see their support in numbers dwindle among other distillery owners. They watched as one distillery after another closed, padded up, and the owners moved away.


Set in the hidden valleys of Oak Hollow, Tennessee, prohibition propels the three cousins into a world where inhabitants survive as best they can. Pen Kittrell, the patriarch of the family, opens a new distillery in Mexico (as many distillers moved South of the border or to Canada) while his nephew Dillon, son Tom, and sister Kit stay behind in Tennessee and help run Tanner Whiskey with their mother and aunt Chloe Tanner Kittrell.


Corrupt officials and organized crime perpetrators are operating nonstop. Hardcore prohibitionists are on the lookout for any hedge legal distillers would take to increase their output. They stand ready with their vile hatred and hatchets. Speakeasies and bootleggers are running nonstop.


Cousin Dillon has been dealt the harshest blow, he was sabotaged in a fake whiskey heist and sentenced to almost a year in the state penitentiary. Who stole half a million of their whiskey and where is it hidden? All three cousins make it their mission to find out and help Dillon seek the revenge he craves.


Tom Tanner Kittrell makes no excuses for skirting laws that prevent his company and community from surviving. The unbelievably stupid legislation has affected everyone and threatens their livelihood’s existence. 


He and his sister and cousin have been hiding whiskey in barns, caves, and caverns since prohibition first started. No one knows how long this new law will last, but everyone knows the value of saved whiskey. He justifies his actions by pointing out a well-known tale about one of the richest women in Nashville, Tennessee.




 “The crime rate in these United States has soared since prohibition.”


“There will always be men who skirt the law.”


 “Men! Sweetheart, some of the best bootleggers around are women.” She pursed her lips, not willing to argue anymore. “Hey, are you one of those suffragettes who has run out of causes to support once you got the vote?”


 She glared at him, unable to not take his bait. “What does that have to do with anything?”


 “Well, I figured if you were—it’d explain things.”


 “Like what?”


He chuckled at her piqued interest. “Just how passionate you are about this whole prohibition thing? Or dedicated, should I say?”


 “You are insane.”


 “Well, if you are a suffragette, you should be happy. Prohibition has liberated women. Before the Eighteenth Amendment took place, I never saw a woman in a bar unless she was a prostitute.” Camille gasped. “Nowadays, you can go into any old speakeasy from Nashville to about anywhere and see lots of women drinking. Yes, sirree. Respectable women. And young ones too. The country’s number of women drinkers must have quadrupled in the past five years.”


 Camille scooted away, placing distance between them.


“And the most remarkable change in the ‘war between the sexes’ is in bootlegging. In most states, police officers won’t stop a woman they suspect bootlegging. Women know this and use it to their advantage. Can’t search her, police say. No, wouldn’t be right. But I hear in a few places they don’t care anymore. They’ll search a nice-looking woman whether they suspect her or not.”


  Young Kit desperately wants to join her father in Mexico. She also wants to get in on all the fun of the roaring twenties. She loves the short dresses, the short hair, the glitter of secret speakeasies, and the female freedom of the flapper era. Her seemingly innocent pursuits and desires lead her to as much trouble as Tom and Dillon.


The Twenties and Prohibition were a fascinating time in history. Writing a historical romance that takes place in this time period was indeed challenging. I hope I tied it all together in a passionate, fast-paced, and entertaining story that captured the essence of this remarkable time.


Be on the lookout for a third whiskey title to come out next year to complete a whiskey trilogy. In the meantime, grab the eBook or immerse yourself in the paperback pages of Whiskey Secrets,—the riveting story of family, love, survival, and victory!


Title Whiskey Secrets

Author Joy Allyson

Genre Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense

Publisher The Wild Rose Press


Book Blurb


Their world is collapsing!


 Prohibition has reached its tentacles into the hollows of Tennessee. It’s no secret Tom Tanner’s Tennessee Whiskey heirs are playing both sides of the law to save their livelihood—the challenge is not getting caught.


Tom Tanner Kittrell risks life and limb to protect his family’s legacy in a deadly gamble. Will Cammie Johnson, his beautiful neighbor, with temperance vigilante ties, reveal his secret?


Dillon Tanner, hell-bent on revenge after being wrongly accused, abducts pretty flapper, Lily Stonecipher, hoping she holds the key to who’s behind a takeover attempt. 


Kit Kittrell yearns to experience the freedom of the roaring twenties, from the thrill of speakeasies to the daring of bootlegging. Will town bad boy, Alex Stooksbury, step in to rescue her from certain disaster?


As the public’s thirst for spirits remains unquenchable, their lives and loves become inextricably entangled in the prohibition era.    




“Good girl, what a find.” Her brother kissed the top of her head.


“Damn, Tom, how can you say that? We’re lucky she’s even with us tonight, not down in a secret hideaway nobody knows about.” Alex slammed his fists into his jacket pockets.


“Nobody needs to lose their cool,” Dillon warned.


“She’s okay, Alex. Take it easy. Now tell us again what you told Reggie.” Her brother waited until she pulled out a dining room chair. She plopped down and unbuckled her shoes.


“Look, you told me to be intentionally vague. He knows Alex is getting paid for something on Friday. Right now, he thinks he might get his hands on a diamond necklace. But as soon as he puts two and two together about a delivery like you boys think he will, he’ll be after the bigger prize. The whiskey. So all the other little stunts you have planned must fall into place.”


“They will. They have to. But I think he’ll stick with Friday. Ole Reggie will want our truck even more now. He’ll realize he must move the hidden whiskey before anyone else, besides you, finds out about his hiding place.” Dillon looked straight at Kit.


“Exactly. Reggie knows she knows.” The veins on Alex’s neck stood out.


“Well, I’m headed to bed.” Maybe Tom would drop the big brother act for once and not mind Alex sleeping with her instead of down the hall in the guest bedroom. You never knew. Men. 


Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub)







Author Biography


As the daughter of a United States military officer, Joy Allyson grew up with a love of travel and a deep appreciation of history. A former teacher-turned-writer, she has an unquenchable thirst for historical romances for her reading choices. Her favorite characters – are rebel heroines and salvageable scoundrels. Joy believes the best romances are the ones you want to read over and over again.


 She resides among the beautiful hills of Tennessee with her husband and near her two daughters and six grandchildren.


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1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Jan 05

Thank you, Joy, for the very insightful guest post!

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