The Noble Experiment

Time for a confession.  I chose this unromantic topic as an intro to my new book.  After discovering that I was scheduled to blog on the most romantic day of the year, I scrambled to find a connection to the holiday.  Did I find it?  Read on.

In December 1917, a permanent ban on the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages was enacted by passage of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  The amendment was ratified in January of 1919 and took effect a year later. 

Proponents of this so called “noble experiment” claimed that without alcohol the nation’s health would improve and crime would drop. It was also claimed that industries like dairy, would prosper as other types of beverages increased in popularity to fill the void left by the absence of alcohol. Juvenile delinquency was also supposed to be virtually eliminated.

By the time the 18th Amendment was repealed in 1933, it was obvious that the measure was a failure.  Instead of promoting health, the opposite was true.  The illegal products brewed in hidden rooms or backwoods stills were often dangerous or much higher in alcohol content than the beer, wines and spirits they replaced.

The attempt to decrease the “evils” of alcohol actually created more – and new – types of crime.   Since illegal activity was required to market the illegal alcohol, criminal activity became organized and led to the rise of powerful crime syndicates that used murder, and the bribery of public officials to move large quantities of the illegal substance.  Criminals like Al Capone rose to power as gangs battled for control, climaxing in the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929.  (And there you have it.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!)

U.S. Marshals (see photo) were the principal enforcing agents of the Prohibition laws until the Treasury Department created the Bureau of Prohibition in 1927.   This brings me to U.S. Deputy Marshal Ethan Beaudry, the hero of my March book, THE WIDOWED BRIDE.  Ethan comes to Dutchman’s Creek, Colorado in the summer of 1920 to break up a bootlegging ring.

He meets his match in statuesque, flame-haired Ruby Rumford who came storming into the last chapter of THE HORSEMAN’S BRIDE.  Ruby has moved to Dutchman’s Creek to be near her brother and make a new start.  But she’s a lady with secrets – secrets that cause Ethan to suspect the worst of her.  Can he do his job, even if it means arresting the woman who’s stolen his heart?

You can learn more and read an excerpt on my website: www.elizabethlaneauthor.com And I’ll be giving away one copy of THE WIDOWED BRIDE for every ten readers who post.  So you’ll have a one-in-ten chance of winning.  Good luck.

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I'm an internationally published romance author, coming up on 40 novels and novellas. Most of my stories have been Westerns for Harlequin Historicals, but I set stories in other times and places as well. I'll also be writing contemporary stories for Harlequin Desire, with the first release in January 2013. You can learn more on my web site.

39 thoughts on “The Noble Experiment”

  1. Very interesting information. The Widowed Bride sounds like a good story and I can’t wait to read it. Happy Valentine’s Day.

  2. Hi Elizabeth! Happy Valentine’s Day! Very interesting post. Here where I live in Southeastern KY., we still have bootleggers. That’s because this whole portion of the state is dry. A handful of years ago, a measure was voted on in our county and a couple of others to allow certain restaurants to serve drinks, so long as it was served with food, but I can’t see that it changed anything. You still can’t go into a store and buy beer or liquor. People still make the drive north to Richmond, or south to Jellico, Tennessee to get their booze. And of course, for those who don’t want to travel that far, the bootleggers are still in business.

  3. Loved the post,an that book sounds oh so good,I live in Tennessee where bootlegging is still common in the hills,saw a couple of old stills when I was a kid,very interesting device

  4. Good morning Ladies. Still early here in Mountainland. Linda, Irma and Vickie, you are all in the drawing for a free book.
    Wow, I didn’t realize there were still bootleggers in some states. Thanks for the updates Irma and Vickie.

    I’ll be in and out today but will make sure every reader who posts is entered in the drawing.
    Forgot to mention earlier – winners outside North America will get a PDF copy.

  5. I have been looking forward to your book ever since I saw the cover!

    Thanks for the background on your story.

    Hope everyone has a wonderful Valentines Day.

    Peace, Julie

  6. Loved your excerpt, Elizabeth. Can relate to a fear of spiders, as I’m not too thrilled with them myself…. I’m looking forward to seeing how this all turns out, what with the bootlegging ring, the boarding house’s part in all this, and of course the hero/heroine’s steps in their relationship. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi Elizabeth, love the cover. The great experiment was an interesting part of our history and your book sounds wonderful. The arguments about prohibition protecting health and stopping crime are the same arguments cited today for legalizing marijuana.

  8. Back with you after a yoga class break.
    Rebekah, Julie and Crystal, you’re in the drawing.

    As are you, Laney, anon and Minna.
    Glad you like the cover. I’ve vowed to stop whining about the heroine’s wrong hair. At least they got Ethan right.

  9. While researching this blog, I thought about the parallels with today’s drug trade, Margaret. There’s no easy solution, is there?

    Here in Utah the beer has a 3.2 % alcohol limit, Mary. But there’s still lots of love.

  10. Your new book looks so good! You always get beautiful covers. And I love how the models are standing. Also, the guy is sexy. I don’t think a reader will mind the wrong hair color on the girl. The book should sell really well. I can’t wait to read it. You know I’m a big fan of yours.

  11. You always make me feel better, Linda. Ruby’s such a powerful character, I really wanted them to capture her on the cover. I’m guessing the art staff just couldn’t find the right model and ran out of time. I’m sure you’re right about the cover.
    Hugs.
    🙂

  12. Hi, Elizabeth! Thank you for a very unusual Valentine’s Day post! Of course, being the odd person that I am, I can actually relate to the subject matter. I am from the South–half of my family is from VA and the other half is from TN. “Runnin’ Shine” was a family tradition for generations of some Southern families. My mom (VA) and my dad (TN) were only married for a very short while, and I only met with my dad twice in my life. I have never met anyone else from his side of the family. I was in my twenties when I finally got to meet my dad. He played no part in my childhood, and we had never had contact until I finally made the move. One of the first things that he told me was that his father had been the biggest bootlegger of the day in their part of TN. To say the least, I was stunned. Someday, I may research this matter, but I am in no hurry.

    Thank you for featuring a “statuesque” heroine in “The Widowed Bride” : ) I have loved each of your books that I have read, and this one sounds equally terrific!

  13. Very interesting post. Up until a few years ago we had some “dry” counties in Minnesota. It is hard to believe you could drink in some places and not in others and still be in the same state. Can’t wait to read the book.
    Happy Valentine’s Day

  14. Thanks for visiting, Cheryl. Good luck in the drawing.

    Oh, my stars, Virginia, there’s a book in your story. What a background you have. I hope you take pride in being a very interesting person.

    As for my “statuesque” heroine, I described her in the art sheet I submitted as a “stunning plus-sized supermodel.” The artists didn’t quite get that, but there’s plenty of description in the book. FWIW, I’m not exactly teensy myself.
    🙂

  15. I agree with Elizabeth, that Virginia’s background sounds like a really good story. The other night I watched “Larry the Cable Guy” and his march across the US. He interviewed a still/shine maker in Georgia. Had to be blindfolded on the trip there. But the story of the still and the off shoot called NASCAR resulting from being chased by “revinooers” was also fascinating. It might be illegal, but it sure is a great story. The shine would probably kill you if you drank too much. But it is still being made in some parts of the South.
    Great post. Thanks.
    Oh, and your book sounds good, too.

  16. Learning lots of interesting stuff from readers today! Judyan, I didn’t know about Minnesota having “dry” counties. Thanks for the info.

    And I wish I’d seen that show, Mary J. Sounds amazing. Had no clue about the NASCAR connection.
    Incidentally, the term “revinooers” came from the time after 1927, when the bootleggers were prosecuted for tax evasion on their profits.

    Both of you are entered in the drawing.

  17. Clever way of making the connection! Looking
    forward to reading this book!

    Happy Valentine’s day to all and Happy Birthday
    to our son #1 whose birthday is today!!

    Pat Cochran

  18. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!!The cover is goregous and the story sounds awesome.I just ordered this one from HQN last week and am waiting for it to come in.Have a great Valentine!!

  19. This sounds like a marvelous book, Elizabeth. I’m especially intrigued by the era you chose. I adore Regency and Victorian romances, it’s refreshing and fun to read about a time period we don’t always get to hear about. Was it fun researching the 1920s?

  20. Loved the way you connected everything. In theory it was a great idea but unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world. Happy Valentine’s Day (again, it’s an ideal thought that probably causes a lot of pain too sigh).

  21. Happy Valentines day Elizabeth! Great post, very interesting post. I really love your books and I can’t wait to get your new book, sounds really good. Thanks for sharing with us today.

  22. Hi Elizabeth, great post, thanks.
    I did not know this story and it was interesting to read. Congratulations on the book, the cover is fabulous.
    I always hope that your new novels come soon in Italy. Now the old ones I’ve read so many times:))))
    Happy Valentine’s Day.

  23. Last month I watched the entire first season of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire and just loved it. So I’m very much in the mood for another story about the prohibition era. Yours sounds great, and I echo everyone who complimented the cover, I’m half in love with the hero already.

  24. Looking forward to reading your bok. Love the cover.
    My grandfather was a lawman in small town Nebraska during proabition. My grandmother told many interesting stories of the time – including one where she was jailer in their home for a woman he had arrested and didn’t want to but in jail with all the men. Never mind they has several children in the home at that time.

  25. Happy Valentine’ Day, Elizabeth. It’s been a very busy day for me, so juet getting to the computer. Did you all know red wine is an antioxodant and the “prevent cancer” menu calls for a moderate amount of it. Yay.

    The cover is great, Elizabeth, and I can’t wait for another of your books. oxoxox

  26. Seems the best way to promote something or make it popular is to forbid it. I know my grandfather made the run from Canada to New York City in the 1920s. He ditched at least one car load in the lake. We live in Tennessee and moonshine is still big business. There are several places you can buy it legally in the Pigeon Forge area. There are still busts of illegal stills in the mountains. They busted someone last year with I think about 100 pints in the car. It is just not safe to buy the stuff that isn’t brewed legally. I know of one party locally that had some home brew from one of their friends and everyone got sick.
    Making something illegal instead of regulating it well, almost guarantees that crime will will follow, as you mentioned.

    Thanks for the Valentine Day tie-in. Like the sound of your new book. Good luck with the release of THE WIDOWED BRIDE.

  27. Back home again, reading your delightful comments. Amazed at what I can learn from readers and their personal experiences.
    Thanks again for all your comments. I’ll be drawing two winners and posting the announcement soon.
    Happy Valentines Day
    Elizabeth

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