Last Barrel by Stacy Lynn MillerLast Barrel by Stacy Lynn Miller is a historical thriller set in the era of Prohibition, gangsters and the burgeoning power of Hollywood.

Three years after the Whiskey War swept through Half Moon Bay’s speakeasies, Dax and Rose are living a comfortable life during the economic hard times of the Great Depression. They still have to take midnight deliveries of illegal liquor to sell to the customers Rose brings in with her alluring looks and beautiful singing, but the law may be about to change and make their business legal, even as their love remains criminal.

Surrounded by the love of family and found family, Dax continues to struggle against the real threat of gangster violence that bootlegging creates. She’s okay with putting herself in danger, but the newly elected sheriff is counting the minutes till he can legally take revenge on Dax and everyone she loves. Everyone understands, though, that he intends to go far beyond anything legal.


Prohibition created a sudden and violent change in American culture that could make a person rich if they were lucky enough to survive threats from the law and rival bootleggers. The historical accuracy of this book blew me away, from the larger issues of governmental power that created a virulent and powerful gangster class to the minutia of an obscure tattoo paired with a long forgotten code word.  Every historical touch provides an authentic atmosphere that creates obstacles to overcome and the feeling of a simpler time.

There are a lot of characters and moving parts in this gripping thriller set in a rich world mixing opulent queer Hollywood with a seedy, dangerous foundation on the cusp of great change. From physical violence to legal and romantic entanglements the author gives a reader a lot to cheer for and edge of your seat thrills.

Romance comes in several flavors and is beautiful in every case. My favorite is between Grace and her beard, Clive. They aren’t together solely for her image and career, but because they love each other deeply and will do anything for the person they love.

Pros And My Favourite Parts

There are no easy solutions to any of the dire threats faced by many characters, from possible fatal illness to thuggish gangster violence to unrequited love. The third book of the series has several fuses burning toward an explosive confrontation with a dangerous foe determined to wipe out Dax and everyone she loves. There is also a ticking clock that signals the approaching end of Prohibition and their ability to live the life of a legitimate business owner. The tension never eases and violence threatens every person in Dax and Rose’s found family. Keeping their love secret from the world is the least of their problems.

The author uses the era beautifully, with challenging communication and transportation, to a real cultural threat for all the couples. Bringing in characters who featured in the previous books in the series also gives the book a deeper feeling of history, and cleared up several lingering unresolved issues. Not having read the first two books won’t deter from enjoying this one because the author seamlessly supplies lots of backstory throughout.

I was impressed with the number of characters and complexity of cliff hanger moments. It’s not easy to see how any of the characters will succeed or even survive. One plot thread concerns the lost friendship between Charlie and Dax, and through most of the book I was at a loss for how they could overcome that. Not really being able to guess what’s going to happen spices up any story.

Heads Up

Lots of gangster violence and two instances of sexual assault.

The Conclusion

Dax and Rose have an enduring love as illicit as their opulent, hard liquor speakeasy that is a safe haven for the glamourous queer icons of early Hollywood. Three years after the Whiskey War nearly tore apart Half Moon Bay, they have settled into a life together in the uncertain and desperate years of Prohibition and the Great Depression. Even that fragile existence is threatened by the newly elected Sherrif who has declared Dax and anyone she loves to be a target for violence.

If you haven’t read the first two, this page turning thriller will keep you enthralled using a troubled time and place in history to follow the lives of many distinct characters. Their love binds them together as family and found family, but also places them in grave danger.

Excerpt from Last Barrel by Stacy Lynn Miller

A woman broke away from the group, holding a champagne glass in each hand. Her dark-brown hair and blue-gray eyes were unmistakable. “We finally get to share a drink since you’re not working tonight.”

“Thank you, Miss Garbo.” Dax accepted the glass. Her policy of never drinking at the clubs during a shift extended to every employee, including her.

“Are you ever going to call me Greta?”

“Not as long as you’re a customer of one of my clubs.”

“Not seeing you in your tux won’t work, so I’ll have to settle for formalities.”

Dax sipped her drink. “This is really good.”

“It’s from my private stock. It’s a shame you don’t offer it at the Beacon or Seaside.”

“I’ll be happy to order a few bottles, or if you prefer, I can store anything from your private collection in our cooler to have on hand for when you visit.”

“You must consider me extra special to offer storage space.”

“I’d do the same for any close friend of Grace.” Dax sipped again.

“This is never going to happen, is it?” At Dax’s hard no, Greta downed her drink in one gulp. “You can’t blame a girl for trying.” The lights flashed three times. “That’s our cue. Time to get to work.” Greta pressed a hand on Dax’s chest. “Rose is a lucky woman. She never has to worry about you straying.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

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Series: Speakeasy

Devil’s Slide

Whiskey War

Last Barrel

Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 978-1-64247-520-3

Publisher: Bella Books

Stacy Lynn Miller Online


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