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Fiction by Jess Wells

Jess Wells is the author of six novels and five books of short stories, winner of the Bronze Medal in the 2020 Foreword Reviews Indies Award for Adult Fiction/Romance, the recipient of a San Francisco Arts Commission Grant for Literature, a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award, and a member of the Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame. Her work has appeared in more than three dozen literary journals and anthologies, has been reprinted in England and translated into Italian and Dutch. These works include:

Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar

In 1865 in the shanty town of Tartatenango, the Caketown Bar is owned by the extraordinary Jaguar Paloma, matriarch of a village of raucous miscreants, cast-off mothers, muleteers, and forgers. Amid drunken monks, a roaring trade in faked marriages just for fun, and the Romani, all balance on the knife-edge between legality and the illicit.  

 

Co-founder Orietta Becerra is breathtakingly beautiful and ambitious. But when she crosses the tracks and marries the town's mayor, her double life severs her friendship with Paloma and the town starts to pay the highest of prices. Adding to the chaos is a murderous forger, and a Civil War that claims men before their time.

 

Caketown – men want to destroy it. Women want to play in it. The township itself has to fight on all sides to survive.

 

Told in evocative magical realism, Jaguar Paloma and the Caketown Bar is a tale of wronged women who stand up to be counted.

 

To buy a signed copy of the paperback directly from the author, use this link.

Straight Uphill: A Tale of Love and Chocolate

In a hilltop Italian village, five generations of women confectioners work the improbable magic of love and chocolate. Can a brokenhearted American tourist fight the ghosts of her past to find a new life? Can a courageous mother save the village in the midst of war; and a renegade daughter redefine familial love? Could unlikely couples find each other despite their differences? If an abandoned widow navigates a shifting sense of purpose, will the legacy of chocolatiers take a new turn?

A Slender Tether

Amid the turbulent weather of Europe's Little Ice Age, A Slender Tether offers a novel of three linked stories of self-discovery, woven into a rich tapestry of 14th century France. Christine de Pizan, daughter of a disgraced court physician and astrologer, grapples with her ambition to be the first woman writer in France. A doctor finds an unusual way to cope with the death of his wife. And opportunity alternates with disasters in the lives of four commoners, yoked by necessity: a paper-maker struggling to keep his business, a falconer with a mysterious past, a merchant's daughter frantic to avoid an arranged marriage, and a down-on-his-luck musician with a broken guitar and the voice of an angel.

The Mandrake Broom

One woman's fight to save medical knowledge during the witch-burning times 1465-1540 in Europe and preserve the writings of Trotula. The Mandrake Broom shows the tension between visibility and invisibility, between internal strength and external powerlessness, and the continually fluid interplay of those factors, while it takes the reader through persecution and plague, love and joy, and the struggle for unity.

The Disappearing Andersons of Loon Lake

Love, loss, irony and humor abound in the lives of eight families living around Loon Lake, a shallow fishing spot in Northern Michigan. Whether it's the story of a young dreamer and a bully, a man looking forward to retirement and the family that stands in his way; a teacher facing ethical choices, or a family coping with disaster, these stories delight. Wells' "use of language is like music," critics say. "From the clear and compelling voice of the author comes a narrative that will arrest the attention of any good listener. The writing has something lyrical about it, a poetic quality that will strongly resonate in the heart of the reader." Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Aftershocks

In this classic tale of control, fear and upheaval, Trout, a successful businesswoman unaccustomed to losing control, and her partner-in-life Patricia, eyewitness the collapse of a building she helped construct. Cherice, a bisexual trapped in an elevator with a straight man and Louise, whose bar becomes a haven for so many, are among those whose lives have suddenly become upended by an 8.0 earthquake in San Francisco.

The Price of Passion

In The Price of Passion, Simone -- the orphaned, emotionally neglected daughter of a wealthy family -- must earn her inheritance by traveling the globe delivering a message to her dying grandmother's lovers. The young woman hopes that the pilgrimage will help her reconstruct her shadowed family history -- the shape of lives lived without her, but learns that there is a price to be paid for the emotions one is willing to feel, and the truths one is capable of acknowledging.