“Dancing with Velvet” by Judy Nickles is a story set in San Angelo, Texas during the late 1040’s. Celeste is a young woman living with her father. She has graduated from high school and works as a bookkeeper at the local Woolworth’s. Her father is an alcoholic who treats her more as a housekeeper and cook than a daughter. He is at times a violent man and Celeste does her best to stay out of his way. She lives on what little money she makes and has to pay board to her father even though she also pays for the food and other things which he will not do.
One day as she was walking to work, she spies a beautiful blue velvet dress in the window of a dress shop. It is too highly priced for her, but she dreams of dancing with her prince in this dress, so she puts the dress on layaway until she can come up with the money to pay for all of it. She is finally able to purchase the dress and wears it to the Rooftop where a dance is held every month. It is there that she meets a young traveling salesman, Kent, and strikes up a friendship with him. He loves her blue velvet dress and begins calling her his pet name for her, ”Velvet”. They meet as often as they can at the dance. He becomes her prince in her mind. He is subsequently transferred to another location and she despairs of seeing him again.
World War II is on the horizon and San Angelo is located near an air force training camp, Fort Concho. As luck would have it, her young “prince” has enlisted and is sent to train pilots at Fort Concho. Celeste volunteers at the local Canteen, where she meets Kent again. They resume their friendship which turns out to be more than that. Kent comes with baggage that he has not divulged to Celeste, and she blindly allows herself to fall in love with him. Theirs is not a fairy-tale romance, but continues to be beset by problems from her father’s abuse to aspects of Kent’s life before he met her.
This is the story of Celeste and Kent’s love saga. I was unable to stop reading because one thing after the other occurred to cause their love to on-again-off-again. You’ll have to read this book to find out what happened to Celeste and Kent. Suffice it to say, you’ll not be able to put this book down until you find out.
In the waning days of the Great Depression, Celeste Riley wonders if life will always be the same: going to work, coming home to keep house for her widowed father who ignores her. She clings to her married sister, Coralee, and the recurring dream of a blue velvet curtain and a faceless lover who beckons her beyond it.
Then a blue velvet dress in the window of a local department store seems to promise the change in her life she so desperately longs for. When she dances in the arms of traveling salesman Kent Goddard at the Roof Garden, she is sure she has found the man of her dreams and is crushed when he disappears from her life. Then, soon after Pearl Harbor propels the United States into war, he returns in uniform as a student at the new bombardier training school. A wartime separation threatens their deepening relationship—and Celeste realizes that what she doesn’t know about the man of her dreams may become her worst nightmare.