You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Posted by on Oct 13, 2017 | 7 comments

You’re the Cream in My Coffee by Jennifer Lamont Leo

You’re the Cream in My Coffee is the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Award-winning debut novel of Jennifer Lamont Leo. I know you’ll enjoy being transported into Marjorie Corrigan’s world of 1920’s Chicago with Jazz and Prohibition. Leave a comment as your entry to win a print copy of the book. Sign in on the Rafflecopter at the very end to increase your chances of winning! 



Fabulous Fridays

You’re the Cream in My Coffee

Welcome, Jenny! It’s great to meet you and learn more about your writing! What inspired You’re the Cream in My Coffee?

I used to have a daily commute from the suburbs to downtown Chicago. One day, bored and waiting for the train to leave Union Station, I was watching the crowd and thought, what if I suddenly spotted someone whom I hadn’t seen in years? Whom I thought was gone forever? That was the seed of the story.

What character in You’re the Cream in My Coffee is most like you? Was that intentional, or did it just come about in the course of the writing?

The main character, Marjorie, is most like me. I assigned each character a Myers-Briggs personality type, and Marjorie’s type happens to be the same as mine (INFP). So I suppose she thinks and acts much as I would in her situation. 

What is your favorite period in history and why?

I’ve always been interested in the early 20th century, from World War I through World War II. I grew up listening to stories of older relatives and it always seemed like an interesting time to be alive: plenty of hard times interspersed with good times. The 1920s especially have a lot in common with our own era: conservatives vs. progressives, “wets” vs. “drys,” the Scopes trial, and culture-changing new technology like automobiles, radios, and movies.

How in important is setting to your writing, and how do you go about researching and creating the setting for You’re the Cream in My Coffee?  

I want to transport readers to another time and place, so setting is very important. I grew up near Chicago, so I’m familiar with the city, but it takes a lot of digging to accurately represent it as it was in the 1920s. I rely on books, old magazines and newspapers, and catalogs of the period to clue me in on clothing, food, décor, and what people were thinking and talking about. I also researched the history of the department store where my main character works, even down to old promotional materials and employee rules, to get the details right as much as possible.

You're the Cream in My Coffee meme

Why did you choose the particular theme in You’re the Cream in My Coffee? What were you trying to say to your readers?

I didn’t choose a theme as much as it grew organically out of the story: that even though following the Lord won’t solve your problems (and, indeed, usually produces new ones), He walks beside you through them, every step of the way. When Marjorie is at her loneliest and most discouraged, that’s when she feels God’s presence in a very real way.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing You’re the Cream in My Coffee, and how did you overcome it?  

My greatest roadblock was finishing the darn thing! I kept writing and rewriting the early scenes, trying to get them perfect. Finally I had to grit my teeth, write the entire book, and then go back and rewrite once I had some raw material to work with. 

Share what we might find you doing when you’re not writing?

My “day job” is freelance copywriting and editing for clients. I also volunteer at my church and a local history museum, and sing in a community choir. We live on a mountain in rural northern Idaho, where I enjoy walking, snowshoeing, and relaxing with my husband and cats. 

What makes your style of story-telling unique?  

Readers have expressed surprise that my novel made them laugh. I don’t think it’s a particularly funny story, but apparently something about my writing voice makes people smile. Which is okay by me! 

What has been the biggest surprise about becoming a published novelist?  

I’ve worked in book publishing for a long time, so there haven’t been too many surprises about the publishing process. The best surprises are when a reader says she enjoyed the story. If it brightened someone’s day, even a little bit, that’s reward enough for me.

Please share the opening scene of You’re the Cream in My Coffee. You're the Cream in My Coffee cover

First off, I need to set the record straight. In a town the size of Kerryville, Illinois, rumors have a way of catching fire and burning a hole straight through the truth.

Despite what you may have heard down at Madge’s Cut ’n’ Curl, the fact that I, Marjorie Corrigan, fainted in the balcony at the Orpheum during the Sunday matinee had nothing to do with the movie’s intense Great War battle scenes. Or the steamy romance between an American soldier and a French farm girl. Or the scandalous appearance of a curse word right there in black and white for the whole world to see. It had nothing to do with Myrtle Jamison’s off-tune piano accompaniment, or the refreshment stand running out of Coca-Cola even before the feature started.

Above all, it had nothing—absolutely nothing—to do with my being in the “family way,” a rumor as mortifying as it was untrue. Honestly! I realized the good ladies of Kerryville thought my engagement to Dr. Richard Brownlee had dragged on entirely too long, but spreading malicious rumors was not the way to speed things along.

Here’s how it all began. On an unseasonably warm April afternoon, the theater grew close and stuffy, especially up in the balcony where my kid sister, Helen, and I were seated. The new air-cooling systems, all the rage in city theaters, had not yet made it to little Kerryville. I pressed my handkerchief to my face and debated whether to sneak down to the lobby for a cold drink. I knew the picture by heart, anyway. Helen and I had already watched John Gilbert in The Big Parade several times. The feature selection at the Orpheum changed with glacial slowness, and the owner swapped in an old favorite now and then when new reels were slow to arrive. Still, I hated to annoy people by crawling over their legs in the dark, so I stayed put and watched a favorite scene in which the soldier and the French girl first meet in the village near her family’s farm.

As the doughboy and farm girl flirted onscreen, I mentally recast the scene. The French village became Kerryville, the farm our family’s dry goods store, and the French girl was me, stocking thread and cutting fabric on an ordinary day, when in walks a handsome soldier, ready to change my life forever. What would it be like to have my whole world turned upside down by this soldier, his dazzling smile hinting at adventure and mystery? What if he invited me to run away with him? What if he held out his hand to me and said—

“Stop hogging all the Jujubes.” Helen reached over and snatched the candy from my hand. With a start I snapped back to reality, guilty I’d been caught daydreaming, especially since the soldier in my fantasy clearly bore a face other than that of my fiancé, Richard. With a sigh I relinquished the sweets. Real life wasn’t anything like the movies.

Helen had begged to see The Big Parade yet again, but playing around the misty edges of my mind lurked the real reason I had given in. In John Gilbert’s soulful expression, in his strong jaw and khaki uniform, I saw Jack. Jack, the sweetheart lost to me forever on some battlefield in France. And for just a little while, in the dark, I could think back and remember. 

For heaven’s sake, Marjorie, snap out of it. I straightened my spine against the velvet cushion. It’s been ten years. You’re engaged to someone else. Move on with your life. Forward, march.

Sternly I directed my mind to imagine Richard in the soldier role, but it didn’t quite work. For one thing, Richard hadn’t served in the war. For another, he was not prone to impulsive romantic gestures. Our courtship proceeded on a steady course, free of drama. Silently I recited his good qualities, a habit I’d acquired of late. Richard was kind. Generous. Faithful. Prosperous. Toss in thrifty, brave, and clean and he’d make the perfect Boy Scout. In fact, he made perfect husband and father material. Everyone said so. If together we seemed to lack a certain, well, spark, then so what? A girl can’t build a future on castles in the air.

At sixteen, Helen still firmly believed in air castles. Beside me she mused, “I wonder if our brother fell in love with any French girls during the war.”

Or if Jack did, I wondered against my will, then chased that thought straight out of my head. Remembering my old flame invariably brought on useless comparisons between then and now.

“Not likely,” I whispered to Helen. “Charlie’s never mentioned any girls.”

“Not that he’d tell us, of course. You don’t tell that sort of thing to your sisters.”

Sssh! Watch the picture.”

Helen fell silent, but she’d seen the movie too many times to become engrossed. Minutes later she whispered, “I wish you and I could travel to France.”

“Maybe we will. Someday.”

She snorted. “You say that now. But once you’re married, we’ll never get to go anywhere or do anything fun, ever again.”

This time the “Sssh!” came from the row behind us.

My sister’s words echoed in my head. Never do anything fun again. Suddenly, in spite of the heat, shivers that had nothing to do with John Gilbert’s dreamy dark eyes raised goose bumps on my arms. The screen blurred. The flocked-velvet walls closed in on me. My pulse pounded. I needed air.

I nudged my sister. “Come on. We have to leave.”

Helen gaped at me in the flickering light. “What’s the matter?”

The rows of seats rearranged themselves in dizzying patterns.

“Now, please. I’m—I’m not feeling well.”

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know. I just feel—strange.”

She gestured toward the screen. “But the soldier and the French girl—”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Helen,” I hissed, gripping her arm. “How many times have we seen it? War happens, he leaves, he comes back, they kiss, end of story.”

Ow. Stop it!” Helen yanked her arm away, swatting the man in front of us. He turned and glared. “Sorry,” she whispered, then to me, “See what you made me do.”

The theater dipped and spun. “I mean it, Helen. I have to leave. Now.”

She peered at me. “Jeepers, Marjorie, you don’t look so hot.”

I stood and lurched over legs and handbags toward the exit. “Sorry. Sorry.”

And the next thing I knew, I was lying flat in the aisle, Helen rubbing my wrist, a pockmarked usher shining his flashlight in my face, and Eugenia Wardlow, the town’s biggest gossip, leaning over me with a look of delighted concern.

Book Blurb:

In 1928, Chicago rocks to the rhythm of the Jazz Age, and Prohibition is in full swing. Small-town girl Marjorie Corrigan, visiting the city for the first time, has sworn that coffee’s the strongest drink that will pass her lips. But her quiet, orderly life turns topsy-turvy when she spots her high school sweetheart–presumed killed in the Great War–alive and well in a train station. Suddenly everything is up for grabs.

Jennifer Lamont Leo author About the author:

Jennifer Lamont Leo loves all things vintage, especially stories set in the early twentieth century. You’re the Cream in My Coffee, set in 1920s Chicago, is her first novel. The sequel, Ain’t Misbehavin’, will release in March 2018. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor, and her byline occasionally appears in regional magazines. A native of Illinois, she now lives in rural northern Idaho with her husband, two cats, and abundant wildlife.

Connect with Jenny:


Facebook Author Page:




Book Link:


You're the Cream in My Coffee

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Jennifer is a new author to me, and I would love to win a copy of her book. Thanks for the chance. It sounds like a fun read. ????

    • Thank you for dropping in! The 1920s were a very interesting time period, and fun to write about.

  2. New to me author and the book sounds like a good one.

    • Thanks, Ann. I hope you give it a try and enjoy the story!

  3. Hi Jennifer & Norma. I did a U.S. History term paper on AL Capine, Prohibition and the 1920s and I became fascinated with that era. This book sounds like a great read and I appreciate this giveaway.
    Thank you and Blessings!

    • What a rich topic for a term paper! Family lore has it that my great-grandmother knew Frank Capone, Al Capone’s brother. Supposedly she said Frank had “a face like an angel.” lol But not a heart of one, I’m afraid.

  4. New author. Fun title

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Did you enjoy this?

If so, please help spread the happiness! Share this post with your friends!

%d bloggers like this: