Pub Date: February 2017
Length: 306 plus a novella of Tycoon
POV: 3rd, past
FTC: Received a copy for free at RT17
After lamenting that we have lost the wide variety of time periods and settings in romance, I did a happy dance when I picked this book up at the RT Convention this year. It's set in the US during the Gilded Age (last 30 years or so of the 1800s). I like my Regencies just fine, but I was happy to see something different.
I have never read Joanna Shupe before, but I enjoyed this one. It's not perfect, but I was glad to see a diverse NYC represented. And not just in the background. Much of the plot involves Chinatown (yes, I can hear the groans) but it's not a caricature. We get the expected criminal element, but we also get a complex story about the Exclusion Acts, about a man trying to help his (Chinese) friend bring his wife to the US. It's thoughtful, and the characters here are not cardboard cutouts slapped on to satisfy some passing attempt at diversity. It feels organic and real.
What doesn't feel organic and real are the sex scenes, particularly in the beginning of the book. This is a second chance at love story, so it starts in the past with a short lived marriage between Calvin and Lillian. And for me? It was just too coarse and didn't fit the tone of the book.
My other big issues is that we are told Lillian is running her family's company, which is unusual, but we see very little of it outside of a board room meeting where she's relieved of her duties. By contrast, we see Calvin frequently in HIS place of work: the newspaper he's built into an empire.
I also have a huge issue with the BIG MISUNDERSTANDING trope. It irritates me. This time, the lovers are torn apart by Lillian's high handed father, who convinced Calvin that he would cut Lillian off without a cent, forcing her into a life of poverty (since Calvin was, himself, just a reporter when they married.) Calvin, of course, decides to do the "honorable" thing and walk away. Lillian is convinced by her father than Calvin was bought off. Neither one of them tries to see the other for years. YEARS.
Yeah. That irritates me.
I do like the characters. I like the setting. I even like the plot. If you're looking for something that's not another London-set Regency, I'd recommend you try this.
My Grade: B
The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age?
As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess--and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants . . .
Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she'll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm's length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?