It’s 1888 in New York City, where wealth and power are king, and four men are determined to rule—no matter the cost. With MAGNATE, author-on-the-rise Joanna Shupe kicks off The Knickerbocker Club, a new historical romance series set in Gilded Age New York City!
New York City’s Gilded Age shimmers with unimaginable wealth and glittering power. The men of the Knickerbocker Club know this more than anyone else. But for one titan of industry, the business of love is not what he expected…
Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that…
Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlour room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor…
Joanna Shupe showed a great deal of promise with her debut series set in Regency England, but this new series set several decades later in Gilded Age New York is in a class of its own.
I really enjoyed the introductory novella to this series, and had very high hopes for the first full book, Magnate. I enjoyed it much, much more than I expected.
The research, the world-building and the believable characters make this one stand out from your average historical romance. Every page felt like I really was in New York City in the 1880s, from the atmosphere, to the characters’ attitudes, to the little touches of everyday life that are so different to our own.
I really love the second half of the nineteenth century as a setting, because it is somewhere between the Regency and the modern world. Technology is rapidly advancing – trains, telegrams, telephones, modern bathrooms – but the social structure is still very much in the past.
For all the rules of upper class English society, the rich and powerful in the United States were just as fanatical about social position. I love the clash of the old money heroine with the powerful self-made man. He’s rough and coarse but also brings with him a touch of those things that make modern billionaire romances so popular. He can literally destroy a person’s life with a simple order, but he never forgets where he comes from.
I think the heroine was well-written. She has ambitions beyond a high class marriage, but she still read like a woman of her time. I think the author pushed her just enough without making her into a woman from our era.
Another thing that is done well is that characters are largely nuanced. They have friends and relatives and while they might not all like each other, there’s no misogyny or melodrama going on.
I don’t need heaps (or any) sex in my books, and once it happens there’s quite a bit, but it’s well-written, and if you enjoy those scenes, you won’t find any complaints here.
You will just have to read this book to see how well history is threaded through it. It’s an amazing feat to be able to dig so deeply into a complicated career of the past – and to make a profession I find deathly boring interesting to read about!
I definitely recommend Magnate, and while you absolutely Do Not need to read the introductory novella – why not?
This will surely be one of my favourite reads of the year.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.