New York City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .
Born into one of New York’s most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .
Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As “Madam Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .
I was very, very excited about this book, and was not disappointed. I’ve loved the first book (and introductory novella) in this series, LOVE the era (1880s) and setting (the big money and influential families of New York), and knew it was going to be excellent.
This is a very exciting time period, and one that is almost totally overlooked by historical romance authors. It’s got all the appeal of the contemporary billionaire theme, but set in nineteenth century NYC it also has all the appeal of the duke trope – but with a different set of rules.
New York is very much a character of the series, with all the power and corruption that comes with it. I especially like how the rich (like the hero) experience the city so differently to the poor (like the heroine).
The research is fantastic. I was wary about a medium as a heroine, just as I was worried in the first book that the heroine wanted to work on the stock market – these aren’t things that usually interest me. However, the author takes unusual themes I wouldn’t read in other books, and makes them interesting.
I loved that the stuffy brother of the first book was the love interest here, and I especially loved that his character was so distinct – he certainly didn’t become your standard historical hero. What other book would have a hero stop in the middle of a sex scene with ‘I beg your pardon’?!
That this is in many ways a more progressive time and place than the traditional historical romance setting of the Regency, it makes for interesting characters. I love the late Victorian era, especially because technology was developing so fast, and there’s always something new and exciting to discover.
One little thing I noticed was that the heroine hadn’t shared one of her secrets with the hero by the end of the book. I know she’d have done it eventually, but I wouldn’t have minded reading that scene.
However, I can’t be negative about this book or this series. It’s one that stays with you, and it’s one of those special series that definitely stands out – for about a million reasons.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.