Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match—leaving her free to marry the artist she loves. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier, Julius Hatcher, of course…
Julius is intrigued by Nora’s ruse and decides to play along. But to Nora’s horror, Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiancé, charming the very people she hoped he would offend. It seems Julius has a secret plan all his own—one that will solve a dark mystery from his past, and perhaps turn him into the kind of man Nora could truly love.
I love books set in the Gilded Age. Specifically, I love books set in the Gilded Age when they are written by Joanna Shupe.
This is a big, dramatic story set in a big, opulent period in history, in New York – the centre of all the wealth and craziness of the end of the nineteenth century.
The hero is one of my favourite types: the self-made man. I love them when they occasionally pop up in historical romances set in England (e.g. Secrets of a Summer Night and Marrying Winterborne), and America-set books are the perfect place for this type of character.
Julius has risen up from nothing to live a crazy life of wealth, while Nora is from English aristocracy – new and old worlds. I liked that Shupe managed to make Nora a bit wild and too independent for her time *without* making her anachronistic – a feat historical romance authors struggle with.
The late nineteenth century is such an exciting time in history. It has all the olde worlde feel we want in the genre, but technology has seriously advanced since the Regency, and there’s an energy about everything as the world moves towards the twentieth century. Shupe captures this so well.
I appreciated two things in particular in this book:
#1 The way the romance developed.
This was a fake engagement, with neither character actually wanting to marry the other. However, they evolved and were willing to own up to the changes in their opinions.
#2 The women.
The hero has a mistress, whom he dumps for the heroine. However, the two women are never nasty or vicious to each other. This has been a SLOW evolution in fiction – authors (and readers) love their misogynistic stereotyping. I was so happy to see that Shupe chose a different route.
If I have a little niggle, it’s that some might find the climax of the story just a teeny bit over the top – but then, you may not…
Oh, and I really wish we didn’t have Victorian English characters saying “snuck”. Shupe is wonderful with her characters speaking different versions of English, but sometimes she slips with the Americanisms…
As soon as I knew this book was coming out I knew I would love it – and I did.
Now I can’t wait for the next book in the series.