AUTHOR(S): Joanna Shupe
SERIES: Knickerbocker Club #2
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE: October 25, 2016
LENGTH: 352 pages
DATE READ: October 2016
READING CHALLENGES: 2016 Pick Your Genre Reading Challenge
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Alpha Hero, Con Artist Heroine
TROPES: Class Differences, Enemies to Lovers
RATING: 4.25 STARS
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 “Madame 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 . . .MY THOUGHTS:
Why I Read It...
Class differences are always going to make me want to read a book plus I love the Gilded Age setting of the Knickerbocker Club series. I also enjoy Joanna Shupe's penchant for reforming bad boy heroes and was intrigued by the fact that the heroine earns money by acting as a medium for the upper echelon of New York society.
What I Liked About It...
1.The heroine, Ava, was just fantastic! I loved her ambition and determination to keep her family safe, no matter what. I thought her ways of "conning" the audience were very clever and showed a real observant mind. I also liked that she was willing to listen to differing opinions regarding her chosen profession while also not letting others walk all over her.
2. Shupe has developed a reputation (at least for me) of reforming bad boys so I had high expectations for the development of Will Sloane. While reading Magnate, I admired his devotion to his younger sister despite the fact that he was an ass the rest of the time. Will had a rough childhood, even though it seemed charmed on the outside, and he was dealing with linger issues the best he could. I liked the fact that he was a genuinely good person underneath his arrogant rich guy persona and his relationship with Ava allowed him to be more comfortable letting that show.
3. Ava and Will's romance was full of chemistry. They clicked from their very first meeting and the continuous banter just amped up the tension. And, once they crossed that bridge, there was no looking back. I really liked the way that the steaminess of their physical relationship balanced with the growing emotional feelings they had towards one another. I also felt like they helped each other learn how to be a better person which I enjoyed.
4. Family was a big theme in this book and I thought the depiction of both Ava and Will's siblings to be well-done. Each of them were fully realized characters and had important roles to play in the overall story. Ava's siblings were key to showing why she kept up with her Madam Zolikoff persona and Will's sister helped bring out his softer side before the romance really got going.
5. Like with Tycoon and Magnate, I thoroughly enjoyed the setting. It feels so fresh after I have read so many Regency-era romances to have something slightly more modern and in a city that I actually have visited. I also liked the little historical details that the author threw in. This book specifically deals with the corrupt political scene in New York at the time with Tammany Hall and how people (such as the hero) tried to combat it.
What I Disliked About It...
1. The pacing of the romance felt a bit off towards the end, but that is a minor quibble.
Would I Recommend It...
I would absolutely recommend this book to readers who want a different historical setting and liked to read about arrogant rich guys falling in love with their polar opposite. The heroine is smart, feisty, and makes me want to be her friend. I love this series and can't wait for the next installment.
I received an eARC of this book from Zebra via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.