By Joanna Schupe
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Over the next few days, Clara and Ted come to know each other better. The attraction that sparked with that first kiss between strangers grows exponentially. But trust grows more slowly, and Clara remains in danger. Can love really conquer all?
If I were evaluating this as a standalone, I would award it 3.5 stars. I love the characters, and the premise, but the novella format allows for development for both that is too thin for my taste. However, as a teaser for a new series, this novella is highly effective. It certainly captured my attention and left me eager to read the first novel in the series. For this reason, I gave Tycoon five stars.
By Joanna Schupe
Release date: April 26, 2016
Cavanaugh rose from brutal poverty and an early childhood spent in the squalor of the infamous Five Points. Ruthless and driven, from the age of twelve, he devoted himself to ensuring that he and his three siblings escaped the hunger and violence of life in America’s first urban ghetto. He started working in a steel mill, and he ended up owning it and much more. Cavanaugh is first amused and then intrigued by Elizabeth. He consents not to her initial proposal but to a wager with her shares in her family’s company as her stake. He is conscious, as is Elizabeth, of the strong attraction that sizzles between them, but each thinks the social gulf between them cannot be bridged.
The scandal that began with their first dinner meeting intensifies with their business association. The result is a forced marriage and two unhappy partners. The conflicts between these two strong characters are real, and misunderstandings abound. But even Mother Nature appears to know that Elizabeth and Emmett belong together and helps them reach their HEA. (I do love a snowstorm in a romance.)
I have long wished for the return of the non-Western American historical romance, and I am delighted to see more in this subgenre being offered in recent months. I find the Gilded Age a fascinating period. I even briefly considered making Edith Wharton the focus of my dissertation. You can then imagine how pleased I was to learn that Schupe was setting a series in 1880s New York City. My expectations were high, and Schupe met them beautifully. She does a wonderful job of world building, from her descriptions of the opulent homes of the wealthy to the backroom meetings of the powerful who are not overly particular about using ethical means to achieve their goals. Lest some reader complain that Elizabeth’s triumph is unrealistic, Schupe provides an author’s note that briefly recounts her real life model.
Elizabeth and Emmett are complex, layered characters who held my interest from the first pages. I found her likeable and sympathetic. Although Emmett is not always likeable, he is always compelling, and, given what readers know of him, he remains true to his character. My one reservation is that I would like to have seen his character explored a bit more fully. The secondary characters add depth to the story. I especially loved Emmett’s family, and I eagerly await Baron, the third novel in the series, which will feature William Sloane, Elizabeth’s brother, and a fake medium.
If you are a fan of cross-class romances or the forced marriage trope, if you are captivated by Gilded Age tales, or if you like historical romance that combines the tried and true with the fresh and new, I highly recommend Magnate. I liked it so well that I have pre-ordered Baron (October 25, 2016). It has a political element! I can’t wait!