Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Review - - BARON
By Joanna Shupe
Knickerbocker Club - Book 2
Release Date: October 25, 2016
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...
Joanna Shupe returns to 1888 New York City for another terrific story in her The Knickerbocker Club series. Readers of MAGNATE will remember Will Sloane as a pompous, snobbish railroad baron and older brother of heroine, Elizabeth Sloane. In BARON, he's still obsessively driven to succeed, not only running the railroad but also running for Lieutenant Governor of New York. Unfortunately, his running mate has fallen under the spell of one Madam Zolikoff, a so-called medium. Confident of his social, financial, and intellectual superiority, Will sets out to teach the woman a lesson and expose her for the fraud she is. Little does he know that he will be the one learning the lessons.
Ava Jones may not have the money or the social connections that Will enjoys but she's one smart cookie. She dreams of a bucolic farm far from New York City where she can give her three younger siblings a good life away from the factories and gangs that threaten to pull them under. As Madam Zolikoff, she is slowly earning the funds she needs to make that dream come true. She just needs a few more months and is not about to let a stuffy know-it-all ruin everything, even if he is handsome. But then she sees flashes of generosity, how he interacts with her siblings, and begins to wonder if there isn't more to this man than what he shows the world. Will he be her worst nightmare...or the answer to her prayers?
Shupe brings the streets of New York to life in this Gilded Age story. After reading MAGNATE, I was curious as to how she was going to make Will into an appealing hero. She not only succeeded, she kept me flipping pages far into the night to find out what would happen next. Ava is a wonderful character and the perfect match for Will. I love how she keeps him on his toes and is a constant reminder that the world does not revolve around him. Shupe skillfully reveals the hidden depths of Will throughout the story, allowing us glimpses into the childhood that molded him into a man driven to prove his father wrong. He's much more complex than I expected him to be.
BARON stands well on its own but I think readers will have a richer reading experience if they read MAGNATE first as characters from MAGNATE have pivotal roles in this book. If you're looking for an American historical romance, rich in history, with vibrant characters, a fast-paced story, snappy dialogue, and a sigh-worthy romance, look no further than Joanna Shupe's BARON...and MAGNATE!