Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review: MAGNATE by Joanna Shupe

by Joanna Shupe
The Knickerbockers Club #1

New York City’s Gilded Age shimmers with unimaginable wealth and glittering power. The men of the Knickerbocker Club know this more than anyone else. But for one millionaire, the business of love is not what he expected…

Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.

Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor...

I am used to reading historicals.  I love historical novels.  I majored in history in college and went to graduate school to study U.S. History.  What strikes me is that often in the romance world, "historical" novels default to European stories, especially the Regency Era.  However, Joanna Shupe reminds us that there are plenty of stories to be told in the Gilded Age of U.S. History.  It is the era between the Civil War and World War I when industrialization made people very wealthy.  It is the time of glamour and corruption.  Those in high society had very strict social norms that rivaled the British ton.  This is also the age of Horatio Alger - the rags to riches stories that fuel the belief of meritocracy.  The Gilded Age has so many possibilities. 

I really enjoy the evolution of our main characters.  Emmett Cavanaugh is our Horatio Alger-esque hero who grows up in the Five Points slums to become one of the riches men in New York City.  A member of the Knickerbocker Club, this elite group of men wield their influence to shape the politics and business in New York City and beyond.  These men are the movers and shakers of their age.  

Elizabeth Sloan bristles under the restrictions society has for women.  Those who defy the norm are often outcasts or are seen with suspicion.  However, Elizabeth is determine to forge her own path in the world of finance. She only needs someone to give her a chance. 

I love strong and smart female characters and Elizabeth easily fits the bill.  I enjoy her tenacity and her ability to outsmart the men in her life.  She is adventurous and unconventional.  Emmett is hardworking and hard-edged, but a loving brother.  He is totally focused on his business but with her, he feels alive: "...she'd burned hot and bright, a live electric change in his arms. A jolt of current that reached the long-dead places inside him." The relationship takes us through a gamut of emotions and it reaches a truly satisfying end.  

This book triggered a fascination from me to learn more about this age.  I can't wait to get to the next book.  

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