Joanna Shupe returns to the blog today with the third in The Four Hundred series, a reference to the Social Register of New York, a listing of the ‘titled and worthy’. Set in the Gilded Age before the turn of the century, please read on for my review of
A Notorious Vow
I think I started reading this author with her debut in 2015 – and I’ve tried not to miss anything from her pen since. In this story, historic romance is a bit different from the norm – as we have moved London born ladies to the colonies, currently in the growth spurt that characterized the American rise on the landscape, with untold wealth, frenzied construction and a desperate determination by some to hold onto their own version of “society’. Christina Barclay is possessed of a title, but little else, with a father who is an inveterate gambler – in fact, their last pennies were spent on passage to New York where Christina is to make a match, a profitable match that will restore the family coffers. Unhappy with her father’s choice of husband, and uncomfortable with the thought of society and facing all those people, this young woman feels as if there are no options. She’s desperately shy and prefers quiet walks in the neighbors garden, with only the company of the reclusive Oliver to hand. He’s not prone to ask her too much, or to share of himself – and that suits her just fine.
Oliver is reclusive and removed from the world others wish him to inhabit. As a wealthy and single male, he should be the toast of the town – but he’s got no time, nor patience for the trappings and folderol of the ‘in crowd’. His hearing loss makes crowds difficult, and take away from his true purpose – the one he spends hours on – inventing an aid for hearing loss – and bringing help to many. His only actual diversion in his self-imposed remove is the young English girl who walks in his garden – and her tales of the man she is to marry. She’s disturbed by the marriage – the man is four times her age and not attractive to her in the least – while she can’t expect ‘much’ from an arranged marriage, she doesn’t want to live in her married life as she has under her parent’s roof. But soon – this won’t be an issue as she and Oliver are discovered – alone and unchaperoned. Ruination for her – unless Oliver marries her. He’s not so put off by the idea – and decides that it will solve his friend’s problem – and he’s got money to burn. What could go wrong when he promises to leave her with a healthy settlement after a year?
These two are so well suited and Shupe brings in a wealthy man who isn’t developing property – and has eschewed the ‘social niceties’ to invent something to help others as well as himself – hearing loss in itself is isolating – perhaps even more so before the modern developments. And Christina is shy, true, but her determination to make this a real marriage – far beyond the guidelines of friendship that respects his privacy that Oliver expects. It is she that has to become the ‘alpha’ as their relationship is built – finding how to push and prod him into situations and revelations that he’d perhaps not want. But her true strength comes when her family makes a play for Oliver’s money, and she has to fight for her husband and her marriage against them. A true test of her growth that shows just how badly she wants to make a life with this man. Fortunately, Oliver has started to see that he’s desiring more than just friendship from Christina – and realizes that their early days were signs for so much more. Lovely characters, solid descriptions and a conflict that showed both Oliver and Christina at their very best, together – the story was a wonderful breath of fresh air – with plenty of moments to intrigue.
Title: A Notorious Vow
Author: Joanna Shupe
Series: The Four Hundred #3
Also in this series: A Scandalous Deal
Genre: Gilded Age, Historical Romance, Setting: American
Published by: Avon
Published on: 25 September, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 8 Hours: 49 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google ♦Audible
Joanna Shupe returns to New York City’s Gilded Age, where fortunes and reputations are gained and lost with ease—and love can blossom from the most unlikely charade
With the fate of her disgraced family resting on her shoulders, Lady Christina Barclay has arrived in New York City from London to quickly secure a wealthy husband. But when her parents settle on an intolerable suitor, Christina turns to her reclusive neighbor, a darkly handsome and utterly compelling inventor, for help.
Oliver Hawkes reluctantly agrees to a platonic marriage . . . with his own condition: The marriage must end after one year. Not only does Oliver face challenges that are certain to make life as his wife difficult, but more importantly, he refuses to be distracted from his life’s work—the development of a revolutionary device that could transform thousands of lives, including his own.
Much to his surprise, his bride is more beguiling than he imagined. When temptation burns hot between them, they realize they must overcome their own secrets and doubts, and every effort to undermine their marriage, because one year can never be enough.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.