Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars
Series: The Fifth Avenue Rebels, #1
Release Date: March 9, 2021
Harrison Archer fled to Paris 3 years ago after being disowned by his father and then overhearing the woman he loves saying she thinks of him as a brother. Now his father is dead and Harrison returns to New York with only one thing on his mind – vengeance. Harrison has spent the last 3 years amassing a fortune and plans to buy out his family’s failing business from under them. But when he arrives home and learns that the only woman, he has ever loved is still unwed, he seemingly goes along with his mother’s demand that he marry an heiress to save the family’s fortunes. He goes as far as to ask Madeline “Maddie” Webster, his love, to help him find a bride, but make no mistake, the only woman Harrison will marry is Maddie.
Maddie was shocked and hurt when her best friend in the world up and left 3 years ago without a word, but she didn’t wallow in despair, no she made a plan – First she would take two years to become the best woman’s tennis professional in the States, then during her third “season” she would find a man to marry. And she has accomplished both, she is set to play in a national tennis tournament in June and she is on the cusp of getting engaged to the catch of the season, the Duke of Lockwood. Everything is going as planned until her long-lost best friend Harrison returns and asks her to help him find a bride. She agrees but doesn’t bargain for the feelings of seeing Harrison flirting with other women stirs up in her.
Harrison is determined to win Maddie, but he is never completely honest with her, so when they ended up married, it is no surprise to the reader when things outside the bedroom do not go well for them. Soon things come to a head and Harrison may have to face the possibility that he has lost Maddie forever.
Although the writing is great, this story was not for me. A relationship filled with miscommunication, secrets, lies, and characters jockeying for control does not make for an enjoyable romantic read – neither does a hero that gives up without a fight and decides life is not worth living without his love, yet he cables his mistress and tells her to expect him in about a week – WTH? I just can’t love a guy like that. I was so disappointed; I usually LOVE Joanna Shupe’s books – The Uptown Girls and The Four Hundred series are some of my favorite New York Gilded Age books of all time – but sadly, this book doesn’t reach the bar she set with her previous books. I did like all the secondary characters, I enjoyed the steamyish love scenes, and I liked the twist of having Maddie have a “career”. So, despite not loving this title, I have every intention of reading the future installments of this series with the fervent hope that this book was just a blip on an otherwise pristine record of successful novels.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own *