America’s Gilded Age (1870-1900)

A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe

A Scandalous Deal (The Four Hundred, #2)A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars (I would give it more if I could!)

Series: The Four Hundred, #2

Release Date: April 24, 2018

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!

Lady Eva Hyde, daughter of the famous architect E.M. Hyde, Lord Cassell and the holder of the unfortunately nickname Lady Unlucky (because of her 3 deceased fiancés) is on her way to New York to oversee the biggest project of her career. Too bad everyone believes it is her father’s design.

Eva meets Phillip on the ship, she literally runs into him she introduces herself as Evelyn and helps him with his sea sickness, days later during a storm, they meet again and after too much champagne, they share a passionate encounter. Phillip tries to find her the next morning, but she is gone.

Phillip Mansfield is the owner and developer of the hotel, the Mansfield Hotel will be his legacy, he has hired only the best for the project, including famed architect E.M. Hyde. He is back in New York and ready to start his hotel project, but he can’t stop thinking of Evelyn, so when she arrives on his job site, he is shocked and then angry when he learns who she is. Phillip cannot abide deceit, he has been burned by a woman before and has a real problem trusting any woman. He takes Eva back to his office and learns that her father is ill and sent her in his place. Eva doesn’t reveal the truth about her father’s illness or that she is in fact the true designer of the hotel. Phillip agrees to let her stay on as long as she promises to stay in constant contact with her father and that she doesn’t use her real name, she agrees, she needs this job, her father is no longer competent, his memory is gone and Eva has been designing projects under his name for two years. Added to that is the fact he needs constant care and due to poor financial decisions, they are practically penniless. She cannot lose this job! They also agree to keep their relationship professional and forget about what they shared on the ship. Phillip suggests they consider themselves friends.

Eva is staying with her dear friend Lady Nora (heroine from the first book) and confesses all to her, Nora tells her she should tell Phillip the truth, but Eva wants time to prove herself. But that is going to be difficult, it seems that everyone is against her running the project. Union reps threaten Phillip, the General Contractor causes problems with her and demands that Phillip keeps her off the site, which causes problem with his relationship with Eva.

Phillip has other problems besides Eva, his mother is pushing Miss. Rebecca Hall in his path, he has told his mother repeatedly that he doesn’t want to marry. Becca is a lovely woman, but he feels nothing for her besides friendship. He knows Becca doesn’t want him either, but when he learns why, he agrees to “court” her to keep their parents at bay.

When Eva meets with the city building inspector and irons out the problems that have shut down the project. Phillip invites her out to celebrate, he wants an affair, but the risk is too high for her. He asks her to consider it. He takes her to see the new Madison Square Garden building and she is awed. She is touched that Phillip knows her so well and decides to take the risk and they embark on a heated affair.

Things are moving along, both personally and professionally for them, but Eva feels guilty about her lies, she decides to tell Phillip everything, but before she can, everything falls apart.

With her life in shambles, Eva flees to Newport and gets advice and support from an unexpected source. She returns to New York, intent on righting her wrongs.

Phillip will have to face some hard truths and make some serious decisions, is he willing to swallow his pride and grovel? Will that be enough to save his hotel and win back the woman he loves?

This book was fantastic, I couldn’t put it down once I started reading, there is a lot going on, but it never feels busy and the story stays on track even with all the little side plots and twists and turns. It is well written, flows perfectly, has steamy love scenes, a little angst, betrayal, some heartache, lies, secrets, drama, witty banter, great secondary characters, a great epilogue and a very, very hard won HEA.

This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title. I cannot recommend this book enough, it is definitely going on my re-read list!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher*

A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred, #1)A Daring Arrangement by Joanna Shupe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Four Hundred #1
Publication Date: 10/31/17

What an engrossing start to a new series! The writing is excellent, the setting is elegant, the characters are interesting and engrossing, the villain is unexpected and the HEA is hard-won – what more could you ask for in any book.

This story is set in a different time and place than I usually enjoy, but I loved it anyway. America’s Gilded Age had brash Americans making and spending money hand-over-fist. It was the day of the Astor’s and the others in the 400 which is comparable to the Regency period’s ton. Ostentatious is the word that comes to mind – bigger jewels, bigger homes, bigger everything.

Lady Honora Parker is the daughter of an Earl. She’s had a lonely life – her mother died when she was very young and her father pretty much ignored her. Then finally, she found someone who paid attention to her and she was sure she was in love with him. So, she staged a scene where she was to be discovered and ruined so her father would allow her to marry Robert. However, her father was sure Robert was a fortune hunter, so instead of forcing a marriage, he sent her to America to stay with her Aunt and Uncle. He fully expected her to find a husband there.

Nora is one very stubborn lady and is determined to come up with a plot that will force her father to call her home. Her solution – find the absolutely biggest rake and profligate she can find and forge a ‘fake’ engagement with him. She needs someone who is so totally unacceptable that her father will call her home immediately.

While out to dinner with her aunt and uncle, Nora keeps hearing loud clomps coming from the ceiling. Was the place going to fall down around their ears? No, it was just Julius Hatcher and his friends having a party on the second floor. Aha! Julius Hatcher is just the man she needs!

She manages to sneak up to the second floor to corner Mr. Hatcher and make him a proposition he just can’t refuse. Her first glimpse of the party is priceless. There are 20 men on horses – in the ballroom – they were in black evening suits, silk hats, and eating off trays secured to saddles. After a brief conversation, Julius falls off his horse, onto the floor, passed out dead drunk at her feet. Oh! Yes! He was exactly the man she needed.

Julius Hatcher is one of the richest men in New York and he has earned every dime of that money himself. He came from humble beginnings and an uncaring family. His mother actually seemed to hate him because he was successful. Julius’ father had been a trusting man who believed that a handshake was as good as a contract – and then he got into a deal with some Knickerbockers and lost all of the family money. Julius wanted revenge for that and needed entry to the upper echelons of society. So, he had his own reasons for accepting Nora’s proposal.

You’ll love Aunt Bea – she is a sharp and crafty old lady. She’s just an older, craftier version of Nora.

I loved the banter and one of my favorite things was when Julius told Nora, “You cannot bring the tiger indoors and expect him to act as a house cat, my lady.”

Julius and Nora have a lot to overcome, but they are drawn to each other. Can each of them overcome their pasts to forge a happy future? You’ll just have to read this delightful book to find out!

“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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