“Baron” the second book in the “Knickerbocker Club” series is what romance novel dreams are made of! I’ve just recently started to read Joanna Shupe and have really enjoyed her novels. The first book in the series “Magnate” was so good I have been counting down to Baron. I can honestly say I had so many expectations for this book and Shupe surpassed them all. Set in the Gilded Age in New York City, Shupe really brings the historical time period to life.
William Sloane is such an arrogant snob that it was delicious to see him brought to his knees by Ava. William is the stodgy older brother we meet in “ Magnate.” He was born into a rich family, manages a very profitable railroad, all of New York City societies doors are lined with gold for him. His next step is the political life. He is ready to become a politician and has decided to stop at nothing and definitely doesn’t plan to let a little nobody like Madame Zolikoff get in his way. The opening scene was so good! I loved the tension between William and Ava / Madame Zolikoff even before they met! When they did finally meet, sparks flew. Ava was just the right character to ruffle William’s feathers!
Ava is the exact opposite of Will. She is struggling to keep a roof over her family’s head. She adopted the Madame Zolikoff persona so that she could move her siblings out of the city. When Will’s running mate starts to consult her for fortune telling Will is concerned that if word gets out their campaign will be ruined. Will tries to buy her off, intimidate her and convincer her to leave John Bennett alone. Ava refuses to be managed or bullied by Will and even when he tries to pay her off, she refuses to budge. Ava has encountered a lot of obstacles in her life and she is not about to let “railroad man” William Sloan get the best of her! She refuses to back down and meets his threats head on! The scenes with William and Ava are always filled with passion and humor. I really loved Ava! She is determined to help her siblings make a better life. Although mere children, they are forced to work in factories and under very bad conditions. Ava is a fraud. She is presenting herself as a fortune teller and is very successful. She is also very exposed because her name is very popular and this leads to many difficult predicaments for her. Shupe really brings the time period to life. It was interesting to read about the notorious corruption at Tammy Hall. There were so many scenes I loved in this book. One of my all-time favorites was when William reads Ava’s fortune. This scene was a perfect mixture of their tension and tenderness. There were so many witty lines and sweet moments, I could re-read this book over and over! Definitely one of my favorite reads for this year. Now the countdown continues to “Mogul.” Calvin’s story sounds intriguing and I can’t wait to see how the author brings together him and Lillian.