Review: Baron by Joanna Shupe


Title: Baron (The Knickerbocker Club #2)
Author: Joanna Shupe
Date of publication: 25 Oct 2016
Genre: Historical romance, Gilded Age

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My rating: 4.5 Stars


New York City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .

Born into one of New York’s most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .

Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As “Madame Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .


This is both my first book by Joanna Shupe and my first Gilded Age romance. It's the second book in the Knickerbocker series set in New York of 1890s. I didn't know what to expect of this book but I ended up loving everything about it - the story, the characters, the romance and the political intrigues, the writing.

What I like about good historical romances is how well they can recreate the atmosphere of the times. And to my delight this was very much the case here. Ms Shupe provided of vivid portrayal of the changing times at the end pf the 19th century - the nouveaux riches vs the aristocracy, the changing roles of men and women in society/business and how this affected the personal relationships between them.

The story of Will and Ava follows the well familiar trope of rich upper-class man falling for the poor working-class woman doing everything possible to provide for her family but there is so much more to it.

I found both Will and Ava to be fascinating characters. He is driven and determined, very much focused on his business empire and budding political career which makes him appear all too rigid and cold on the outside, seemingly caring all too much about propriety and good manners and public opinion, yet he finds her totally irresistible. As the story develops we see that he is human like the rest of us, with his failings and mistakes, strengths and deeply buried hurts he is struggling to overcome.

Ava is all fire and spunk. She is doing everything in her powers (even walking the thin edge of illegal by pretending to be a medium) to take care of her younger siblings, to provide the best possible life for them. Even at the expense of her own happiness. Past hurt has made her cautious and wary of men but then Will enters her life ...

I loved the romance between them so much - it is a kind of an enemies-to-lovers story full of sexual chemistry neither of whom can/wants to deny yet they both guard their hearts (for different reasons) till the end. Will and Ava challenge each other all the time, keep each other on their toes and I absolutely loved this aspect of their relationship - smart, witty banter, constant opposition often resolved with all-consuming love-making.

We get glimpses of the political struggles at the times. of the social divisions and changes and I found this aspect of the story just as fascinating as the romance itself. Overall this is a fast-paced story with engaging characters and intriguing plot. 

There were lots of plot twists and turns which kept me reading on, wanting to see how things will sort out for those two. And they did in an unexpected and absolutely brilliant way.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N/ Kobo / Ibooks

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