Romance in the Gilded Age: “Magnate”

26025622Magnate by Joanna Shupe
Zebra: April 26, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

Beach Vacation
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Elizabeth Sloane is a well-bred socialite; however, as readers soon discover, there’s more to Elizabeth than fashion, gossip, and social calls. Elizabeth is looking for more out of life than her station offers. Instead, Elizabeth wants to open her own stock trading company, in part, due to the fact that her brother’s company appears to be in trouble, and also because she wants to put her brain to work. When her brother denies her wish to open shop, Elizabeth approaches Emmett Cavanaugh, a rich and powerful figure that rose from the slums of Five Points to Fifth Avenue. Little does Elizabeth know that Emmett is no friend of her brothers and decides to help her open her company for reasons of his own.

Initially, Elizabeth and Emmett conspire to create a business partnership; however, private dinners and conspiring family members soon transform this arrangement into a compromising situation. One hasty wedding later, Elizabeth and Emmett are unhappily wed. There is an attraction between them, but multiple misunderstanding on the part of both parties work against the couple. At least, until a snow storm rolls into town…As an avid reader of the historical romance genre, it’s refreshing to change the setting every once in awhile. In Magnate, readers are taken to New York in 1887 and immersed in the doings of high society. Since the bulk of my historical romance reading tends to be across the pond, Magnate was a refreshing read based on the setting alone. And the author does a really good job at using this setting to it’s full advantage. Shupe includes tons of details about life in the Gilded Age New York, and this worked to create a heightened sense of place that isn’t always present in the historical romance genre.

Apart from the setting, the characters were also compelling. I’m a sucker for the whole “compromised” trope and the author uses to complicate the relationship between Elizabeth and Emmett. There’s a lot of turmoil on the part of both Elizabeth and Emmett after they’ve been forced to marry. Each questions the other’s true thoughts about the marriage, which leads to a lot of misunderstanding between them. At times, I found the reliance on misunderstandings to be a touch tedious, but on the whole, it developed the relationship between Emmett and Elizabeth quite nicely.

Magnate marks the start of a great new series from this author. The characters are interested and developed and the sense of time and place are used as more than window dressing. If you’re a fan of the “compromised” trope at all, Magnate is a must read.

Similar Reads

Emmett goes through a lot of “I’m not good enough for her” thinking and this put me in mind of Lisa Kleypas’ hero Derek Craven in Dreaming of You. While not set in Gilded Age New York, Kleypas’ romantic couple is similar to Emmett and Elizabeth.

Dreaming of You (The Gamblers, #2)

While The Gilded Hour is not a category romance, it is set in the same time period as Magnate. Those that were intrigued by the historical atmosphere of Magnate will appreciate a deeper look at the social conditions of New York during this time. See my full review here.

The Gilded Hour

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