October 31, 2017

High stakes, high society

By Joanna Shupe
Review by

Joanna Shupe spins a clever, opulent tale in the first book of her Four Hundred series.

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Joanna Shupe spins a clever, opulent tale in the first book of her Four Hundred series, A Daring Arrangement.

The year is 1890. Lady Nora Parker is the daughter of an earl who is sent to America when her father sees her together with Robert, a commoner. She can return to London once she finds an upstanding man to marry. Nora, determined to reunite with Robert, contrives a plan guaranteed to get her father’s attention—feigning an engagement with the “outrageous and improper” financier, Julius Hatcher. Julius has no intention of marrying, but agrees to Nora’s arrangement if she helps ingratiate him into high society. Problems develop when Nora’s schemes to create scathing gossip constantly go awry, but the one thing she doesn’t expect is falling in love with Julius.

Shupe presents a set of flawed yet absolutely charming, well-developed lead characters in her new series. Weaving in a variety of aspects that capture the Gilded Age, A Daring Arrangement balances the glamour and the glitz with the reality of the social norms that stifled men and women during this era. Nora is surrounded with wealth and prestige, but at a great price since they dictate her individuality. Julius may be a wizard with numbers, but smarts don’t always win out, especially if you’re not a blue blood. Shupe slowly builds the sexual tension as both Julius and Nora refuse to admit their feelings for each other, yet find themselves growing inexorably closer. With its witty, revealing dialogue and fascinating looks at both high and low society in turn of the century America, A Daring Arrangment is a highly entertaining and engaging read.

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