3.5 / 5 stars
Read in August 2019
Book #1 in the Uptown Girls series
Overall I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to a friend if they were interested in a historical romance set in the US. (As someone who just started reading romance about a year ago, this was the first historical romance I’ve read set outside of the UK!)
Joanna Shupe is an amazing historical writer and it was clear she did a lot of research in creating Mamie and Frank’s world. It really made 1890’s NYC come to life. Mamie was a likeable heroine, brave and unafraid to stand up for herself and others. I was equally intrigued by her sisters Florence and Justine, who were not in the story enough for my liking and whose books I will most likely read when they’re released.
I also appreciated the parallels between the Porters’ situation and what is currently happening at the US border – the separation of families and children testifying in court. The story parallels were strong enough to understand the connection without being too in-your-face.
However, I was disappointed to find that I liked the first half of the book much more than the second. Frank’s persistence that “I’m going to marry you, Mamie, and I won’t take no for an answer” got under my skin, as it didn’t seem like he was actually listening to her. I enjoyed the love scenes, but would’ve liked them to be longer (who wouldn’t).
**spoilers/ trigger warning: assault** This brings me to my biggest critique of the book: the scene in which a drunken Chauncey attempts to rape Mamie one evening. She fights back and escapes, however the incident does not add to Mamie’s character development and ultimately serves to impact the male characters around her. The assault was a plot device to 1) remind us Chauncey was a terrible person, which we already knew, 2) give Frank a reason to beat up Chauncey (which was unnecessary), and 3) FINALLY make Mamie’s father agree to call off the arranged marriage. It was messed up that he refused to consider what his “favorite” daughter said and wanted until she was literally assaulted, and that’s what made him change his mind.
Despite these criticisms, it was an overall enjoyable read. Thank you, Joanna Shupe, for being a wonderful writer and creating a fun cast of characters in a vibrant world. I am definitely looking forward to Florence’s story in The Prince of Broadway!