Series: The Knickerbocker Club #2
Published by Zebra on October 25th 2016
FINAL DECISION: I liked the quirky heroine who is strong willed-independent and a survivor. She completely upends the ordered life of the hero who is a bit of a difficult character to like at first. Ultimately, I liked their romance but it was a bit of a trial for me to get there.
THE STORY: The heir to old money William Sloane is a railroad baron who has decided to run for state government. In order to protect his running mate, however, he has to cut the tie his running mate has with a medium Madam Zolikoff who William knows is a fraud. When William approaches Madam Zolikoff, he finds Ava Jones (who works under the pseudonym). Ava is working as a medium in order to support her orphaned siblings. William is reluctantly intrigued by the spirited Ava even as he knows that he has to marry a woman of his own class; Ava is wary of William after having been burned by a man before.
OPINION: I thought this novel had a new story to tell because of its setting and time. The characters and situation felt fresh even as the cross-class story of a rich aristocratic man and lower class woman is familiar. These characters and their situation was new.
Ava was my favorite in the book. She is so strong and determined. A woman who has carried a heavy burden of caring for her family, she has done well for herself. She knows she is skirting the edge of wrongdoing with her medium act, but she tries to be the most honest she can. I loved her relationship with her siblings and her fears and desperation when it comes for being responsible for them. I felt for her after her abandonment by her lover and understood her stances as she tries to balance her desires with her fears and her responsibilities.
Will was a more difficult character for me to like. He was a jerk in the last book and he doesn’t start out much better here (actually, he might be worse). Self-righteous, entitled, self-indulgent, he looks down on Ava from the start. As the story continues, I began to have, if not sympathy, then understanding of his actions. By the end of the book, I felt he had changed enough to be worthy of Ava, but the time it took to get there diminished my interest in the book somewhat.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book has some fascinating history about the prevalence of spiritual mediums at the time and takes place amidst the corruption of Tammany Hall.
CONNECTED BOOKS: BARON is the second book in the Knickerbocker Club series. It can be read as a standalone although I recommend reading book 1 first just to learn more about the characters.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.