From veteran historical novelist Argers (Noblesse Oblige, not reviewed, etc.), a love story that reads like a boxing match with many bruising rounds. Set in the months before and after the 1876 Centennial, in the heart of the Gilded Age, the story is lavishly embellished with period furbelows. Details of fashion—bustles are hot; society hostesses vie to give extravagantly glitzy parties—pad the rather schematic tale of "Gilded Lily" Nina De Bonnard. As it begins, the beautiful, rich, and independent-minded Nina is spending the summer in the family mansion on the Jersey shore. She has scads of suitors and no intention of marrying any of them. But when worldly Jordan Windsor returns from Europe, she finds herself reluctantly attracted. Since true love can't run smooth, the two are kept apart by deception for most of the narrative—Jordan, for example, in order to help his brother (who's in love with Nina), deliberately courts Nina's younger sister Adele, then ends up breaking the younger sibling's heart and angering Nina. The would-be lovers are also obstructed by rumor (Jordan is supposed to be engaged to another), by illness (Nina takes sick and can't recall the promises she made in her delirium to the visiting Jordan), and by sundry machinations: malicious letters are sent, other messages not delivered. Along the way, Nina creates quite a life for herself when she flees the shore for the city and becomes a chronicler of fashionable life for a newspaper under the moniker of The Gilded Lily. Jordan also discovers a taste for journalism and politics in Washington, while he tries to forget Nina. . . which of course he can't. More glitter than gold.
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