A wild and bold uptown girl meets her match in a brooding casino owner bent on revenge against her family in this Gilded Age romance.
The Bronze House is the most famous and exclusive casino in fin de siècle New York City, attracting the social elite to its tables while enriching its powerful, enigmatic owner, Clayton Madden. Clayton rose from poverty up through the criminal underworld to amass his fortune, and he uses manipulation and physical violence to maintain it. Clayton is driven by revenge: He plans to ruin Duncan Greene, the wealthy builder who razed his childhood home to build a factory. Complicating this plan is the arrival of uptown debutante Florence Greene to the Bronze House. Florence is bored by society life and views marriage as a gilded cage. Inspired by playing euchre in her grandmother’s parlors, she dreams of opening an elegant casino for women but needs tutelage in business and gaming. Cold and unfeeling Clay is unexpectedly taken with Florence’s beauty, skill at gambling, and determination. Shupe (The Rogue of Fifth Avenue, 2019, etc.) dispenses with contrived conflict by having Clay inform Florence of his revenge plot and of his intention to seduce her if she will have him: “Your smile could electrify every street in the city.” Drawn to Clay’s intelligence, brute strength, and rugged good looks, Florence hopes to deter him from the revenge plan, if not the seduction. The plot gallops delightfully through the brothels, casinos, fancy restaurants, and elegant salons of New York. As Clay and Florence grow closer, in part via sex scenes as blistering hot as they are inventive, in part via witty banter and genuine friendship, it becomes harder to separate their relationship from his need for revenge, and they must both rethink their loyalties and goals.
An absolute ace, guaranteed to thrill fans of great gambling-house romances by Sarah MacLean and Lisa Kleypas.