First in a new Gilded Age romance series by an author who made her name reviving interest in this overlooked historical setting.
Marion “Mamie” Greene is a Knickerbocker princess, the precious oldest daughter of one of New York’s leading families, destined to marry one of fin de siècle New York’s richest young men. Mamie dutifully accepts the betrothal, but she cannot repress the independent streak that takes her far from her uptown mansion and into the most dangerous parts of the city. The Five Points area teems with impoverished immigrants who get no sympathy from rich industrialists and little assistance in keeping order from the brutal metropolitan police. Mamie is determined to offer what help she can, at great personal risk, regardless of the disapproval of her father’s attorney, Frank Tripp. Frank is determined to keep Mamie safe and compliant until the wedding, but he is irresistibly attracted to her spirit and directness, not to mention her stunning beauty. Despite his own destitute beginnings in the slums, he finds in Mamie a kindred spirit. Between his work for her father and their mutual interest in uncovering the culprit in the murder of a Five Points woman the police seem unusually reluctant to investigate, Frank and Mamie have the opportunity to explore their feelings, memorably during a midnight game of billiards in his Fifth Avenue mansion. With a law practice composed largely of acrimonious divorce cases, Frank declares, “I’ll never marry. I have no intention of failing at fidelity.” The setup promises both an exciting emotional revolution for Frank and strong sexual tension, but the romance falls flat, and the sexual scenes are so clinical that even the heroine muses, “Hmm. When this whole business started, she’d assumed they would be consumed by passion.”
A passionless pairing dulls an otherwise interesting setting and premise.