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The privileged members of the Knickerbocker Club can never climb too high up the social ladder. But for one charming New York bachelor, does the ascent take precedence over love in the Gilded Age?
As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess—and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants . . .
Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she’ll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm’s length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious powerbroker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?
Other books in the series:
“She never expected to find her former husband in an opium den.”
Mogul by Joanna Shupe starts off with an intriguing bang. It’s the kind of opening that immediately piqued my curiosity. It’s meant to wouldn’t you say? It succeeded in that.
Calvin Cabot and Lillian Davies share a past that entails a very brief marriage. It didn’t end well. It actually ends with an annulment because of pressure—coercion or blackmail, depending on how you look at it—from Lily’s father, who doesn’t approve of Calvin and is furious when he learns of their elopement.
“Indeed, I am, Mr. Davies.” He extended a hand in greeting, which Davies made no effort to accept. After a beat, Calvin dropped his arm and said, I know this may come as a surprise, sir—”
“A surprise?” Davies sneered. “Boy, a surprise is coming home to find your cook’s baked your favorite dessert. A surprise is when you run into an acquaintance on the street. A surprise is having a good day on the Exchange. This is no surprise. Finding out this”—he gestured at Calvin—“piece of shit has gone and married your only daughter is a goddamned catastrophe.”
Yes, the dreaded overbearing, interfering parent. They tend to make wonderful foes, especially in historical romances. The good thing about Mogul is that Lily’s father isn’t a present-day adversary—don’t worry there are others—even though the damage he wreaks on their lives lasts just as long.
Fast forward four years and we find Lily in frantic search for her younger brother, Tom. Since the disillusionment of their marriage, Calvin has gone on to become quite a rich, self-made man, and is now the owner and publisher of three newspapers. Lily turns to him for help when she receives a letter from man by the name of Wah Lee, who is threatening to leak the news of their marriage if her brother doesn’t show up by the end of the month. Unfortunately, getting her former husband to agree to help her is a yeoman’s task.
Lily is ruthless in her quest to obtain Calvin’s cooperation. That she doesn’t care much for him is obvious as evidenced by the bullets that come within feet of him. Or maybe it shows how desperate she is to find her brother. Go with the latter because Lily soon discovers that she still has feelings for Calvin—unwanted though they are. She’d loved him. Really loved him. And she’d been destroyed when her father proved that Calvin had only been after her money. Now those feelings are surfacing again. I found that getting inside Lily’s head saved her from coming off too unfeeling. I understood why she treated Calvin as harshly as she did.
By the same token, Calvin isn’t exactly a marshmallow. My goodness, he’s a stubborn one, which is why the two constantly butt heads. But once you get his backstory—in easily digestible flashbacks—you understand where he’s coming from too, and your heart aches for them both. There’s nothing sadder than a relationship that is tested and fails. Lily and Calvin are one of the lucky ones that get another chance.
Mogul is much more fast-paced and suspenseful than the previous books in the series. Between kidnappings and poisonings, and the quest to reunite a man with his wife, there isn’t one dull moment. And as with Ms. Shupe’s other books, the love scenes are hot and particularly well done. Secondary plot and characterization are also done well. Take for instance Monty, the man Lily thought to marry. His figurative demise is something I didn’t see coming. And kudos for the way Ms. Shupe depicts the issues Lily faces as a woman running Davies Mining, the company her father founded, in the late 1800s.
All in all, Mogul is another wonderfully fleshed out historical by Joanna Shupe. And if you appreciate a bit more suspense, Lily and Calvin’s romance should more than satisfy.