Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, Joanna Shupe’s Avon debut introduces an English beauty with a wicked scheme to win the man she loves—and the American scoundrel who ruins her best laid plans…
Lady Honora Parker must get engaged as soon as possible, and only a particular type of man will do. Nora seeks a mate so abhorrent, so completely unacceptable, that her father will reject the match—leaving her free to marry the artist she desires. Who then is the most appalling man in Manhattan? The wealthy, devilishly handsome financier, Julius Hatcher, of course….
Julius is intrigued by Nora’s ruse and decides to play along. But to Nora’s horror, Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiancé, charming the very people she hoped he would offend. It seems Julius has a secret plan all his own—one that will solve a dark mystery from his past, and perhaps turn him into the kind of man Nora could truly love.
Between reviewer Monique and authour Joanna Shupe
I’m thrilled to welcome Joanna Shupe at Buried under Romance today! First of all, I would like to tell you how much I loved the Knickerbocker series and how much I am looking forward to The Four Hundred!
Thank you so much for having me! I’m so happy you enjoyed the Knickerbocker series, and I’m very excited to talk to you about A Daring Arrangement and The Four Hundred Series.
1. Joanna, why did you choose to write about the Gilded Age? Was it an era you were already interested in, or was it motivated by some research you did?
The Gilded Age is a small yet mighty time period in American history. I first discovered the era through Edith Wharton’s books, which I devoured shortly after visiting New York City for the first time in middle school. The class struggles and strict social conventions Wharton described were fascinating, plus I loved all the fantastic clothing.
Also, my relatives emigrated from Italy and came through Ellis Island around the turn of the 20th century, so I feel a deep connection to both New York City and the era. I never fail to get choked up when I spy Lady Liberty standing proud out in the harbor.
2. What makes a good hero, a good heroine? Why do you write your characters the way you do?
My favorite heroes are the ones who are neither all good nor all bad. They’re a little bit naughty and rough, and ready to be taken down a peg or two by the plucky heroine.
In the Gilded Age, women begin to gain more independence for themselves, both financially and socially. So I like to write headstrong heroines who are pursuing their own dreams that have nothing to do with marital goals.
3. Your new series, The Four Hundred, is also set in the Gilded Age. Does it run parallel to the Knickerbocker series? What are the differences and the similarities between the two series?
The two series are not connected, but The Four Hundred books will contain all the same Gilded Age flavor. Instead of American heroines, however, the new series centers around three English ladies who come to New York City and end up with American tycoons. This allowed me to portray the larger-than-life Americans through their very shocked eyes.
4. I was so excited that you chose to continue writing about the Gilded Age that I hadn’t read the blurb, and I wanted to read the book! What can we expect with the first book, A Daring Arrangement? Tell our readers anything you can about it!
A Daring Arrangement opens at a restaurant where the hero is throwing a party entirely on horseback. (This actually happened and the photo is delightful.) This peaks the interest of our heroine, who is desperate to be summoned home to London. She needs the worst, most dissolute rake in New York to pose as her fiancé and the hero has his own reasons for agreeing to help her. The two begin a public lie that turns very real as they spend time together. There may or may not be a shocking scene at the New York Stock Exchange.
Most of my stories have a “people are not always what they seem” theme to them. For A Daring Arrangement, I loved the idea of a woman coming to New York with a very firm picture in her mind about rogues and what they’re supposed to be like. She quickly learns she’s misjudged the hero and has to come to terms with what that means for her fake engagement.
5. I presume you did quite a bit of research for both series, was there anything that surprised you, that you did not expect?
There is so much extravagance and obscene wealth in the Gilded Age that I couldn’t begin to make up anything that came close. Parties on horseback, black tie parties for dogs, gold pencil cases as party favors… The true stories just go on and on, each one better than the last!
One thing that really surprised me was just how important the bicycle was to female independence. The bicycle allowed women to get around without waiting on a streetcar or a hack. They could also ride alone safely, whereas other modes of transportation weren’t as safe for unescorted women. The bicycle was so popular that it influenced clothing as well, with women adopting bicycle skirts, bloomers (baggy knee-length trousers), and “sports” corsets to ride comfortably.
And most of us take the bicycle for granted these days!
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
The Knickerbockers Club series is one of my all-time favourites, and it seems The Four Hundred Club series will be at least as fabulous.
Lady Honora – Nora – Parker was unceremoniously shipped to America by her father who disapproved of the young man Nora intended to marry, Robert, a penniless painter. Nora will live in New York City with her aunt Bea and her American husband; Nora’s father wants her to marry an American, but Nora has every intention of going back to London as quickly as she can. Nora had vaguely heard of financier Julius Hatcher – how can anyone ignore his excesses! – and upon meeting him, a plan hatches in Nora’s devious mind. Julius is a self-made man and proud of it; he is obscenely wealthy is given to the ostentation, like most nouveaux riches. He works hard for his money, he spends how he sees fit, and doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Mostly. He has almost everything he wants except being welcomed in the city’s exclusive clubs. When Nora comes to him with her outrageous proposition, he cannot refuse because pretending to be engaged to the English aristocrat will be his acceptance into society and he will be able to finally settle an old score.
A DARING ARRANGEMENT is spectacular from beginning to end! Once again, Joanna Shupe dazzles with her knowledge of the Gilded Age, but better yet she conveys even more brilliantly fascinating details of the era: the clubs, the theatres, Society, the stock exchange, which was a fantastic touch and riveting in itself. The characters are phenomenal: believable and unique, the dialogues are superlative, down to the vernacular, perfectly tailored to fit every character. Nora. Oh Nora! She is smart, sharp, regal, ever so proper in her improprieties, and as ruthless in reaching her personal goal as Julius is when conducting business affairs.
Julius and Nora are a formidable duo: both have extremely strong personalities and watching them wheel and deal is riveting because their fake engagement is definitely not your run-of-the-mill one. Julius is used to having his way, and still, Nora drives an even harder bargain, and all this while remaining every inch the English lady. Their romance is one of the most entertaining and interesting I have read in a while because both characters are so well-defined and have such powerful presences. Seldom have I seen secondary characters written with such care: Julius’ detestable mother; Nora’s delightful Aunt Bea, Frank, Robert and Poppy, and Julius’ extraordinary valet Weaver. I hope we see more of him in one way or another because he is priceless. There are way more shockers than I ever expected and a nail-biting ending which felt chillingly real. If A DARING ARRANGEMENT is any indication – and I have no doubt about it – The Four Hundred will be epic!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.