It isn’t often that I run across a romance featuring a well-to-do railroad politician and a working class female medium. It’s even less often that the book is set in 1880s America. It’s for those reasons and many more that Baron, by Joanna Shupe, is one of my favorite reads this year.
William Sloane has the world at his feet – he’s a successful businessman and is campaigning for the Republic nomination alongside his good friend. He has one problem, however: a medium named Madam Zolikoff. The last thing he wants is to become a laughingstock, and a medium who is no more than a con would ensure exactly that.
Ava Jones wants security for her siblings, and she dons the disguise of Madam Zolikoff to ensure it. In return, Ava does her best to help the people who come to her for readings, offering them logical advice. That is, until William Sloane jeopardizes her career – and her money source – with his insistence on giving up her act. Ava submitted to a rich, charmer once before. She refuses to do so now.
Unfortunately, the rules of attraction aren’t black and white, and perhaps what they really want is exactly what they need.
I devoured this story in one sitting and a big part of that is Ava. She is so relatable – strong when needed, but never too stubborn; forthright in her actions, but never foolhardy. Ava sets a standard for herself and Will and she is unshakeable in that. And, when her passions lead her into Will’s arms, she owns herself and her actions.
I loved this about her!
William Sloane is her refreshing counterpart. He starts out as the son of a business magnate, determined to prove himself – rigid and sure-footed. Enter Ava, and this railroad man meets his match, showing all these different facets that left me enthralled.
And, oh, what lies underneath his exterior! He turns from the uptight politician into the sexy rogue. At one point, Ava mentions Will is rather different from what she expects, and Will rises further – and quite deliciously – to the occasion:
“Is this fun enough for you?” His deep voice whispered over her cheek, bringing back her earlier words. “Do I seem fun now?”
The heat level is off the charts, and I love that I wasn’t expecting it.
The only criticism I have is a loose end that never ties up. I won’t say what it is, but with Ava’s past, I thought it was a big issue. I have a hard time believing that it didn’t come up in conversation with Will.
That, however, was the extent of my criticisms. Joanna Shupe is a new author to me, but I can say with absolute certainty that this librarian will be adding more of Shupe’s books to the shelves – both for the public, and one just for me.
When can I buy it? What comes next?
Baron is the second book in the Knickerbocker Club series by Joanna Shupe. It is available for purchase on Oct 25th. The third book, Mogul, is set to release January 2017.