Murder in the Bowery (Gaslight Mystery, #20)Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Molloy family, including the extended members, are at work on a new case. Gino and Frank are visited by a young man who hires them to find his little brother. He tells them that he and his brother were sent out to Minnesota on the Orphan Train, and he had gotten lucky working with a man who owned a general store. Now that the man had left him the store, he wanted to share his good fortune with his brother whom he hadn’t seen since they were split up years earlier.

Frank and Gino begin work and soon find that there are many more layers than the young man has told them. This story takes place with the backdrop of the newsboys’ strike, an actual event that stopped the sale of two very popular papers owned by two very famous men, Hearst and Pulitzer. The Newsboys play a large part in the story and in the solution of the mystery. This one involves a very ugly story in a very ugly family, as well as a good guy dressed in black.

I see a future story with the man in black; at least I hope so. There is also a new venture for Sarah, a maternity hospital for poor girls who have nowhere to go.

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Magnate (The Knickebocker Club)

Magnate (The Knickerbocker Club, #1)Magnate by Joanna Shupe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second installment of the Knickerbocker Club series involves Emmett Cavanaugh, an up-from-the-streets millionaire who meets his match in a blue-blooded young woman. Elizabeth Sloane is an unusual woman in that she wants to make a difference by working instead of a rich stay-at-home society matron.

This has caused friction with her brother/guardian, but she persists. She approaches Emmett with a proposition for opening her own financial services firm – even though women can’t trade on the Exchange. Emmett is taken by her beauty and her intelligence, but he trusts no one. After being “compromised”, Elizabeth is forced by her brother to marry Emmett. Their marriage is a tumultuous one, marked by high passion and cool dealings outside their chambers.

This one is kind of a roller coaster, but the ride is an exciting one.

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Baron (The Knickerbocker Club)

Baron (The Knickerbocker Club, #2)Baron by Joanna Shupe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one is not as captivating as the first and second Knickerbocker Club entries, but still a good one. Will Sloane is the head of Northeast Railroad, a position handed won by his father. The man never expected anything positive from Will, so Will is driven to prove his father wrong at every turn. He works to excess and is now running for the Lieutenant Governorship of New York, in large part because this was an ambition that his father never realized.

Ava Jones is the oldest of four siblings, living a hand-to-mouth existence on the West Side. She has come up with the best way she knows to make money, by becoming a “medium” and receiving visits and messages from the “other side”. The Gubernatorial candidate has become a client and refuses to make any decisions without consulting with “Madam Zolikoff”. Will is furious and decides to expose her as a fraud. When he meets her, however, he is astounded to find he is attracted to her. He wants her for a mistress (can’t have a woman like that in public), and she refuses.
The story teeters back and forth between bouts of hotel sex between Will and Ava, and the exhausting life she leads trying to earn enough money to get her family out of New York, and the privileged world that Will lives in – trips to Newport for sailing, etc. There is a surprise at the end that helps to show where the couple may end up after their HEA.

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Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club)

Tycoon (The Knickerbocker Club, #0.5)Tycoon by Joanna Shupe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Nice beginning to the Knickerbocker Club series. Taking place during the Gilded Age, the series will follow the powerful men who make up the club. Bank tycoon Theodore Harper is greeted at Grand Central Station by a beautiful young woman pretending to be his wife.

He is surprisingly accepting of the charade even though the young woman is mysterious. Their trust and growing affection for each other takes some blows, but Ted’s great wealth and influence make the difference leading to their HEA. Clara is a force to be reckoned with, and Ted is ready to be with such a woman.

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The Bride Lottery

The Bride LotteryThe Bride Lottery by Kristin Holt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet romance taking place in Colorado territory in 1881. Wealthy and pregnant Evelyn Brandt has no prospects to avoid social ruin. She is sent away by her parents to give birth in San Francisco and give her child up for adoption.

On the train west, she meets a group of young ladies heading for a new town in Colorado. They have agreed to become mail order brides for the men in the new town. However, 15 brides are arriving for the 40 men! Sam Kochler, owner of the mercantile and abstained from the bride search, becomes the manager of the process. When the train reaches the station closest to the town, Evelyn gets off and goes with them. Even though she is not part of the group, the ladies welcome her.

When she first sees Sam, they are both attracted and leery of any involvement. There are a few close calls, first from overzealous grooms-to-be, and then from Sam’s spoiled ex-fiancĂ©e. However, Sam and Evelyn find thir future and their new family. Sweet and clean.

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Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight)

Murder in Morningside Heights (Gaslight Mystery, #19)Murder in Morningside Heights by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one takes place after Frank and Sarah return from their honeymoon and they have worked to start their own investigative agency. A man comes to Frank and asks him to investigate the brutal murder of his daughter at an exclusive women’s college. She had taught at the prestigious school as well as been a graduate of it.

The conversations are enchanting, if horrifying, regarding women’s place and how, of course, no woman who had an offer of marriage would actually work. Even more horrifying is the conversation between Frank and the college president in which Frank is told that women are horrified by sex and only tolerate it for the purposes of procreation (!). Therefore….

Many ideas get an airing here that are surprising and hideous and the crime is solved by a group effort. More interesting is the ending which promises that Sarah will not be a typical wife.

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Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue (Gaslight)

Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue (Gaslight Mystery, #18)Murder on St. Nicholas Avenue by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Good one, introducing what may be the new Malloy Detective Agency. The Deckers, Gino, Maeve and even Frank’s ma, help out here. A Mrs. O’Neill comes to see Mrs. Malloy (an old friend from the old neighborhood) with a tale of woe. Her beautiful, wonderful daughter is in trouble.

She had married a “nice gentleman”, with lots of money, and the gentleman has been killed. Her daughter has been arrested and no one will let her mother see her. Maeve takes her in hand, and before they know it, they are all involved in an ugly story, with costs that no one can see. Gino quits the police force, and it’s just one effect of the ugliness of the case.

Some subtle points here, especially about the effect of beauty, as well as the effect of the press on a police matter.

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