Review: A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe

Reviewed by Jen

As much as I love the Regency romances that are the mainstay of my historicals, I am really enjoying the foray into New York’s Gilded Age I’m getting with this series. This is the second installment in Joanna Shupe’s The Four Hundred and–though I enjoyed the first one–if you want to jump in here, this holds up just fine as a standalone.

Lady Eva is a talented architect who learned her craft at the feet of her renowned father. Unfortunately, her dad has developed dementia and can no longer work. To make matters worse, he mismanaged their money and despite his success, she can’t pay the bills. So she decides to use her own skill to fix the situation. Of course, no one will hire a woman as an architect, so she takes a lucrative job in New York, pretending to serve in her father’s stead. After all, she’s been designing in his name for years. What could possibly go wrong?

On her voyage to America, Eva meets a gorgeous and captivating man who she allows herself to indulge in a few indiscretions with. She has no idea that Phillip is actually the hotel developer she is sailing to meet… and deceive. Their lingering attraction only makes the execution of her plan more complicated, but she knows that she’ll lose both the project and the man if he ever learns the truth.

I’m never a fan of a Big Secret trope. By necessity, as a reader, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop once the truth is revealed. And here, the truth takes a long time to come out. But in the meantime, I really enjoyed Eva, specifically her independence and competence. This woman is a master of her craft, and more than that, is smart enough about people to know how to handle them. I liked how she recognized her own self worth, how she went after what she wanted, and stayed true to herself, even when it could mean losing the man she loved.

I liked Phillip well enough. In some ways, obviously, he was a man of his time, with his ideas about women, their place, and what they were capable of. He’s also got some issues from a prior relationship that went bad. But he had some good moments. Most of them were during sexy times, but hey, he came through in the end.

This is a low angst romance, with a unique setting, and a satisfying HEA. I wasn’t super emotionally engaged, but it was a pleasant read.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

A Scandalous Deal
by Joanna Shupe
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Publisher: Avon

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