The Devil of Downtown (Uptown Girls) – book review

The Devil of Downtown
by Joanna Shupe
Release Date:  June 30, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Book #3 in the Uptown Girls series
Number of Pages:  384
Kindle edition
Source:  MCL
Historical Romance
Ages 17 and up

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He’s built a wall around his heart…
Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery’s mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn’t get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve…
Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she’s shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many “gentlemen” she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine’s past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil…?

This is the book that started my Joanna Shupe journey. The book I learned about through the Fated Mates episode Best of Romance 2020. Of course, it being the 3rd (and final) book in the series meant I had to read the other books first. Both also highly recommended by the Fated Mates hosts. Now that I’ve read all of the books, I will tell you I heartily agree with the them and would also recommend these stories.

One of the things I’ve loved throughout the series that I felt was leaned into even more in this particular story is the how forward thinking the Greene sisters are. One of the main things Justine fights for is men owning up to their responsibilities. She cannot stomach the way men can abandon their families with no repercussions but the women are left with no way to even divorce these men, leaving them and their children with no way out of the cycle of poverty.

“Why are sons not taught to change things? Why must the burdens and problems of this world constantly fall on the shoulders of women?”

Surprisingly for Justine, Jack Mulligan is the only person who seems to fully agree with her view and her aim to hold men accountable for their actions. It even surpises Jack himself that he is so enthralled with the contrary nature of Justine and how badly her determination makes him want to do everything in his power to help her reach her goals. Jack has always gone through great pains to be sure everyone fears him and views him as unfeeling, when in truth he is one of the most compassionate people in the city. There are definitely reasons to fear the man, especially for things that were done in the past. Yet everything Jack has done along the way to where he is now was for the betterment of the city and it’s citizens. He never took power just to be powerful, he never intimidated and fought with others just to be king of the hill. He did what he did to try to make his city a place women were safe and kids had food and a warm place to stay.

The way these two are drawn to one another is fun and intense. The love to hate each other and can’t help the respect they ended up feeling. And let me tell you, one of the best forearm scenes I’ve ever read is in this book. Jack notices Justine’s interest and cannot help playing up the rolling of his sleeves and more. swoon!

More than the story of Justine and Jack, there is also some great stories with these sisters. Justine is the baby of the family and has always been the do-gooder who also happens to follow the rules for the most part. Her scandalous endeavors are things like going downtown unescorted to help feed the poor. Her sisters have both been much more wild and unconventional, yet they sort of gang up on Justine when they realize she has an association with Jack. The are very hypocritical and Justine calls them on that. It’s fascinating to see her learn to face off with them when she’s always been more quiet. She learns to hold her own and they learn to see her as more than the baby of the family.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t read many historicals anymore. I will surely be looking to read more by Joanna Shupe, and soon.

4.5 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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