by Joanna Shupe
Release Date: February 23, 2016
Book #0.5 in The Knickerbocker Club series
Number of Pages: 80
Source: Amazon Purchase
Ages 17 and up
CW: murder and attempted murder
In Gilded Age New York City, the bachelors of the Knickerbocker Club spend their days rubbing elbows with Manhattan’s most elite citizens—and their nights with its most intoxicating women…
Sometimes the journey is more pleasurable than the destination…
Standing on the platform at Grand Central Station, Ted Harper is surprised by a fiery kiss from an undeniably gorgeous damsel in distress. He’s certain she’s a swindler who’s only after his money, but he’s never met a woman so passionate and sure of herself. Disarmed, he invites her to spend the journey to St. Louis in his private car—perhaps against his better judgment.
Clara Dawson has long known how to take care of herself, but the savvy shop girl is at a loss when she witnesses—and becomes entangled in—a terrible crime. Desperation propels her into a stranger’s arms at the train station, but she hadn’t expected Ted to offer her the protection she so badly needs—nor did she expect their chemistry to develop more steam than the engine of the train. He’s everything she never thought she could have, and she’s everything he didn’t know he wanted. But as her secrets begin to unfurl, their fledgling romance could be in danger of derailing before they arrive at the next station.
This short story is the perfect introduction the The Knickerbocker Club; who they are, their purpose, their members. We don’t really get to know the members other than Ted, but the story touches on this group of men Ted is friends with who help each other network and grow their businesses.
Talk about a meet-cute. Clara and Ted meet in an unexpected and adorable way…good thing Ted is a great guy and his first instinct is to help/protect a woman he believes to be in trouble. And while Clara does need his help in that moment, she is a very independent and strong-willed person. She may need him for a brief time, but she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself long term.
These two have a sweet connection and I enjoyed the time they spent together just getting to know each other, while also holding so much back about their true selves. Ted can jump to conclusions, not only with Clara but with others in life in general. Clara helps him expand his vision of the world and really realize the worth of those around him, not just white men.
I always enjoy the way Joanna Shupe gives the woman characters in her stories very strong views on what they can do (pretty much anything), a rigid backbone, and a soft center. The men often latch onto that soft center only to realize these women can and do think and speak for themselves, as well as speak up for those around them that cannot do it for themselves.
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