by Joanna Shupe
Release Date: October 25, 2016
Book #2 in The Knickerbocker Club series
Number of Pages: 311
Source: Warren Public Library
Ages 17 and up
CW: miscarriage, assault
New York City’s Gilded Age shines as bright as the power-wielding men of the Knickerbocker Club. And one pragmatic industrialist is about to learn that a man may make his own destiny, but love is a matter of fortune . . .
Born into one of New York’s most respected families, William Sloane is a railroad baron who has all the right friends in all the right places. But no matter how much success he achieves, he always wants more. Having secured his place atop the city’s highest echelons of society, he’s now setting his sights on a political run. Nothing can distract him from his next pursuit—except, perhaps, the enchanting con artist he never saw coming . . .
Ava Jones has eked out a living the only way she knows how. As “Madame Zolikoff,” she hoodwinks gullible audiences into believing she can communicate with the spirit world. But her carefully crafted persona is nearly destroyed when Will Sloane walks into her life—and lays bare her latest scheme. The charlatan is certain she can seduce the handsome millionaire into keeping her secret and using her skills for his campaign—unless he’s the one who’s already put a spell on her . . .
Not going to lie, I had my doubts about Will while reading Magnate. While he is a very dedicated brother, he is also very narrow-minded, and never so much as when dealing with those that aren’t considered “high class”. What better foil for Will than Ava aka Madame Zolikoff the famed mystic. Not only is her upbringing not up to his high standards, but he believes her to be swindling the elite in their community.
I’m not going to go so far as to say Ava totally changed Will…he is who he is. Yet he was able to tap into the empathy he had buried long ago when he felt he had to be tougher and colder in order to deal with his heavy-handed father. Ava helped Will to see that things are often not black and white, and he helped her to accept that she could lean on others from time to time.
One of my favorite things in this story was family. Ava’s family and Will’s sister added a depth to the story and elements that forced the couple to open their eyes to some truths about themselves they had been hiding from. Ava’s siblings, especially the younger two, are charming and sweet. The older of the three, really almost a man now, is tough but has such a good head on his shoulders. Not that it seems that way at first, but trust me that he’ll find his way.
There came a time in this story that I thought Will would never find his own truth. He was so stuck in “proving” himself and one upping his father, he couldn’t see what he truly wanted and needed. Ava was stubborn, don’t get me wrong. But she was also able to expand her horizons easier than Will. Of course, they both eventually find their way.
It surprised me that I ended up liking this story more than the first two. I really have enjoyed them all, but the strength and grit of Ava really edged this one over the others.