🎳 Q: bowling is an important activity in this romance. How do you feel about bowling? Are you good? Awful?
🥵🥵🥵. Okay, sorry, had to get that string of emoji out of the way first. How do I always forget how perfectly dirty Joanna Shupe’s books are?! It’s inexcusable!
The Devil of Downtown is Shupe’s latest foray into the Gilded Age and it’s basically a treasure trove of some of my favorite things.
⭐️ A romance between a criminal kingpin and a “do-gooder.”
⭐️ A hero who is turned on by the “stern” tones of the heroine. In this case, said criminal kingpin is absolutely infatuated with do-gooder’s “brass ones” because she refuses to be cowed by him, the man they all fear.
⭐️ Steam, steam, steam!
⭐️ An aggressive, ruthless hero who is squishy soft on the inside BUT ONLY for the heroine and a philanthropic heroine who is hard as steel—as the hero notes on several occasions. She’s ambitious (for the sake of others) and not willing to ultimately compromise herself, even for him. The Devil of Downtown feels luxuriously enjoyable and it’s not without some commentary on deserting husbands and the police, too. I absolutely love the dynamic between the hero Jack and heroine Justine—I imagine him continually internally gaping at how unimpressed she is by his efforts to intimidate.
I have two quibbles, though. One is part of the ending, which I don’t want to get into because of spoilers. And the second, which makes me sound like a bad person, is that for a little while Justine only enjoys helping people (no hobbies, Justine?), and that can come across as a little one dimensional. But then she likes helping people, bowling, *and* being intimate with the most powerful criminal leader in Manhattan so 👍🏻, I’ll allow it 🤣. .
This is a fantastic historical and I loved every second of it.
The Devil of Downtownis out on 06/30. Thanks to Avon Publishing and Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.