Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

The final novel in Joanna Shupe's critically acclaimed Uptown Girl series about a beauitful do-gooder who must decide if she can team up with one of New York's brashest criminals without losing something irreplaceable: her heart.

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…?

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

The Devil of Downtown is the third installment in the Uptown Girls series, and can easily be read independently as a standalone title with little to no confusion.

One reason I enjoy Joanna Shupe's novels is the location. So many books in the historical romance genre are set in England, primarily London. I appreciate the change of scenery in New York City, as well as the late 1890s era it is placed in. It's a refreshing change that makes the pages fly by.

Justine isn't your usual historical romance heroine. Breaking free of the rules of the time, Justine wanted to be the first female detective (this reminded me of
The Alienist a bit) which intrigued me.

Justine was determined, and strong, although I felt several of the choices/actions/reactions she made didn't fit her personality. In the era and setting, I thought she would have experienced more backlash for acting more like a woman of our current time. As this is fiction, I appreciated that Justine wasn't a wishy-washy damsel in distress. I will point out, her personality and actions seem more fitting for a much older woman, not a girl of twenty of that era and location.

In his early thirties, Jack is a criminal, there is just no other way to state that. A lord of the dark underbelly beneath the city, where crime rules. Obviously, this made Jack a swoon-worthy hero, the total opposite of his crime-stopping counterpart. That is where the delicious angst comes into play.

I will admit, my heart clenches when I read how a man thinks his love interest isn't pretty/beautiful/shapely enough, as it makes an imbalance. We all have insecurities, and not all of us can be models of what society deems attractive for the times. But it hurts to read the hero thinking the heroine homely, but deciding she's beautiful after getting to know her. It sparks of arrogance, like he believes someone who isn't to his beauty standards is unworthy or he deserves someone better. This is usually one-sided, as it's only been one or two times in thousands of books where the heroine thought that of the hero, but an ongoing occurrence for the hero thinking the heroine not worthy of him, until she changes his mind by "not being like the other girls." The crime boss activity didn't make me dislike Jack, but that offhand comment soured the romance for me.

Avoiding the major plot points, as that's for readers to discover. I read the novel in one sitting, finding entertainment and escapism. Quick-paced, with polar opposite characters falling for one another.

One of the things I disliked the most is how much Jack had to change in order to fit into the relationship with Justine. I've read plenty of series where the "Devil" got to keep his position, and the heroine used it their advantage in what they were trying to achieve. It felt as if Jack loses who he is, loses his edge and turns soft, as if a woman "changed" him. Your personality doesn't change, no matter who you're in a relationship with. If it changes, then you're just an actor staring in your own life.

The faster I read, the less likely I was to spot inconsistencies, but they were still there. I won't bog this down by listing them. Simply stating those inconsistencies were the major reason I couldn't rate the novel higher. Characters acting/reacting out of the traits they were given. Timeline issues of how long Justine had been engaged in certain activities, as that would have placed her as a young teen, who wouldn't have been able to have such free reign in New York City, due to the era and the rights of woman at the time, as well as how a young girl could have easily fallen to violence. The way the sisters related to one another from book to book, to where they felt like different characters entirely, with different ways of reacting to one another, which was highly inconsistent across the board.

Highly recommend to fans of the author, of the series, and Historical Romance in general. I'm eager to pick up whatever Joanna Shupe releases next.

Also Available in the Uptown Girls Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our The Rogue of Fifth Avenue post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo

For reviews & more info, check out our The Prince of Broadway post.

Joanna Shupe has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. In 2013, she won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

Connect with Joanna

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads
Joanna Shupe's Gilded Lilies Facebook Group

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Devil of Downtown (Uptown Girls #3) by Joanna Shupe to read and review.

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