Set in New York City’s Gilded Age, this is the story of forbidden love between uptown girl and downtown boy.
Clayton Madden owns and operates one of the most successful gambling houses in Old New York – the Bronze House. He is a tough guy, having worked his way up from the city streets to create the empire he owns. There is only one other casino owner in town and between them they control the city – from the corrupt government down to the shoe-shine boys. But for Clay Madden it is about more than amassing a fortune and becoming powerful. It is about revenge against the man who sold his family’s home out from under them, leaving them on the streets. That man is Duncan Greene, himself a man of power and wealth.
Florence Greene is the middle daughter of Duncan Greene. She is a risk taker; a gambler; a woman who prefers a bit of danger in her life. Marriage to a bland and boring husband is not for her; nor can she imagine a life where her children and her charities are all that occupy her time. Florence wishes to open a casino for women; a place where well-bred ladies can go to spend their pocket money and enjoy a discreet sherry or two. After all, most ladies she knows already do this under the guise of visiting friends. Why shouldn’t she, Florence, make a living off of their losses?
Florence realizes that at the age of twenty-one she is being pushed to find a suitable husband. This means that she must actively pursue her dream of being a casino owner/operator. To that end, she brazenly confronts the elusive Clayton Madden in his offices and hires him to teach her the business. He agrees, but he is honest with her when he states that he will agree to her terms but won’t agree to keep his attraction to her under control.
Clayton sees Florence as another way to exact revenge on her father even as he mentors her in the casino business. Florence is an adept student and slowly the passion between them ignites. He knows that she will hate him when she learns of his revenge plans but he is determined to enjoy Florence for whatever time he has. When the plan is set in motion, will Clayton realize what he has in Florence? Will he put his entire life’s work on the line to keep her love?
I liked this story very much. Firstly, I enjoy stories set in the era of the Gilded Age. Florence is a strong character and I like her a lot. In my mind, I could picture the role of Clayton Madden being played by Clark Gable and that made the story come alive for me. Also, Clayton’s redemption was well written. His journey from a revenge-driven man to a man in love was believable. Each main character has their own supporting characters who are present but not overwhelming. I could have done without the sexually explicit scenes as, to me, they were a bit overplayed. The same outcome could have been accomplished with less description.
Rating: 4 stars