I fell in love with The Rogue of Fifth Avenue earlier this year and was beyond thrilled to receive an advanced copy of The Devil of Downtown. And, I loved The Devil of Downtown so much that I (a) ignored my responsibilities for like 45 minutes to just read and while sitting in a very long Starbucks line, snuck in several pages. I am so sad that this series has come to a close, but so excited to talk about it today. So, thank you Avon and Netgalley for early access to The Devil of Downtown, out tomorrow! Now let’s talk about why you should read this series if you haven’t yet.
There’s honestly just something about the way this series uses criminal corruption and vice as a backdrop for the world we’re introduced to. In last week’s Fated Mates podcast, Joanna Shupe talked about how Gilded Age New York was not altogether different than Regency England and if you want more evidence of such, Erin and Melody from Heaving Bosoms declared The Prince of Broadway to be set in England Times New York. Personally, I love the little bits of history I learned from these books, but truly what I loved the most were the characters.
Mamie, Florence, and Justine are some of the best heroines in literature. Bandherbooks coined the phrase, “Fuck yeah, Florence,” because of how utterly competent and audacious and captivating Florence is, but honestly, I felt captivated by each of the three sisters. They’re all so different, but also similar in key ways. Each really wants agency over their lives and is willing to fight for it in their own way. Mamie originally is willing to make compromises in the interest of her sisters, but rebels in other ways. They’re also all three deeply committed to making the world a better place and I appreciated the way their charitable acts are presented throughout the novels.
And to contrast the three of them and their fancy upbringing are their heroes, each of whom were born into a world much less privileged than the Greene sisters. Frank has cut off his ties to his family, to the point of changing his name and pretending they don’t exist to him any longer. Clayton runs his own casino (several of them, I think) and Jack Mulligan is essentially the head criminal in charge. The three men are deeply jaded by life and watching them fall in love with a headstrong Greene sister each is an utter delight.
Additionally, these books all have excellent sexy times in them, often taking place in unconventional places. Like, bowling should not be sexy. But, you know, in The Devil of Downtown, it kind of really was! And don’t get me started on The Prince of Broadway (but do listen to the Heaving Bosoms episode about it because I was dying laughing at Melody and Erin over the scene in the closet type room).
Basically, all I’m saying is that if you’ve not read these books yet, you absolutely should give them a chance. They are some of the best historical romances I’ve read in a long time. And, in fact, The Rogue of Fifth Avenue was one of my favorite books of the first quarter of 2020. The Devil of Downtown has a real good shot of making my second quarter list! Here is the link to my goodreads review of just the final book in the series if you would like to see that instead.
On theme with this review, let’s talk about expungements and second chances after criminal behavior. Essentially, an expungement is a way for someone with a criminal charge or conviction to be able to have it removed from their criminal record so that when a background check is run, the charge doesn’t show up. The reason I want to talk about them is to encourage you to support your local Legal Aids, which often help with this process. As we see throughout this series, sometimes people need second (or third) chances. Have you read the series yet? Let me know!