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ARC: What the Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age by Renee Rosen

What the Lady Wants
Renee Rosen
NAL Trade November 4th 2014
Pages 416
ISBN13: 9780451466716
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads  •  Amazon  •  Indiebound  •  Powell’s Books

Recommendation: 4/5

From Goodreads:
In late-nineteenth-century Chicago, visionary retail tycoon Marshall Field made his fortune wooing women customers with his famous motto: “Give the lady what she wants.” His legendary charm also won the heart of socialite Delia Spencer and led to an infamous love affair. 

The night of the Great Fire, as seventeen-year-old Delia watches the flames rise and consume what was the pioneer town of Chicago, she can’t imagine how much her life, her city, and her whole world are about to change. Nor can she guess that the agent of that change will not simply be the fire, but more so the man she meets that night.…

Leading the way in rebuilding after the fire, Marshall Field reopens his well-known dry goods store and transforms it into something the world has never seen before: a glamorous palace of a department store. He and his powerhouse coterie—including Potter Palmer and George Pullman—usher in the age of robber barons, the American royalty of their generation.

But behind the opulence, their private lives are riddled with scandal and heartbreak. Delia and Marshall first turn to each other out of loneliness, but as their love deepens, they will stand together despite disgrace and ostracism, through an age of devastation and opportunity, when an adolescent Chicago is transformed into the gleaming White City of the Chicago’s World’s Fair of 1893.

My Thoughts
Renee Rosen won my attention with Dollface, and scores again with What the Lady Wants. An extremely competent writer providing interesting historical fiction mixed with intriguing characters. Rosen is an author to watch, she’s on my list of favorites.

Rosen’s writing style is polished and vibrant. Descriptive enough without being overbearing. Every word serves a purpose, no added nonsense simply to fill a page. Her prose is engaging causing the reader to drink in every chapter at full speed. She creates a page turner with her exact and smart prose.

The Great Chicago Fire 1871

     The Great Chicago Fire 1871

Rosen possesses a knack for nailing the era, people, social proprieties. You feel the essence of Chicago, its resilience and determination. The historical facts are knitted perfectly with the narrative. The novel commences with The Great Chicago Fire and the narrative continues to blaze. The pace is set as you try to outrun the smoke and flames gripping the city as it destroys and kills. The Haymaker Affair wasn’t dwelled on, rather introduced to once again show the resilience and courage of Chicago. A significant event in history enhancing the characters, adding another intricate layer to both plot and protagonists. No doubt the ambiance of 1800’s Chicago is experienced from the comfort of your own home. A true time travel experience.

Haymaker Square Riot

Haymaker Square Riot

A romance filled with trials and tribulations. The characters and era make the romance aspect rather tragic and plausible. The plot is actually exciting and your curiosity is heighten not knowing exactly how all will play out. I love a romance full of roadblocks and Rosen provides plenty adding a sophisticated angle in a difficult era. Many scenarios are highlighted in a smooth manner creating for a unique marriage.

“Delia understood the power of an Inconvenient, unconventional love that couldn’t be denied.”

Characterization is where Rosen shines. She gives us four unique and diverse characters. The characters evoke the readers emotions in some form and of course Delia is your quintessential smart, strong independent woman, a trail blazing feminist. Despite her circumstances and choices she is the heroine of the story. She has a moral compass along with Marshall Field thus intensifying the romance portion. Nannie is villainous enough to excuse Marshall’s affront causing you to feel a great deal of sympathy towards their blustery union. Nannie and Arthur are tormented, truly the catalysts of joining Delia and Marshall subtracting their immediate attraction and connection.

“We’re married to two ver complicated people, aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but for me it’s a very lonely existence.”

Rosen creates an engaging story with thrilling characters. She blends numerous themes allowing the reader to select one or more most fitting. Her novels are enthralling and keep the reader on their toes. Her female protagonists never disappoint. Her narratives are unique and full of creativity and she knows Chicago and showcases its history and mystique. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, it worked for me on all points. I was impressed with Dollface and pegged Rosen for an author taking it up a notch with each of her projects and she does. I anxiously await her next novel, this endeavor was exceptional. A must add to your reading list, especially fans of historical fiction and romance, and the 19th century era, a novel you will devour lickety-split.

Marshall Field

     Marshall Field

photo 3


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1 Comment

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