The Devil of Downtown is hot little slice of Gilded Age New York City. Watching the last Greene sister fall in lust, admiration and love while fighting the cruelties of the world provided me with yet another wonderful treat.
Justine Greene (sister Florence and Mamie, heroines of books one and two), works for the Lower East Side Aide Agency, an organization whose mission is to promote the welfare of the city’s poor. She has entered the den of iniquity that is Jack Mulligan’s private office to make a request of him. She wants him to help her speak to Robert Gorcey, an employee in Mulligan’s casino who has abandoned his family and refuses to pay for the living expenses of his family of five, driving two of the children to the workhouse.
Mulligan – who meets Justine with another man’s blood on his knuckles – refuses to speak to Gorcey and interfere with a private family matter. She threatens to call the cops, he threatens to hold her hostage – both are impressed with the temerity of the other, but aren’t about to give an inch. Jack grew up an orphan on the streets of New York and crawled his way to the top of the food chain – which is why he’s impressed by the surprising mettle in society girl Justine’s gaze.
Soon, Justine finds herself in dangerous circumstances thanks to her refusal to back down from the abusive husbands and partners whom she deals with on a daily basis. She turns to Mulligan for support, and intrigue kindles into lust. But will love follow.
You know what you’re in for with Shupe’s strong heroines and bad-boy heroes, who have hearts of gold and who find respect, friendship, lust and love together. The seedy underworld and glittering ballrooms are portrayed with equal detail, and her hero and heroine are equally memorable. There will be one semi-public sex scene during the zesty affair (this time the author goes more trope-traditional with a carriage encounter).
Mulligan has a lot of emotional scars, and Shupe isn’t afraid to make him dark and complex – and Justine, too, is no saint, nor is she a paper avenger. Together they make the reader bound happily beside them on the rough streets of New York, watching everything and enjoying the intrigue and the passion.
The romance combines heart and respect and manages to make them both compelling due to their mutual acceptance of one another. There’s a beautiful moment during a love scene where Mulligan shows Justine the physical scars left over from years of physical, brutal battles, and her reaction makes the book – and their relationship.
The plot is speedy and action-packed, and it does a good job of keeping the reader on their toes. Yet overall this isn’t my favorite among the Uptown Girls books (that would be book two, The Prince of Broadway). But The Devil of Downtown is still a good read, and will likely satisfy Shupe’s many fans.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore
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