The Lady Gets Lucky
Joanna Shupe takes us back to the Gilded Age with The Lady Gets Lucky, part of the Fifth Avenue Rebels series. Alice Lusk persuades Kit Ward to teach her to flirt and seduce so that she can land a husband who is interested in her, not just her dowry. In exchange, Kit wants the recipes Alice has learned from a megastar chef so he can license them for his new supper club. As a genre reader will anticipate, the lessons work best of all on Kit himself. Flawed, formulaic characters are the biggest difficulty here.
Nothing we are told about Alice lines up with what we are shown. She is well-behaved and incredibly shy, which we know because she tells Kit so after she sneaks into his room to ask him to tutor her in seduction. If you can’t see the inherent issues with that sentence, this may be the book for you. We also find out that she knows the recipes because she loves cooking and has, for months, been sneaking down to the hotel kitchen to be tutored by the chef (gosh, what a meek young lady!).
Kit is a mishmash of generic hero qualities. He’s extremely rich and popular and God’s gift to the ladies, but he has to open a supper club to prove he’s a success. Even if he falls in love with Alice, he could never marry her, because he’s not the kind of guy who gets married. (This is literally the circular logic used here). Besides, imagine how Alice would suffer if she married a rich man of an established family, but one whose dad nobody likes! Also, he MUST have the hotel chef’s recipes, but only Alice can cook them, so she agrees to help him for opening night. Kit’s plans for future evenings are… nonexistent. This seems a dubious business decision.
I think this must be the second book in the Fifth Avenue Rebels series, (it is – book one is The Heiress Hunt – Ed.) because the first third of the book takes place at a house party where, in the background of Alice and Kit’s hook-ups, another couple of characters named Harrison and Maddie get together. They don’t get enough page count to be a secondary couple, and they get too much page count considering we don’t know or care about them. Watching randos relive the courtship from their own book in the background of this one is as fun as reading about their blissful HEAs, which is to say, not at all.
All right then, why aren’t we in D territory? Well, the prose is good. Shupe is a strong writer of sex scenes. The setting details of a Newport house party, a posh Fifth Avenue hotel, and a Gilded Age supper club are interesting and clearly historically grounded without feeling like wedged-in textbook sequences. One supporting character, an English Duke in search of an heiress bride (with repeatedly poor luck) is deeply likeable. I hope his inevitable sequel will be better than this.
But while those elements might salvage the book from a D grade, they aren’t enough to take it higher than a C. Ultimately, the lady might have gotten lucky, but this reader certainly did not.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer
Visit our Amazon Storefront
I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.