An Heiress to Remember: The Gilded Age Girls Club
An Heiress to Remember is like no other historical romance I’ve ever read. The prologue shows us Beatrice Goodwin, American heiress, leaving the assistant manager of her father’s department store for a duke who will sweep her off to London. Sixteen years later, she’s back, divorced, and ready to take New York City by storm. First, though, she’ll have to save the store; after her father’s death, it passed to her brother, whose mismanagement has just about run it into the ground. To make matters worse, across the street is a new department store, run by the very man she left all those years ago: Wes Dalton.
I’ve read plenty of historical romances where the hero and heroine start off disliking one another, a trope that is difficult to pull off, as there must be a balance between dislike and attraction. In making an enemies-to-lovers plot, Maya Rodale skips that for something altogether more exciting: sizzling loathing. For a good part of the novel, Bea and Wes aren’t caught up in a question of “will I or won’t I?” It’s more a question of “how can I?” Namely, “how can I win this competition and prove my store is the best?” The tension between them makes their inevitable liaisons all the more satisfying, because we’ve already seen the fire stoked between the two of them. Those liaisons are worth the wait, for the characters and the readers.
The other thing which surprised and delighted me was how unabashedly feminist the book is. Romance has always been female-led and female-centred, but one chapter begins with “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Bea doesn’t just improve her store to make money or to show Wes up; Goodwin’s becomes a haven for women, a place that even today is hard to find. Unfortunately, then as now, a woman working for herself and others faces stiff opposition. Not only are there people who outwardly say what she wants cannot be done, but someone begins to sabotage her store.
Nevertheless, to paraphrase chapter ten, she persists. Reading about Bea was the sort of cathartic thrill I love to find in books. I’ve enjoyed Maya Rodale’s books for years, and An Heiress to Remember is no exception. I was blown away by the freshness of her voice, and especially the freshness of Bea’s voice. The series as a whole is excellent, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
|Page Count||358 pages|
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