The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

4.5 / 5  stars
Read in June 2020
Book #3 in the Uptown Girls series

Loved it! What an outstanding finale to an amazing series. Each book is better than the last, and now that’s it’s over I wish there was a fourth Greene sister to keep the story going!

First, both Justine and Jack are such lovable, refreshing characters in the world of historical romance. Justine is a do-gooder with no regard for what others thinks of her. She isn’t afraid to defend herself (both physically and verbally), and ultimately she always puts others before herself. As the youngest daughter, she feels misunderstood by her family because they equate her kindness and gentle heart with weakness and naïveté. And although she believes herself less beautiful than her sisters, this isn’t something she dwells on. She wears old dresses and avoids high-society events to track down husbands who abandon their families, fight for fair working conditions in factories, and chase her dream of becoming the first female police detective in New York City. She is brave, determined, and the perfect match for Jack.

Jack, on the other hand, while having a tragic past and being a hardened criminal kingpin, isn’t overly or unnecessarily broody, rude, gruff, or (perhaps most importantly) protective and territorial over Justine. He speaks multiple languages, dresses to the nines, and enjoys bowling in his free time. He isn’t fixated on the idea that taking Justine’s virginity will “ruin” her; he recognizes this is her choice and understands the sex life of a woman does not define her. Although their relationship starts out on bargaining terms, he sees Justine as an equal partner and doesn’t try to shield her from the darkness in the underbelly of New York City and even in his own life. He has a soft, kind side that really makes them a dynamic pair.

My biggest disappointment in this book was the Greene sisters’ relationships. The relationships among Mamie, Florence, and Justine have intrigued me since book #1. In TDoD, the sisters share some heartwarming scenes later in the book, but otherwise their relationships, namely Mamie/Florence vs. Justine, are shown to be bumpy and frustrating. While this strengthened Justine’s image as the babied youngest daughter in the family, I would’ve liked to have seen the sisters’ relationships developed across all three books so, by the time the finale rolled around, they could team up to do something spectacular. In this book, Mamie and Florence seem to forget the struggles they faced in their own stories and hypocritically chastise Justine, a disappointment coming from two characters who should understand what it’s like to chase a dream deemed improper by their parents and the rest of upper-class society.

Joanna Shupe’s writing, as always, is spectacular. Her worldbuildling will whisk you off to New York City’s Gilded Age, from the run-down slums to the luxurious mansions. The romance scenes will have you cheering, the sex scenes are oh-so-steamy, there are instances of high-stakes action and intrigue, all topped off with witty banter and a sprinkle of laugh-out-loud humor. I’m hoping to pick up another one of her series very soon!

All in all, I truly loved this book and this series. Writing this review has made me want to read it all over again, so if you have any historical romance series suggestions I would love to hear them!

Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers/ Avon Books via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Joanna Shupe’s Uptown Girls series:

Book 1: The Rogue of Fifth Avenue | Book 2: The Prince of Broadway

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