In the late nineteenth century, Newport, Rhode Island-with its giant marble mansions, lavish dinner parties, and vicious social climbing- is a summer playground of the very rich. Into this rarefied world comes infamous railroad mogul and robber baron Sam Driver. He wants his beautiful daughter to have the best Newport has to offer-even if that means breaking all the rules...
True love confronts Gilded Age class hierarchy in Jakes's latest engaging historical potboiler. Railroad tycoon Sam Driver sets out to conquer the summer resort of Newport, R.I., at the 1890s pinnacle of its glamour and snootiness in order to avenge its snubbing of his dead wife and find a prestigious match for his daughter, Jenny. It's a world ruled by New York socialites, where the slightest blemish of background or breach of protocol triggers ostracism. Sam struggles to conform while fending off the efforts of an old rival to exclude him, but Jenny throws a monkey wrench into things by falling in love with a handsome, lower-class Irishman. Jakes serves up a melodrama and satire of the tyranny of social convention with a girl-power ending. It doesn't always ring true, especially when Sam pressures Jenny to marry the obviously villainous Count Orlov, and action set pieces like a tennis match and a carriage race are less than gripping. But Jakes is a fluent storyteller, and his meticulous reconstruction of fin-de-si cle excess will have fans savoring the lavish details of jewelry, fashion, food and follies.