Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father's market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. James quickly rises through the ranks, proving himself both hardworking and trustworthy, and catching the eye of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. But when threats against his reputation -- and his life -- begin to emerge, James will have to prove that he truly is the master of his fate.
"In Victorian England, teenager James Falconer has what it takes to get ahead: ambition, intelligence, and looks. He also has a plan: to rise from working at his father's market stall and become a successful merchant and owner of an arcade full of shops. Alexis Malvern is likewise gifted, although she starts out higher on the social ladder; this beautiful and wealthy socialite is already helping manage the family company. Consumed by the twin callings of business and charity, Alexis vows never to marry, until immediately tumbling head over heels in love. In spite of the title, James' story often takes a backseat to Alexis' in this first of a new series for the prolific, best-selling Bradford. Historical-fiction enthusiasts may balk at repetition, infodumps, tenuous marquee-name connections (e.g., Sigmund Freud, Jack the Ripper), and sketchy historicity. But Bradford's legion of fans will flock happily to this romantic saga for its clothing descriptions, frock-flick feel, love at first sight, and extended family networks that promise to figure in future novels in the House of Falconer series.--Bethany Latham Copyright 2018 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"The sprawling first installment in Bradford's House of Falconer series, set in Victorian England, follows James Falconer, son of a struggling merchant, and Alexis Malvern, the daughter of one of London's most successful businessmen, as their lives move toward each other. James is a young man with ambitions of rising above his station to become a "merchant prince." Beyond an attack on James by a pair of "bruisers" with unknown motives, and malicious rumors of his affair with an older widow, James encounters very few setbacks. Alexis is an upper-class woman known for her business acumen and charitable work setting up a safe house for battered women in Whitechapel. She falls in love with wealthy banker Sebastian Trevelyan, despite years of protestation that she would never marry. They have a whirlwind affair and engagement, only to be torn apart by tragedy. James and Alexis's paths are mostly separate, their lives not meeting until late in the novel when James is hired by Alexis's father, but they are united by driven, single-minded natures. Though the strands of the story are slow to converge, this series opener nicely sets the groundwork for future installments. Bradford's many fans will find a vast new cast of characters to connect with. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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