Duchess of Fifth Avenue
Author: Ruth Ryan Langan
ISBN: 0-425-20889-3 (Berkley Sensation)
Finished: 4 August 2007
Who: Lana Dunleavy and Jesse Jordan
From the back: Plucky young Lana Dunleavy left Ireland with her best friend Siobhan in search of a better life — but New York’s harsh streets aren’t quite what they expected. Employed as a maid for a wealthy family, Lana hopes to earn enough money for Siohban and her son, Colin, away from Siohban’s wretched husband. Then tragedy suddenly strikes, and the only chance for Lana to save her precious Colin is to transform herself — from a maid to a lady. . .
Comments: I bought this book, based on the positive review it was giving at All About Romance. I found it difficult to write this review of the book because I really didn’t want to give too much away. I liked the book and would recommend it to anyone who likes stories set in the Gilded Age.
Lana is desperate to get custody of Colin O’Malley. She enlists the aid of a gambler and con artist she knows only by the name Stone. She wants him to teach her how to pass herself off has a high-born lady.
Stone — or Jesse Jordan, as he tells Lana — is a bit hesitant about agreeing. However, seeing her so distraught and determined, he agrees. So begins the transformation.
Lana is both resilient and vulnerable. She’ll suffer any hardship in her quest for Colin. Yet she sometimes sabotages her own plans with her fears and naivete. When Jesse points out the lawyer who will be assisting them in their efforts, Lana is sure that the man’s shabby appearance is an indication that he isn’t a very good lawyer, and that Jesse isn’t taking her mission seriously despite everything he’s said and done to this point. What Lana doesn’t take into consideration — doesn’t stop to think about — is the fact that the lawyer is also dining in one of the finest, most elegant restaurants in New York City. The man obviously has clout. She hires someone else, without Jesse’s knowledge, and the case suffers a setback.
Jesse is a bit of an enigma, at first. Once the little clues start popping up, it’s really easy to guess his secret. Jesse’s been attracted to Lana since he first saw her at the Blue Goose tavern and he tries to distant himself from her. But it’s much too late, he’s in love with her. He’s also a very generous man. Besides helping Lana for no other reason than it makes her happy, the people Jesse has helping him have all been turned out of their previous jobs and came to America for employment: a Russian seamstress, a French ballerina, a Spanish housekeeper and her niece, and an English cook.
All in all, it was a pleasant read.