Cover Image: The Devil of Downtown

The Devil of Downtown

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Member Reviews

This is the 3rd book in The Uptown Girls trilogy about three Upper Manhattan socialites who fall in love with men who skirt the law but give up all criminal behavior for their women. It can be read as a standalone. Jack Mulligan, raised in a brothel, fought his way up the ranks of Lower East Side gangs, eventually consolidating power and bringing a tenuous peace. He used muscle, threats and blackmail to build his empire, but he also has a kind heart, helping the people of his neighborhood to improve their lives. Along the way, he also became booksmart, learned several languages, and developed a cultured persona. When he meets Justine Greene, who comes to him to track down a deadbeat husband in his employ, he’s impressed with her spirit, independence and goodness. As they continue to work together, whether it be raising funds for her brother-in-law’s Legal Aid Society, improving working conditions in factories, or serving food in a soup kitchen, they begin to fall in love. Will they be able to build a life together away from the corruption and criminality that has defined his life up to this point or will Jack force her to walk away? 

Joanna Shupe’s Gilded Age romances are always riveting and paint a clear picture of the vast divide between the haves and have-nots in major cities like NY and Chicago, deftly describing the misery faced by the lower classes and the excesses of the industrial barons around the turn of the 20th century. There are definitely parallels that can be drawn between those times and American oligarchic society and the corruption in politics and law enforcement today, sadly reminding readers that the imbalance is still very real. Despite this, her stories are hopeful and heartwarming. Highly recommended.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Avon through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
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I loved this finish to the trilogy. Justine finally gets her due as the do-gooding youngest sister. In her quest to better lives, she delves into the seedy side of town for help in the form of Jack Mulligan. He has ways of making her life much, much easier, which is as seductive as the man himself. This was an excellent blend of progressive hope, reforming a rake, and simmering tension.
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I love reading historical romances where one protagonist is from the streets and the other is from high society so I was very much looking forward to this and it didn’t disappoint! Jack is complex and Justine is compelling and I enjoyed their story.
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Another excellent installment in Joanna Shupe's Gilded Age oevure, this one the conclusion of the Uptown Girls series, about three rebellious high-society sisters and their downtown men.  Shupe's talent for meticulous attention to historical detail combined with smoking-hot love scenes is in full force in this romance between a do-gooder and a bad boy with a heart of gold.
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If I had to pick a favorite series I read this year, Uptown Girls would be it.  I was sad to say goodbye to the Greene sisters but excited to finally get to Justine's book.  Justine appeared as the quiet sister throughout the other two books so getting to know her and her passions was really fun and exciting.  Justine definitely had a heart of gold and was not as meek as she seemed.  Justine also was not afraid to ask for what she needed, even if she had to go to some not so great places along the way.

Jack, oh Jack.  You rogue, you devil.  Gotta love a dirty talking, bowling loving man with a tragic past.  Seriously, who knew bowling could be sexy?

We also get to catch up with the other two sisters (FLORENCE!!) and I think the trilogy as a whole, had a satisfying ending.   I definitely am glad I found this author and cannot wait for more.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy.
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The Devil of Downtown (Uptown Girls #3). By Joanna Shupe. 2020. Avon (ARC eBook).

The Devil of Downtown is the final novel in Joanna Shupe’s exciting and passionate Uptown Girls series. 

Determined to bring a deadbeat husband to account, Justine Greene finds herself operating on the turf of one of New York’s notorious kingpins, Jack Mulligan. Determined to get her man, she enters an agreement with Jack. A favor for a favor. Soon one favor turns into another and Jack and Justine’s acquaintance turns into a forbidden affair. Jake loves the fiery passion Justine has for her job; he loves it even more when her fiery eyes are on him. And Justine is snared by the kind and generous heart Jack has; all but invisible for most in society, she can see it and many in the Bowery receive much needed support from the criminal mastermind. But, just like Jack once tamed the unruly streets now under his control, there is another shift in power on the horizon as an ambitious gangster encroaches on Jack’s empire and threatens all he desires to protect. 

I really love this series. From pool halls to sweatshop factories, Shupe brings the rough boroughs of Gilded Age New York to life. And the opposites-attract pairings are as charming as they are steamy. Having such a powerful figure as Jack fall so hard for Justine was such a fitting happily ever after for the Greene sisters.
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Loved this Gilded Age romance. Thanks NetGalley! Shupe is one of my favorite authors, and this one was swoony, spunky, and everything I expected. Historical detail on POINT.
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Hands down my favorite of the series! I thought Justine and Jack were such a good match. I enjoyed how much they loved one another for who they were and had no interest in changing the other. Very satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series.
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I enjoyed The Devil of Downtown. It was quite sexy at times, and I liked both Jack and Justine, as individual characters and as a budding couple. The writing was good. The story was fine.

So why was this only an "okay"/average 3 star read for me? I honestly think it's just my current headspace in 2020. Even favorite rereads and authors are not grabbing me like the have in the past. Fuck you, 2020. But I digress.

This was a perfectly good read. And I know many of my fellow readers who have read it and loved it. For me, it just hit at the wrong time and my own personal baggage and mood took the book down a bit. Still a good book but not the OMG LOVE! kind of read that some others found it to be. And that's okay.
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Exciting page-turner.  Always a good sign when you have to stay up at night to finish reading it.  Loved it.  As a fan of romance novels, specifically the historical romance genre, this is a wonderful addition to my bookshelf!!
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I enjoyed the unique historical setting for this one. Melt-your-Kindle hot and a great romantic story. Loved this one!

Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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A good conclusion to the trilogy and as always a steamy, yet believable love story. Love the relationships and strong female characters.
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Joanna Shupe is an amazing writer and I loved the first two books in the series. Jack and Justine are just amazing and I wanted them to smash together at the first meeting and was frustrated when they didn't. Only Joanna can make bowling sexy.
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Oh my!  It’s been way too long since I’ve read Joanna and I forgot how much delight I take in her books.  I did not read the first two books in this series, which did not detract from this story although I do want to go back and read them. 

Justine, the youngest sister of a rather powerful New York family, is the star of our show and I adores her. She’s selfless, tough, and spends all of her time taking care of the less fortunate.  Unfortunately, she ends up needing help from the devil himself, Jack Mulligan. A self made man, Jack may have a good heart but he’s definitely on the wrong side of the law.  

These two have amazing chemistry that explodes on the page during a few sexy scenes. I think my favorite parts are the internal struggles between right and wrong with both characters. I also enjoyed the side characters a lot, especially Justine’s sisters.  The story mixes serious moment swell with lighter scenes and adds an element of mystery and danger as well. This is just a very well rounded book and should please any fan of historical romance. Highly recommended!
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I have been eagerly anticipating Mulligan's story and this did not disappoint. I didn't really know what to expect from Justine going in, but she was an absolute delight. I additionally loved Rye and Cooper. I loved the moral gray area and that both Jack and Justine had to adjust their ideas of self to make their relationship work. I loved the. heat of the romance scenes, challenging perceptions that would often paint Justine as a prude. I loved Jack's taunting. I loved the cases of hunting down husband's who abandoned their wives. This entire series was fantastic and this may be my favorite yet. I can't wait to see what Shupe does next.
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This book was a wonderful end to a delightful series. Justine and Jack were both well-rounded characters, with flaws as well as heroic elements. Their romance was hot—Joanna Shupe knows how to write a romance that builds, with great sex scenes as the payoff (no instalust). I will miss this series.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an eARC via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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This is the first book I have read of Joanne. I am not a person that likes books set in the US but I liked this story a lot. A story with an extremely fiery and strong female and the worse type of hero. To see two people from completely different worlds meet in the middle was a pleasure. I would recommend this book. I have not read the other books in this series but after reading this story I will need to read the other books.   I received an advanced reader copy from the Netgalley/publisher. All opinions are my own.
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I love Joanna Shupe. Her writing style is unique, her characters always have depth and personality, her plots always have a realistic feel even though they take place over 100 years ago, and her fans are never left disappointed.

Jack and Justine are both written to perfection. Both are so vibrant and honest, they pull you in and have you rooting for them to have their happily ever after.

I love how she describes the locations, whether they are multi-million dollar homes or slums where two or three families live in a one it two room apartment. You feel as if you have just stepped into whatever location hey characters are and it's as if you are seeing it through their eyes.

I most absolutely 💯 recommend this book == AMAZING!

I received an ARC of this book via NetGally and am happily giving my honest opinion.
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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!

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.
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Erica – ☆☆☆☆
The Devil of Downtown is the third installment in the Uptown Girls series, and can easily be read independently as a standalone title with little to no confusion.

One reason I enjoy Joanna Shupe's novels is the location. So many books in the historical romance genre are set in England, primarily London. I appreciate the change of scenery in New York City, as well as the late 1890s era it is placed in. It's a refreshing change that makes the pages fly by.

Justine isn't your usual historical romance heroine. Breaking free of the rules of the time, Justine wanted to be the first female detective (this reminded me of The Alienist a bit) which intrigued me.

Justine was determined, and strong, although I felt several of the choices/actions/reactions she made didn't fit her personality. In the era and setting, I thought she would have experienced more backlash for acting more like a woman of our current time. As this is fiction, I appreciated that Justine wasn't a wishy-washy damsel in distress. I will point out, her personality and actions seem more fitting for a much older woman, not a girl of twenty of that era and location.

In his early thirties, Jack is a criminal, there is just no other way to state that. A lord of the dark underbelly beneath the city, where crime rules. Obviously, this made Jack a swoon-worthy hero, the total opposite of his crime-stopping counterpart. That is where the delicious angst comes into play.

I will admit, my heart clenches when I read how a man thinks his love interest isn't pretty/beautiful/shapely enough, as it makes an imbalance. We all have insecurities, and not all of us can be models of what society deems attractive for the times. But it hurts to read the hero thinking the heroine homely, but deciding she's beautiful after getting to know her. It sparks of arrogance, like he believes someone who isn't to his beauty standards is unworthy or he deserves someone better. This is usually one-sided, as it's only been one or two times in thousands of books where the heroine thought that of the hero, but an ongoing occurrence for the hero thinking the heroine not worthy of him, until she changes his mind by "not being like the other girls." The crime boss activity didn't make me dislike Jack, but that offhand comment soured the romance for me.

Avoiding the major plot points, as that's for readers to discover. I read the novel in one sitting, finding entertainment and escapism. Quick-paced, with polar opposite characters falling for one another.

One of the things I disliked the most is how much Jack had to change in order to fit into the relationship with Justine. I've read plenty of series where the "Devil" got to keep his position, and the heroine used it their advantage in what they were trying to achieve. It felt as if Jack loses who he is, loses his edge and turns soft, as if a woman "changed" him. Your personality doesn't change, no matter who you're in a relationship with. If it changes, then you're just an actor staring in your own life.

The faster I read, the less likely I was to spot inconsistencies, but they were still there. I won't bog this down by listing them. Simply stating those inconsistencies were the major reason I couldn't rate the novel higher. Characters acting/reacting out of the traits they were given. Timeline issues of how long Justine had been engaged in certain activities, as that would have placed her as a young teen, who wouldn't have been able to have such free reign in New York City, due to the era and the rights of woman at the time, as well as how a young girl could have easily fallen to violence. The way the sisters related to one another from book to book, to where they felt like different characters entirely, with different ways of reacting to one another, which was highly inconsistent across the board.

Highly recommend to fans of the author, of the series, and Historical Romance in general. I'm eager to pick up whatever Joanna Shupe releases next.
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