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city-of-promiseReviewed by Lauren Cannavino

When I first opened City of Promise, I was dismayed to learn that I was reading the fourth book in a series about old New York; I felt that I would miss something or be completely lost. I finished the book in two days. I could not put it down. And the other three books in front of this one by Beverly Swerling? I want to read them all. I don’t care if they are out of order, if none of them connect old time Manhattan at all, or if they are all their own stories. I just want to read them. Swerling recreates an age of glamour, intrigue, passion, and vibrancy that we all lose in our daily lives. Blending a detailed mix of history and fiction, Swerling makes you wish you were a part of the early New York she describes.

Mollie Brannigan is the quirky, intelligent niece of the owner of a successful, classy brothel in post-Civil War New York. She dooms herself to be a spinster, until as a clerk at Macy’s, she meets Joshua Turner. Joshua is a war veteran, with a bit of a past, from an illustrious family in New York. He is captivated by Mollie, not only for her looks, but also for her charm and her confidence and the two quickly become involved. Joshua has high aspirations not only for his own life as a real estate developer, but also for the city. What comes with those aspirations is a mix of support, betrayal, back alley deals, and flat out lies. What Mollie and Joshua go through and ultimately endure together is quite remarkable.

Beverly Swerling is an excellent writer. Her characters are well developed, so much so, that you can almost envision the exact way that their brows furrow when they are thinking or angry. Equal attention and power is given to the male and female characters, something rare perhaps in this time period, but in the novel, fits perfectly. The details are not choking; the characters all develop as people of their own, while blending nicely into a twisting, action-packed plot that is not only on par with the time period, but also completely engrossing overall.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.