I don’t even know where to begin, except to say that I loved The Devil of Downtown with every inch of my heart. The Rogue of Fifth Avenue was good; The Prince of Broadway was even better. But The Devil of Downtown worked it’s way into my heart with every adorable, steamy, heartbreaking, and love affirming moment between Jack and Justine – and it has taken it’s place as one of my favorite romances of all time.
Jack Mulligan has worked hard to get where he is as the King of Downtown. Impenetrable. Immaculate. Unstoppable. Mulligan runs his gang and his streets with an iron fist. When he’s approached by uptown girl and notorious do-gooder, Justine Greene, about finding a man in his employ who’s run out on his family, Jack has little interest in helping her. That is until he sees a golden opportunity to get close to a potential investor (Juliuuuuuus) as her escort to a fundraiser for her sister and brother-in-law’s legal aide society. He agrees to help her in exchange for one favor.
Justine is no fool. She knows better than to get into bed (figuratively) with the likes of Jack Mulligan, but she needs his help if she’s going to help the struggling family of his employee who’d up and left them (this book has a lot of UGH. MEN. moments – thankfully not from the hero). When he tells her the price for his assistance, she agrees. She knows this could ruin her in the eyes of society, but it’s a price she’s more than willing to pay in exchange for the help it provides others.
One favor and one night as an escort to a charity function, then they’d be done with each other forever. Except, Jack likes having Justine in his debt a little too much, and likes it even more when she fights back. And Justine should be focusing on her next case, but she can’t get Jack Mulligan and his stupid perfect face out of her head. As the saying goes, one thing leads to another and soon Justine is falling into bed (literally) and in love with Jack, who might not know how to say it, but DEFINITELY loves her too. When the webs that weaved them together begin tearing, will they be able to build something stronger together or will it all fall down in ruin? (It’s a romance, soooooo.)
I appreciated this book on so many levels. The Devil of Downtown takes a deep look into the history of corruption in the New York City police department in the late 1800’s (and…always?) as well as the struggles women faced when their husbands abandoned them and they were unable to divorce or get financial support for their families.
Justine is just fantastic. She really, truly cares about the well being of others above all else, but also isn’t afraid to fight for what she wants. She sees the best in everyone, even when it leads to her getting taken advantage of. (Which Jack hates.) The youngest of three headstrong women, she’s done with being told what to do – by her sisters, society, the police officer who sometimes helps her with her cases – and she’s definitely not going to take it from Jack. However, once Justine decides Jack is what she wants, she makes the first move and takes what she wants.
Jack is…sigh. Wonderful. Sure he’s a criminal, but he’s a criminal with a heart of gold. He eradicated gang violence when he was younger by consolidating the gangs under his command, refuses to own any brothels, and is known for his zero tolerance stance on violence against women. He’s gotten where he is by bartering in favors and information, and he’s not ashamed of it. But…god he’s soft. Especially with Justine. I mean, he helps in a soup kitchen when she has to cancel on him just to spend time with her. He’s also the king of consent and I LOVE it. His story arc is beautiful. While Justine is so sure of herself, Jack has a plethora of insecurities to work through. When he hurts, he hurts deeply and you feel it on the page. (Shupe is a master, truly.)
I could go on forever about how much I loved this book, but as I’ve already written a short novel, I’ll leave it at this: you absolutely will NOT regret reading The Devil of Downtown and should do so as soon as possible!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.