mogulMogul by Joanna Shupe

Published by: Zebra

Format: mobi

Genre: Historical romance

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Erin

What to Expect: Second chance romance and a “past is prologue” accounting of the Chinese Exclusion Act

As owner of a well-respected national newspaper, Calvin Cabot has the means to indulge his capricious taste for excess–and the power to bring the upper crust of society to its knees. So when a desperate heiress from his past begs for his help, Calvin agrees . . . as long as she promises to stay out of his way. Except, like the newsman, this willful beauty always gets what she wants . . .

Lillian Davies lives a life brimming with boundless parties, impressive yachts, and exotic getaways. But when her brother disappears, Lily knows that blood runs thicker than champagne and she’ll spare nothing to bring him back alive. Unfortunately, the only man who can help her is the one she never wanted to see again. Can Lily keep Calvin at arm’s length long enough to save her brother and protect her name . . . even when the tenacious power broker turns out to be absolutely irresistible?

This was a hard review to write.

Mogul is a story centered around the Chinese Exclusion Act, the racist and punitive anti-immigration law instituted in 1882.

Yeah. So. We can’t ignore the fascist orange elephant in the room here. I am writing this review less than 24 hours after President Trump initiated the anti-Muslim ban on individuals traveling to the United States. I was going to write about how hot this romance is, and how well-researched it is. I was going to jump up and down and squeal about how much I love this book. And I do love this book, but it has become shockingly, unexpectedly relevant. This is a story about families being torn apart. About racism and isolationism and how it’s stained our history and our future. It’s about money and power and how that intersects with politics and class. This has suddenly become a potentially triggering and painful book to read for some folks, who may be afraid for their own families. If that’s you, please consider this a warning and do what you need for your own self-care.

That said, I highly recommend Mogul. This is a second chance romance (the hero and heroine were married and their marriage was annulled) with glorious sexual and romantic tension. There are some misunderstandings that could be cleared up by just talking to each other, but I think Shupe makes a good case for them simply not trusting each other enough to share information. Also, Calvin is keeping secrets that are not his to share, which adds to the misunderstanding.

Lily and Calvin have explosive chemistry and are profoundly drawn to each other despite their best intentions. They fight and argue and scheme against each other and yet…they can’t stay away. There is one scene involving a bathtub that is just…*wipes sweat away* I read it and then I reread it. And maybe I read it again. And again just now as I was writing the review. I should add that there is enthusiastic, vocal, very sexy consent throughout this whole book. I love it when authors can write natural-sounding consent that is desperate and hot.

As per usual for this author, this book is meticulously researched and her settings are so immersive. My one complaint about the book is that there are a lot of plots and subplots…they do all come together at the end, but there doesn’t feel like enough of a strong overarching story at times. Also, I would like to see the story of the Chinese Exclusion Act written without white characters at the center, but I think Shupe does a good job of avoiding the white savior trope and giving her Chinese characters individuality and agency, though I’d be interested to hear others’ opinions on that as well. 

Art is political. Romance is political. Mogul is the story about love across class, love across an ocean, love in defiance of your family, and love in defiance of a country. I can’t think of a better, more timely book right now, just as we are in the midst of repeating a shameful era of American history. 

What you might not like: This might not be the escapism you’re looking for in historical romance right now.

What I loved: The detailed and immersive research, the large cast of secondary and tertiary characters and that bathtub scene.


Erin

Erin is a full time contributor to Binge on Books. She is a voracious reader and reviewer who has been been reading romances since she stole them from under her neighbor’s mom’s bed while she was at work. You can read all her reviews here.

Connect with Erin on Twitter: @booksandjoe

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