Publisher: Sourcebooks, April 1st 2011
A tale of rivalry, redemption, and the rebuilding of a devastated city
New architect Amelia Bradshaw returns to the city to claim what's left of the Bay View, her grandfather's hotel next to Chinatown, only to find that her drunkard father has lost it to J.D. Thayer in a poker game. After an unsuccessful court battle—at a time when women had no right of possession—Bradshaw takes a job as junior architect under Julia Morgan, the first licensed female architect in California history. When Morgan's firm is selected to rebuild the Bay View, along with its competitor, the Fairmont, Bradshaw is put in charge of the former, forcing her to work closely with Mr. Thayer, her adversary, who is determined to beat the anniversary of the quake and the opening of the Fairmont. In time, Bradshaw and Thayer learn that they have more in common than they think, and Bradshaw grows close to some of the Chinese workers, giving Ware a chance to chronicle the despair faced by that community during the disaster. Ware's trailblazing woman is a feisty host for an affecting story of the struggle to rise above the wreckage of mankind.
This was my first book by Ware and I certainly hope it will not be my last because it was a good one. It's set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the fires that destroyed much of the city. Early on tragedy strikes and then we get to see how the city is rebuilt. Or should we say how two hotels are rebuilt.
Ware took the real historical character of Julia Morgan and let her finish her Fairmont hotel, and then she created the main character and let her work for Julia on another site. And it was not easy being a female architect at a time like this. But Amelia, the heroine, knows what she wants and this is it. She goes for it, and she works hard and she does not let any man put her down. I liked and respected her. The hero on the other hand was a scoundrel (I just have to use that world cos I love it). She feels that he stole the hotel from her family, that he uses prostitutes at his club, and that he is a lowlife. But then there is more to J.D.Thayer than meets the eye. I have the same concerns at first, I never dislike him though, I was just wary of him. But little by little the real person behind is revealed, and I fall for him just as Amelia unwillingly does.
There is so much more to this book than the building of the hotel and a slowly growing romance. There is an insight into the conditions of the Chinese, women kidnapped and forced to become prostitutes, and the how bad the whole population was treated. There is also the plot where the bad guy wants to destroy what Thayer is working for, one way or another.
A great historical novel set against an interesting time that I have not read much about, I also found it interesting that women could be architects at that time and was hired (even if it only was J Morgan.) This is a book that I would recommend to fans of historical fiction, and to the rest of you too. It has romance, suspense, and backstabbing.
I am going to read more by this author. A great story.
It does look nice but I wanna see her face
I got this book from the publisher, all thoughts are my own.
Come back tomorrow when I have Ciji over for an interview and I am giving away a copy of this book.