Welcome to the sixth month of the Unlocking the Past 2021 Reading Challenge. We are halfway through!!!! This month focuses on the Gilded Age. The Gilded Age is a period the 1870s and 1900. This is the time period in which we think of rich societies, industrialization, labor strikes, and the World’s Fair.

When it comes to this time period, I have quite the collection. Enjoy the perusal through my virtual bookshelf and then add your suggestions in the comments. You’ll notice I have a LOT of Jen Turano. She’s one of my favorite Gilded Age authors. Elizabeth Camden is newer to me, but I am definitely enjoying her too. At the bottom of my post, I’m including books suggested by others.

Add your suggestions in the comments, and/or tell me what you are reading. Have you read any of these below? Which one should I choose for this month? Let me know.

Also, if a title has (read and reviewed), clicking on that takes you to a review I’ve written on that book. Just in case you are interested in learning more.

Monthly Reminders:

*If you read a book for May, don’t forget to go to yesterday’s post (RCR: The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain) to comment and get your name entered for your chance to win a print copy. (You’ll also earn your entry for the end of the year giveaway.)

*You can also join the Facebook Group. for more interaction and suggestions, or if you’d like a bookmark to remind you of the monthly challenges, fill out this Google Form.

From My Shelf

After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.

Other titles in the series: In Good Company, Playing the Part

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turnano

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country.
When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .

Other titles in the series: Out of the Ordinary, Caught by Surprise

A Change of Fortune by Jen Turano

Lady Eliza Sumner is on a mission. After losing her family, her fiance, and her faith, the disappearance of her fortune is the last straw. Now, masquerading as Miss Eliza Sumner, governess-at-large, she’s determined to find the man who ran off with her fortune, reclaim the money, and head straight back to London.

Much to Mr. Hamilton Beckett’s chagrin, all the eyes of New York society–all the female ones, at least–are on him. Unfortunately for all the matchmaking mothers and eligible daughters, he has no plans to marry again, especially with his hands full keeping his business afloat and raising his two children alone.

When Eliza’s hapless attempts to regain her fortune put her right in Hamilton’s path, sparks instantly begin to fly. The discovery of a common nemesis causes them to join forces, but with all their plans falling by the wayside and their enemies getting the better of them, it will take a riot of complications for Hamilton and Eliza to realize that God just might have had a better plan in mind all along.

Other titles in the series: A Most Peculiar Circumstance, A Talent for Trouble, A Match of Wits

Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano

Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

Other titles in the series: Diamond in the Rough, Storing Up Trouble

Masquerade by Nancy Moser 

Two young women risk it all for adventure and romance.

1886. Charlotte Gleason embarks from England with conflicting emotions. She is headed to New York City to marry one of America’s wealthiest heirs—a man she has never even met.

When her doubts gain the upper hand, she swaps identities with her maid Dora. Charlotte wants a chance at “real life,” even if it means giving up financial security. It’s a risk she’s willing to take.

But what begins as the whim of a spoiled rich girl becomes a test of survival beyond her blackest nightmare.

For the maid, Dora, it’s the chance of a lifetime. She is thrust into a fairy tale life amid ball gowns and lavish mansions, yet she is tormented by the possibility of discovery. And what of the man who believes she is his intended? Can they find happiness sharing a life based on a lie?

Other titles in the series: An Unlikely Suitor

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Oliva Newport

Lucy Banning may live on the exclusive Prairie Avenue among Chicago’s rich and famous, but the expectation that she will marry an up-and-coming banker makes her question where her heart lies. The garb of a well-dressed wife may not fit as well as the life she dreams of.

When Lucy meets Will, an unconventional young architect working on plans for the upcoming 1893 World’s Fair, she begins to believe a life on her own terms might be possible. But when secrets not Lucy’s to tell get in the wrong hands, Lucy only wants to keep everyone safe.

A life of glitz and grandeur, stark social concerns, and the courage to cross lines for her convictions challenge Lucy to find her own way—and the answer to the question of whether she will ever be loved for who she truly is.

Other titles in the series: The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, The Invention of Sarah Cummings


Secrets of Slone House by Shelley Gray

Against the backdrop of the 1893 World’s Fair, a young woman finds employment with an illustrious Chicago family—a family who may guard the secret of her sister’s disappearance.

Sloane House is among the most gilded mansions of Gilded Age Chicago. Rosalind Perry, the new housemaid, pours the morning coffee before the hard gaze of her mistress.

“It’s simple, Rosalind,” she says. “I am Veronica Sloane, heiress to one of the country’s greatest fortunes. You are simply one in a long line of unsuitable maids.”

Back on the farm in Wisconsin, Rosalind’s plan had seemed logical: Move to Chicago. Get hired on at Sloane House. Discover what transpired while her sister worked as a maid there—and follow the clues to why she disappeared.

Now, as a live-in housemaid to the Sloanes, Rosalind realizes her plan had been woefully simple-minded.

She was ignorant of the hard, hidden life of a servant in a big, prominent house; of the divide between the Sloane family and the people who served them; and most of all, she had never imagined so many people could live in such proximity and keep such dark secrets.

Yet, while Sloane House is daunting, the streets of Chicago are downright dangerous. The World’s Fair has brought a new kind of crime to the city . . . and a lonely young woman is always at risk. But when Rosalind accepts the friendship of Reid Armstrong, the handsome young heir to a Chicago silver fortune, she becomes an accidental rival to Veronica Sloane.

As Rosalind continues to disguise her kinship to the missing maid—and struggles to appease her jealous mistress—she probes the dark secrets of Sloane House and comes ever closer to uncovering her sister’s mysterious fate. A fate that everyone in the house seems to know . . . but which no one dares to name.

Other Titles in the Series: Deception on Sable Hill, Whispers in the Reading Room

 The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden (read and reviewed)

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building his very successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Resolved to salvage his family before it spirals out of control, he returns to his ancestral home to save his brother and sister before it’s too late.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection. If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under. She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience.

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

Other titles in the series: A Gilded Lady, The Prince of Spies

Veiled In Smoke by Jocelyn Green (Windy City Saga, Book 1)

Meg and Sylvie Townsend manage the family bookshop and care for their father, Stephen, a veteran still suffering in mind and spirit from his time as a POW during the Civil War. But when the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago’s business district, they lose much more than just their store.

The sisters become separated from their father and make a harrowing escape from the flames with the help of Chicago Tribune reporter Nate Pierce. Once the smoke clears away, they reunite with Stephen, only to learn soon after that their family friend was murdered on the night of the fire. Even more shocking, Stephen is charged with the crime and committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove her father’s innocence before the asylum truly drives him mad.

Other titles in the series: Shadows of the White City

Books Shared with Me:

  • Bees in the Butterfly Garden by Maureen Lang
    • Other titles in the series: All In Good Time
  • Bride by Blackmail by Debbie Lynne Costello
  • Cameo Courtships Collection by Various Authors
  • Carousel Dreams by Various Authors (4 Stories of Love Spun on a Carousel)
  • A Daughter’s Inheritance by Tracie Peterson & Judith Miller

    • Other titles in the series: An Unexpected Love, A Surrendered Heart

  • Enduring Dreams by Sandra Ardoin
    • Other Titles in the series: Rekindling Trust
  • If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath (Split-time, Fantasy, Historical)
  • Have Cash Will Marry by Renee Yancy
  • The Lightkeeper’s Daughter by Colleen Coble
    • Other titles in the series: The Lightkeepers Bride, The Lightkeepers Ball
  • Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist

  • Serving Up Love Novella Collection by Various Authors
  • The Test of Gold by Renee Yancy

Check out these alternatives to Amazon:  Baker Bookhouse       Barnes & Noble      Books-a-Million      Book Depository      Bookshop.org      Christianbook.com      Get It Local      Indiebound.org

Leave Your Comments:

If you have a favorite book or author who writes in this time, put it in the comments so other readers can know who to go search out for options. Old or new, it doesn’t matter. 🙂

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