A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware.
- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 1, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781402222696
- ISBN-13: 978-1402222696
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0
Product Description:Review: This is a beautifully rich romance.
Set in the tumultuous aftermath of San Francisco’s devastating 1906 earthquake and fire, and based on the lives of several women apprenticed to famed Julia Morgan, California’s first licensed woman architect, this historical novel tells of the fiercely-fought competition between Nob Hill hotels to re-open their doors by the first anniversary of the disaster–proving to the country and the world that the city would rise from the ashes. Amelia Hunter Bradshaw, fresh from earning her certificate in architecture at the prestigious L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, finds herself, through a series of flukes and mishaps, in the employ of the one man determined to best Miss Morgan, Amelia’s mentoress and friend. Intrigue, political corruption, and an undeniable attraction to the mysterious James Diaz Thayer threaten not only to jeopardize her personal life, but also prove fatal to all she holds dear.
Amelia Bradshaw is a beautiful, bright woman who studied architecture in France. She returns to San Francisco to take over her Grandfather’s famous Bay View hotel. Unfortunately her father has lost the hotel in a poker game to James Diaz (J.D.) Thayer, the son of a city leader, and Ezra Kemp, a corrupt social climber. Amelia loses the legal battle for the hotel and agrees to work at night with her old school friend Julia Morgan who has already established an architecture office.
As Amelia begins to close up one dawn she feels the building shake. She is aware of pencils rattling in a cup and then she is struggling to get out of the building and stay alive. She dazedly seeks her father at the gambling club next to the Bay View and finds J.D. injured, her father with a broken back under a table and others dead. Amelia’s father insists that she look for the cards he had as he claims that he won the hotel back with a royal flush but she only has three of the cards.
The fires that follow the quakes destroy the Bay View and the nearly completed Fairmont Hotel. The owners of the Fairmont begin to rebuild with the goal of opening by the one year anniversary of the quake. J.D. decides that he too will re-build the Bay View and the race begins. Julia Morgan’s firm is working on both structures until she fires Amelia over a disagreement. J.D. wants Amelia to be his architect so she stays on that project while Julia’s firm continues the work on the Fairmont.
The Bay View rebuilding is plagued with lack of materials and labor. The labor unions won't allow the use of the Chinese but Amelia and J.D. secretly use their labor at night. But the hotel suffers from sabotage as Ezra threatens J.D. to repay loans. Amelia and J.D. grow close as they work together on rebuilding. Then Ezra blackmails J.D. insisting that J.D. marry his daughter. Even though Amelia has hoped for more, she begins to believe that J.D. only cares about the building and not about her.Will they be able to complete the Bay View before the Fairmont is completed? And who will own the Bay View when it is completed?
The story is strong on details of the quake and fire. Even though some of the statistics reflected in the story were very interesting, I wasn’t sure that such precise details of the fire heat and extensive damage would be known so soon after the disaster. I enjoyed the vivid and rich descriptions of the earthquake and the rebuilding. The characters are well developed and the interactions, from hate to love, between Amelia and J.D. are emotional, natural and make for a splendid romance. I look forward to reading more by this author.
xxxThank you to Sourcebooks for the book to read and review.
This giveaway is limited to US entries because of the weight of the book. I hope many of you were able to get a copy of this marvelous book at the reduced price offered last week.
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