Joanna Shupe: Gilded Age For Dummies

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Relax! I don’t think you’re a dummy. I mean, I almost locked my keys in my car yesterday while the engine was running. So who’s really the dummy here?

Now, onto the Gilded Age.

This is a tiny pocket in history roughly between the Civil War and World War I. Most people remember the Gilded Age from history classes through long boring lectures about Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and scandals I can’t pronounce.

But stick with me. I promise you, I have the attention span of a squirrel and the Gilded Age is FASCINATING.

First, let’s talk innovation. Telephones, telegraph, skyscrapers, elevators, electricity? GILDED AGE. Not all were American inventions (most were), but they were perfected here. Why? In the Gilded Age, the U.S. economy DOUBLED IN SIZE. Business was booming. Europe didn’t have nearly the amount of money we did, so most of the technological innovations took off in America.

Oh, and did I mention AUTOMOBILES? Yeah, those were Gilded Age, too (though late in the time period, and they weren’t accessible to anyone but the rich. Don’t worry, the Gilded Age had a lot of rich people.)

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So that leads me to the wealth. Did you see the part about the U.S. economy doubling in size? America became the leading world economic force during the Gilded Age. Steel. Railroads. Oil. Textiles. Coal. All run by financial powerhouses, with household names like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Morgan, Astor.

There were no laws governing fair trade or anti-trust in those days, so it was every man for himself–literally. And with the amount of money at stake, it’s no wonder there were frequent corruption scandals.

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Lastly, the ladies. You had the socialites, throwing parties for their monkeys and elaborate costume balls where they dressed in electric gowns, but you also had new independent young women coming into the cities from the farms. They held office jobs and worked in department stores. These women weren’t forced to marry straight out of the family home and start pumping out kids. Instead, they earned their own income, rented their own rooms, and dated young men.

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Believe it or not, the bicycle craze helped, too. A bicycle allowed women more freedom in getting around. It was cheaper, and certainly more independent. Clothing was altered to assist in cycling: “Cycling required a more practical, rational form of dress, and large billowing skirts and corsets started to give way to bloomers — baggy trousers, sometimes called a divided skirt, cinched at the knee. Although bloomers first appeared decades earlier, and a major social battle was waged over their propriety, the cycling craze practically mandated changes in women’s attire for any woman who wanted to ride.”

Women mobilized in the Gilded Age. They began to speak out on issues like voting rights for women, temperance, equality, poverty, and education.

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So that’s a few reasons why the Gilded Age is totes awesome-sauce, as my daughters might say. And hey, I have a brand-new Gilded Age romance out today. If historical romance is your jam, I hope you’ll give MAGNATE a try!


Magnate compIt’s 1888 in New York City, where wealth and power are king, and one man is determined to rule — no matter the cost.

Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.

Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor…

Pick up a copy of MAGNATE here:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

xo

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New Release! TYCOON: A Gilded Age Novella

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I am so excited to announce the release of TYCOON, a novella in my “Knickerbocker Club” series. The heroine, Clara, is a perfume counter girl and she crashes into the life of Ted, a financial tycoon. Clara is spunky and fun, a mix of innocence and brash independence that I think would’ve been common of girls at that time. And our hard-working hero has no idea what to do with her. 🙂

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the journey is more pleasurable than the destination . . .

Standing on the platform at Grand Central Station, Ted Harper is surprised by a fiery kiss from an undeniably gorgeous damsel in distress. He’s certain she’s a swindler who’s only after his money, but he’s never met a woman so passionate and sure of herself. Disarmed, he invites her to spend the journey to St. Louis in his private car—perhaps against his better judgment…

Clara Dawson has long known how to take care of herself, but the savvy shop girl is at a loss when she witnesses—and becomes entangled in—a terrible crime. Desperation propels her into a stranger’s arms at the train station, but she hadn’t expected Ted to offer her the protection she so badly needs—nor did she expect their chemistry to develop more steam than the engine of the train. He’s everything she never thought she could have, and she’s everything he didn’t know he wanted. But as her secrets begin to unfurl, their fledgling romance could be in danger of derailing before they arrive at the next station…

Want to read an excerpt? Or pop over to my Facebook page for all my writing-related details, giveaways, and general awesomesauce.

TYCOON is .99 at all e-retailers:

Kindle | Nook | iBooks | Kobo

xo

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Cover Reveal: Joanna Shupe’s TYCOON

I have a new cover to share! It’s for TYCOON, an e-novella that is the first book in my upcoming Knickerbocker Club series.

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Yes, I believe that’s Grand Central at the bottom. He looks very serious, which is perfect since he’s about to be bowled over by a shop girl heroine who can’t stop talking.

This book was a lot of fun to write. In this period, young women began to come into cities to work as secretaries and shop girls, jobs that allowed them a healthy measure of independence. The heroine of TYCOON, Clara, is one of those young women. She works at the perfume counter at a fictional department store.

Here’s the blurb:

Sometimes the journey is more pleasurable than the destination . . .

Standing on the platform at Grand Central Station, Ted Harper is surprised by a fiery kiss from an undeniably gorgeous damsel in distress. He’s certain she’s a swindler who’s only after his money, but he’s never met a woman so passionate and sure of herself. Disarmed, he invites her to spend the journey to St. Louis in his private car—perhaps against his better judgment.

Clara Dawson has long known how to take care of herself, but the savvy shop girl is at a loss when she witnesses—and becomes entangled in—a terrible crime. Desperation propels her into a stranger’s arms at the train station, but she hadn’t expected Ted to offer her the protection she so badly needs—nor did she expect their chemistry to develop more steam than the engine of the train. He’s everything she never thought she could have, and she’s everything he didn’t know he wanted. But as her secrets begin to unfurl, their fledgling romance could be in danger of derailing before they arrive at the next station…

TYCOON releases February 23, 2016 in e-book from Kensington Publishing. Pre-order it for .99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or Kobo.

More info and an excerpt are available on my website.