Monday, April 11, 2011

Review: A Race To Splendor

A Race To Splendor by Ciji Ware

Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Pages: Paperback, 544pp
ISBN-13: 9781402222696

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Ciji Ware on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Excerpt from A Race To Splendor (courtesy of aisle b reviews)

Synopsis (Book Blurb):


From the ashes of destruction, two women find themselves pitted against each other in a ruthless competition of daring, corruption, and unimaginable splendor.
Fortune and power lie before them... but only for the one who wins...

Author Ciji Ware captivates with this gripping story of clash and courage. The passion of Amelia Bradshaw will enthrall you as she duels to create beauty out of untold destruction.


Ciji Ware's attention to detail and strong female characters will have readers standing in line to get A Race To Splendor. Fans have waited ten years for Ware's latest book and they certainly won't be disappointed with this historical romance set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. With in depth research on everything from architectural terms to the plight of Chinese immigrants after the quake, Ware gives readers a book that is educational as well as entertaining.

Amelia Bradshaw returns home to San Francisco after studying in Paris. She intends to take over her grandfather's hotel, the BayView on Nob Hill, but is shattered to find that her father has lost the beloved hotel in a poker game to J.D. Thayer. After a heated court battle Amelia has little else to do but find work for herself. Amelia finds a job with Julia Morgan, the first licensed architect in California history. Morgan's firm is charged with rebuilding both the BayView and The Fairmont hotels after the tragic 1906 earthquake. Though Thayer now owns the hotel, Bradshaw is forced to work with him to try to finish both hotels before the one year anniversary of the quake. Her feelings for him become stronger as the work against the clock in a very male dominated profession. The odds are against them as well as several people who epitomize the word "villain".

Ware's first book in ten years was certainly worth wait for readers who love historical fiction and romance. Ware's trademark smooth style and strong female characters make this a great read. Amelia Bradshaw isn't your typical woman of the times. She is interested in a profession that has been largely dominated by men, architecture. Ware uses the historical figure, Julia Morgan as Bradshaw's mentor and boss in this book. Morgan is an impressive lady, who's most acclaimed project was a place she built for none other than William Randolph Hearst. Ware uses Morgan's character in a way that gives her life, but doesn't make her the center of attention in this book.

Ware is known for strong female characters and Amelia Bradshaw would certainly fit into that category. She is assertive but not pertinacious. She gives off an air of confidence in herself and her abilities. She isn't the kind of character who needs someone to bail her out every time she turns around. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to make it happen. She isn't a damsel in distress, and I found that very appealing. Women don't always have to appear weak in order for there to be a need for a hero. I thought that aspect of her character was very well written.

Bradshaw's romance with Thayer was interesting and believable. There feelings for each other grow at a steady pace. They don't just jump into it as happens in a lot of romance novels. Let's face it, most girls would not want to fall in love with the man they feel is responsible for taking away their family place of business. So her feelings are quite a surprise to Bradshaw. I thought Ware did an excellent job of bringing the two characters together and allowing their feelings to mature and grow.

Ware's attention to history and detail is the best part of this book for me. As a former history major, I always enjoy reading the historical details that make historical fiction come alive. Ware makes even the tedious job of architecture interesting and full of surprises. She brings out the plight of Chinese workers who made up a part of the population of San Francisco during this time and what they faced after the earthquake as well. Ware's descriptions of the quake itself were riveting and heart wrenching. I had not read much about the 1906 earthquake before this, but through this book, I'm not interested in reading more about the subject. Ware's research is impeccable and she brings these situations and circumstances to life for readers. She gives a face to a tragedy that many don't know much about and I thought she did a wonderful job of it.

A Race to Splendor is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Ciji Ware has been an award-winning television producer, reporter, writer, and radio host. A Harvard graduate, she has written numerous historical and romance novels as well as non-fiction. When she's not writing, Ware is a Scottish history and dance aficionado. She lives with her husband in San Francisco.


Blodeuedd said...

Great review :)
I really enjoyed this book, and it sure was something I haven't read about before

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I bought this last week and can't wait to get to read it. It will be my first Ciji Ware book but I am thinking it won't be my last. Thanks for the great review.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

This looks so amazing-your review makes me want to run out and find a copy now! I've never read any Ware but it sounds like she's an amazing writer and brings in a lot of great historical details to bring the time period to life, which I love.