Book Review: "Love On a Dime" by Cara Lynn James

Summary from Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.

But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.

No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.

But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family's social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.

Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?

We've always been interested in how the rich and famous live. Even back in the Gilded Age, seeing how that society live shows the contrast between classes. The upper class gets to wine and dine, attending fancy parties and balls, schmoozing on the beaches while their servants had to clean up after them and made sure all the comforts of home was available at their summer beach houses while staying in the background.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I liked Lilly's character a lot because I admired her for doing what she loved even though society would have cast her out. I was a bit wary of Jackson at first because his reasons for ditching Lilly in the beginning was a bit weak. Luckily for him, Lilly's current beau was a total cad who still was tied to his mother's apron strings. This made Jackson a lot more favorable in my eyes because at least he had a good job with great opportunities and respected women authors even though he doesn't know Fanny Cole's true identity.

The best part of the story for me was learning how the publishing industry during the Gilded Age period. From my own studies, I knew about the popularity of dime store novels and westerns. I enjoyed reading about how an independent woman like Lilly was able to make a living for herself writing stories that were enjoyable without being morally offensive. The interesting thing that stood out to me though was that only someone in the rich upper class would have been able to have the time to write and get their book published. Those who were working class or servants would have never had the time to read much less write anything. Not that I'm saying that there's anything wrong with Lilly writing but it's just an interesting look at how much free time upper class society had.

Overall this was a fun and enjoyable read. There are some historical aspects to the story but it's more of a historical romance than historical fiction. It's a faith based story so there are references to Christianity but it's not very heavy handed. I wish that there had been excerpts from Lilly's books as it would have been interesting to see if they really were as captivating as everyone made them claim to be in the story. I really enjoy James' style of writing and I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

Love On a Dime by Cara Lynn James is published by Thomas Nelson (2010)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. I just finished this one also! I got it free for my Kindle and read it as my first book completed in 2011 :) I also thought it was enjoyable, and termed it a historical romance.

    Happy Reading in the new year! :)


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