Misfit's Reviews > A Race to Splendor

A Race to Splendor by Ciji Ware
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's review
Oct 31, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, california
Read from February 17 to 20, 2011

San Francisco, 1906. Amelia Bradshaw returns home from her architectural studies in Paris only to find her beloved grandfather dead and the family's grand hotel on Nob Hill lost by her drunken fool of a father during a game of cards. Amelia loses her legal battle with the winner of the card game, J.D. Thayer, and takes employment with her mentor, architect Julia Morgan. And just who is Julia Morgan do you ask? You can read about her on the net, but her most famous project is the little house that Julia built for William Randolph Hearst.

The big earthquake hits and events take a bit of a turn for Amelia. What wasn't destroyed in the earthquake burned during the subsequent fires and that includes her beloved Bay View Hotel. Julia's firm is hired to restore the Fairmont Hotel, as well as the Bay View and the race is on to restore both hotels to their full splendor so that they can reopen on the first anniversary of the disaster. Despite their past differences, Amelia and J.D. work together towards the common goal of restoring the Bay View, but they are beset from all sides by corrupt government, graft, shady labor organizations and other evil baddies who want the hotel for their own. And what about her father? Is it possible he had the poker hand of a lifetime and won it all back the moment the earth shook? If so, can she find the missing cards and wrest ownership of the Bay View away from J.D. Thayer? Will Amelia and J.D. ever stop dancing around each other and realize there's some serious chemistry there?

I'm not telling. Despite a few quibbles towards the end, I really did enjoy this a lot and blew through it quite quickly. The architectural details and building challenges might bore some readers, but I found them fascinating. I really liked the character of Amelia, she was strong, intelligent and assertive without that annoying I Am Woman Hear Me Roar attitude you can get from some heroines. How nice that she could intelligently assert her independence and make wise choices in the face of danger instead of stupidly rushing out in the middle of night, thus requiring constant rescue by the hero :)

I found it very refreshing to learn that men found Amelia attractive without heaving bosoms or ripped bodices, as well as seeing the conflicts between the pair without the done to death trope of instant passion and loathing anytime a pair is in a room together. Another big thumbs up to Ms. Ware for writing well-rounded baddies and showing us why they're bad instead of telling us with snarling lips, stinking breath and feral smiles. As for the quibbles? IMHO things fell apart just a tad at the end, when all of a sudden it's time for the book to end and several pages of exposition are needed to wrap up the loose ends. Still, I enjoyed this overall and one I would heartily recommend to others, especially those interested in San Francisco history.
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Reading Progress

02/17/2011 page 1
0.0% "From the author's forward about architect Julia Morgan, "I first heard of Morgan's name as a teenager when I stood with a gaggle of 'grown-ups' in the forecourt of Hearst Castle, the fantastical Shangri-la...The guide drew our attention to the massive structure's wedding-cake towers..." " 2 comments
02/18/2011 page 33
6.0% "Amelia's mentor, architect Julia Morgan And what did Julia build? "
02/18/2011 page 52
10.0% "April 18, 1906. "
02/18/2011 page 64
12.0% ""As of five fifteen that morning, the entire place looked as if a barrage of cannon fire ripped through all four walls and pummelled the occupants, including Thayer. Amelia found her gaze once more drifting toward the pale arm of a woman buried beneath a pile of plaster and bricks."" 2 comments
02/19/2011 page 926
170.0% "Post earthquake shelters at the Presidio "
02/19/2011 page 130
24.0% ""Two hotels built in ten months' time in a city surround by four hundred blocks of rubble, plagued by a shortage of labor, and infested with the worst sort of policial corruption?" Not in this book but I can't resist another shot of the house that Julia built: " 9 comments
02/19/2011 page 168
31.0% "Ahh, JD's past takes on some interesting twists. Julia Morgan has committed to rebuilding the Fairmont and the Bay View "
02/19/2011 page 206
38.0% "In 1901, the fortress's cannons had been dismantled and J.D. wondered what the desolate twelve acres in the middle of the bay was good for now. "
02/19/2011 page 248
46.0% "Dinner at the Cliff House Pssst, some really cool historic images of Cliff house here, http://www.cliffhouse.com/"
02/19/2011 page 284
52.0% "The latest headline in the San Francisco Call RIVAL FEMALE ARCHITECTS REBUILD CITY!" 2 comments
02/19/2011 page 320
59.0% "Oooh, Ezra Kemp doesn't mess around in the dirty tricks department."
02/19/2011 page 378
69.0% "An oft mentioned off-screen character is Rudolf Spreckels of the sugar fortune and also who contributed a lot to the Maryhill Museum in Washington. [image error]" 2 comments
02/19/2011 page 408
75.0% "The Saint Francis reopens "
02/19/2011 page 455
84.0% "Things are going a bit OTT in the soap opera department." 2 comments
06/09/2016 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

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Tara Chevrestt This has caught my eye. I never did hear back from SB though.. I may be in for a long wait. LOL

message 2: by Marg (new) - added it

Marg According to her website it is her first new book in a decade.

Misfit Marg wrote: "According to her website it is her first new book in a decade."

That's what I'm hearing. I can't wait for this one.

message 4: by Karla (new) - added it

Karla Have never seen it in her list of books so yeah, new! Sweet!

Misfit Karla wrote: "Have never seen it in her list of books so yeah, new! Sweet!"

I am very very glad Sourcebooks is so good about getting ARC's out early.

Misfit **Jumps up and down with glee**

It's here it's here it's here!!!

message 7: by Jill (new)

Jill I want to read this one!

Misfit Jill wrote: "I want to read this one!"

So far so good. Frequent updates promised.

message 9: by Jill (new)

Jill Misfit wrote: "Jill wrote: "I want to read this one!"

So far so good. Frequent updates promised."


Misfit One thing I'll say so far, although it is still early going. I have a fair idea who the love interest will be, but so refreshing that despite the conflicts and dislike they're not panting over each other in secret forbidden lust.

(Don't tell Karla, Jeanine and Tammy I said that)

message 11: by Marg (new) - added it

Marg You know, I can't remember if I asked for this one or not. I think I did. Guess I will just have to wait to see if the fedex bloke turns up some time this week.

Misfit Your fedex guy might take a bit longer, as mine just landed yesterday. I am very interested to compare the Ciji Ware of the Big Books 80's to what comes out now. Not that I disliked her 80's books at all, but I thought some editing might have been in order, especially towards the last.

message 13: by Marg (new) - added it

Marg I mostly liked cottage by the sea, although there were some issues with it, so guess time will tell

Misfit That's the one I didn't read.

message 15: by Tara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tara Chevrestt Bummer!! I am dying to know your thoughts now. I will keep watching for your review.

Misfit I'll drop you a line.

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Thats ok..it will be worth the wait :)

message 18: by Karla (new) - added it

Karla I see Harriet gave this the elusive and coveted 5 stars. :P

Misfit Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "I see Harriet gave this the elusive and coveted 5 stars. :P"

Of course. I was going to wait a few more days but since she posted I figured what the heck. I already sent my copy on to Tara or I'd have sent it your way.

Gaile Is this a new title as I haven't heard of it yet although I have already read two of Ciji Ware's titles. Another one to add to my list!

Misfit Gaile wrote: "Is this a new title as I haven't heard of it yet although I have already read two of Ciji Ware's titles. Another one to add to my list!"

This is a brand new one from Ciji Ware.

Misfit Hey all, this one's up for a giveaway at Goodreads.

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* US only :( **sigh**

Misfit Argh

Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~* Misfit wrote: "Argh"

Yes..Its always the ones that look so good too..not fair.."Humpf"

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