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The Golden City #2

The Depth of Beauty

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This is an alternate cover edition for ASIN B019NLLIZ2

In 1903 San Francisco’s Chinatown, slavery, polygamy, and rampant prostitution are thriving— just blocks away from the city’s elite, progressive society.
Wealthy and well-connected, Will Firestone enters the mysterious enclave with an eye toward expanding his shipping business. What he finds there will astonish him. With the help of an exotic young widow and a gifted teenage orphan, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery, where lust, love and tragedy will change his life forever.
A stand-alone novel, The Depth of Beauty is the latest addition to the dual genre series, “Sinner’s Grove,” which chronicles the family and friends of a world-famous artists’ retreat on the northern California coast. The stories follow both historical and contemporary tracks and can be read separately or together for greater depth. Other titles in the series include the award-winning The Art of Love, Sinner’s Grove and The Lair.

303 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 2016

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About the author

A.B. Michaels

16 books372 followers
A native of northern California, A.B. Michaels earned masters' degrees in history and broadcasting, and worked for many years in public relations and marketing. Now that she's an empty nester, she has time to write the kinds of stories she loves to read. Her historical series, "The Golden City," follows characters who make their way in turn of the twentieth century San Francisco. "I love creating flawed characters I can relate to, who have to make difficult choices, and who long for happiness like the rest of us. So much was happening in the early 1900's that help shape my novels. Once I tear myself away from the underlying research, they are fascinating stories to write."

Currently Ms. Michaels lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband and two furry creatures who are unclear on the concept that they are just dogs. In addition to writing, she loves to read and travel. A dabbler in fabric art, she also plays bocce in a summer league. Her latest stand-alone novel, "The Price of Compassion," is Book Four of the "Golden City" series. It's scheduled for release this summer and will be followed by Book Five, "Josephine's Daughter."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews
Profile Image for Les Romantiques.
568 reviews17 followers
March 4, 2016
Posted on Les Romantiques - Le forum du site
Reviewed by Agnes
Review Copy from the Publisher

The depth of beauty is part of the Sinner’s grove series, about a retreat for artists founded at the beginning of the 20th century. The first book is The art of love, it’s the story of the founders of the retreat, Gus and Lia Wolff, and one can feel there will be another book, probably with Kat Firestone, the sister of the hero in The depth of beauty. There is also a contemporary series, the first book is called Sinner’s grove and the action takes place in the same place.

I haven’t read the first book, and although I could sense that it existed, and that things had taken place before, it wasn’t a problem at all to read The depth of beauty. The book is a mixed bag: half historical fiction, with an original setting on which the author gives a lot of information (San Francisco at the beginning of the 20th century, specifically Chinatown, and the tense relations between Chinese immigrants and the rest of the population), half romance with a love story that begins immediately between the rich Will Firestone and the poor orphan Amanda Culpepper.

Let’s say that the author should perhaps have chosen one or the other, because this book is a pleasant enough read, but neither a riveting historical rendition, nor a captivating romance.

Concerning the historical part, one can feel the author has done research, she knows things but uses them rather clumsily. I never felt transported to San Francisco in the year 1903. There is a rather ridiculous scene, where a Chinese thug, who sells opium and forces innocent young girls into prostitution, abducts the heroin. He is rapidly brought to reason with a strong sermon by the inevitable missionary… well… was I suppose to tremble in my shoes? This villain looks more like one of those Hollywood actors, who inexplicably play characters from a racial minority that is not their own. It all feels rather fake. Not to mention the earthquake, followed by a terrible fire that destroyed 80% of San Francisco, that the author makes us feel with the intensity of a wastebasket fire.

The tensions between the Chinese community and the rest of the San Francisco population are explored, but with a rather anachronistic point of view: on page 2 the super rich hero becomes inexplicably conscious that the Chinese are not that bad and filthy, and could even make him some money if he manages well! Then he falls in love with a Chinese woman because she is beauuuutiful (even though she has lotus feet, and that’s really wrong). At that moment I thought: wow, the author takes a completely unexpected turn, a multiracial romance? But don’t fret, this crush is rapidly dealt with and dear Will can go back to the poor and so beauuuutiful orphan who was meant for him in the first place.

This brings me to the romance, also rather superficial, between Will and Mandy. She loves him as soon as she sees him, because he is soooo good looking! Note: she just lost her beloved father, crushed by a tree, and is now an orphan. Don’t you think that under such circumstances, even Chris Pratt should struggle to make her heart beat faster? And yet Mandy is the character that I liked the most. Sure, she seems to come directly from a children’s fairytale: beautiful, intelligent, altruistic, she loves babies, and so on. But we can feel her pain when Will acts like an ass, for no real good reason.

As for him, well I had difficulties caring for his rich boy’s moods. At one point he wants to prove to himself that he could be successful without his family’s money, and enrolls on a boat as a simple deck hand to go on an adventure around the world for two years! Wow! What an intrepid guy. Well, considering that, if anything had happened to you, you would just have had to call mommy and daddy to the rescue, it’s not exactly the same thing as being a real adventurer, without a safety net, see? And during these two years, he sleeps with six women, states the author, but fortunately doesn’t catch any venereal disease, so everything is okay. As far as I’m concerned, he could as well have gone to hell… lol

In conclusion, I’d say that this book is rather interesting, mainly because of the historical background. It’s easy to read, but really not unforgettable.
Profile Image for Dean McIntyre.
495 reviews1 follower
April 13, 2020
THE DEPTH OF BEAUTY by A.B. Michaels was billed as historical fiction, although I might want to categorize it as historical romance. But whichever is best, I enjoyed it, as reflected by my four-star rating, always reflective of how much I enjoy a work rather than its rank as great fiction. It is set in the first decade of the 20th century in San Francisco. Young, privileged, successful Will Firestone goes to Chinatown, desiring to expand his shipping business. He encounters poverty, disease, prostitution, slavery, gangs, violence, exploitation, but also several inhabitants who will change his life. One is Mandy, a young orphan teenager who will have a profound role to play in his life and in his own journey of self-discovery. There is a finale set amidst the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906. The book will probably not be included among the greatest of American fiction, but with the strong, well-developed characters, interesting plot, engaging incidents, the author's skill as a writer/storyteller, you'll likely enjoy it.
January 9, 2016
The Depth of Beauty is the latest book in the Sinner's Grove series and transports us back to San Francisco at the start of the Twentieth Century for a sweeping historical drama/romance chronicling the life and society of businessman, Will Firestone.

I am once again astounded and in awe of the research that the author has done to bring this time period to life. The detail in the book is amazing; it was honestly a feast for the senses. I swear I could see, touch and smell everything the characters in the story did in full HD technicolour.

Although born into the cream of society, Will is not a man to sit on his laurels. He strives for more in life and seeks to make his own fortune. Seeing an opportunity to expand his shipping business in Chinatown, Will embarks on forging new relationships and business connections with its’ inhabitants. In the process he unravels some of the mysteries surrounding the new immigrants and their culture. Including some of their customs which are not very palatable to a modern, forwarding thinking man like Will.

All the while Will is on his voyage of self-discovery, there is a whole plethora of secondary characters including that of his sister’s ward, Mandy and of course Sinner's Grove itself.

I loved Mandy. The young girl has experienced so much pain and heartache already in her life. Now she suddenly finds herself thrust into a society she knows nothing about and sets about finding her own place in the world.

As the story is told over four years we watch Mandy bloom into a wonderful and gifted young woman. She is so intuitive and has an ability to read almost any situation and person. A fact which unnerves Will as she really ‘sees’ him. We get an insight into Mandy’s thoughts and feelings as she reveals all in her journal entries throughout the book.

With outbreaks of the plague, kidnappings, threats of violence and earthquakes we experience all highs and lows, love and loss that this tale has to offer.

I freely admit I was in tears a few times in this book as ‘the feels’ were too much at times. I also went a bit daft with the highlighter on my kindle as so many phrases and points in the book ‘spoke’ to me. However, I don’t want to share them here as I want you to experience them first hand like I did. You NEED to read this book!!

I am in love with this author’s writing and the worlds she creates.
Profile Image for Ms. Reader.
480 reviews1 follower
January 5, 2016
I received this book for free from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for an honest review...

I wanted to get into this book. I really wanted to enjoy it. It was so bland and dull, and felt like it carried off to nowhere. The characters were weak and unappealing, the plot was even weaker, and there didn't feel like any real point to the storyline. Within a few chapters, this book became a huge snooze-fest. It was boring from the start and disappointingly, didn't pick up at all. I was not happy with this book at all.
Profile Image for Jennifer Lara.
654 reviews2 followers
March 18, 2021
The Depth of Beauty is the second book in A.B. Michaels’ The Golden City series. It is 1903, San Francisco and Chinatown is teeming with a vice just blocks away from the city’s elties. But Will Firestone sees the district as a potential business market for his shipping enterprise. Dazzled by the exotic young widow from Canton, Will is drawn into the area with a decision that will rock his foundation and lead him down a treacherous path. Country girl, Maddy Culpepper is only fifteen when she’s orphaned and becomes a ward of the Firestone family. Grateful for her new privilege status, she is determined to give back. She decides to help the Chinese immigrant girls in jeopardy, even if it means her own safety and puts her at odds with her guardians and other elites. The tensions are rising between the city's powerful and the evil foreigners but an horrifying disease will bring them together in ways no one imagined and thrust them together for a fight for their very lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Golden City, The Art of Love, and I looked forward to continuing the series. However, The Depth of Beauty did not have the same impact as the first book. It was slow and dragged the tensions between the city elites and the Chinese immigrants for far too long. The epidemic which plagues the city seems to be an afterthought, although historical, and wasn’t fully flushed out. It was hard to get invested in any of the characters and I was intrigued that the book would focus on San Francisco’s growing Chinese immigrant population, but I felt I wasn’t truly getting a picture of the widespread racism and discriminations against the Chinese immigrants at the time. The relationship between Will and Maddy seemed forced and far-fetched, although the age difference would have been common for the time. There was so much potential that the book presents but couldn’t fulfill all of it. The Depth of Beauty was a disappointment after The Art of Love. I do not recommend The Depth of Beauty.

The Depth of Beauty is available in paperback and eBook.
2,102 reviews30 followers
April 22, 2020
They met because his company made her an orphan. Amanda 'Mandy' Culpepper was just 15 and William 'Will' Firestone was 27, already a part owner of a dynamic company with several interests in shipping and trade as well as being a member of the San Francisco elite. When Mandy set her knowing eyes on Will, she uncannily knew he was her 'other half' but not so with him. In reparation and to solve the problem of her guardianship, Will's sister Katherine 'Kit' volunteered to be her guardian. But his is more than just a love story... it also involves the plight and flight of numerous Chinese women who were brought to San Francisco as wives, slaves and prostitutes... there was also the prejudice against the Chinese as a people hence Chinatown... like an Indian reservation. Chinese tradition and cultural differences made it easy for the tongs to profit from prostitution... then there was also Donaldina Cameron who offered sanctuary for the girls in exchange for converting to Christianity... definitely a road to hell for the girls... with the language and tradition barriers to contend with plus their own survival fears in a strange land... then religion, carrying with it its own prejudice. There are other sub~plots here that were part of the Timeline drama like the remnant of the Bubonic Plague from the rats in Chinatown, the San Francisco Quake, the efforts of the taipans to bridge the gap between the two cultures, personal inter~racial relationships, ignorance and prejudice regarding race and other concepts. An enthralling revelation, at least for this reader.
15 reviews
May 8, 2020
American Chinese History

I hated history as a teenager, so try to.make up for my deficiencies by reading historical fiction. I was aware that Chinese men were brought to America to work in the mines of the west and on the railroad tracks from the west coast. But there has to be more events that attracted them to leave their native country. I visited China in the 1980's that made my interest in Chinese -American history, but hadn't become aware of any historical fiction about them until The Golden City.
Every minority group who have come to America have struggled to develop their own identity while maintaining a connection to their native language, customs, and ancestors. Though the principle characters in A.B. Michael's novel are the elite of San Francisco, Amanda Culpepper matures to become an intelligent, beautiful young woman who appreciates the Chinese and helps many young Chinese women to become productive, honest, artistic Chinese Americans.
Profile Image for Susan.
588 reviews2 followers
April 17, 2020
This book is the second in The Golden City series which is historical fiction from the early 1900s set in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The main characters in this book were Mandy and Will. Mandy was also in Book 1. She was the orphaned girl who is taken in by the Firestone brother and sister - Will and Lia. This book picks up the story where it left off, but it certainly can be read as a stand-alone as well. The book ends with the great earthquake that happened in San Francisco at the turn of the century. This book explores and describes the development of Chinatown in the city. The reader learns much about customs and people dedicated to making the lives of the Chinese better. Great read!
Profile Image for Don Maker.
Author 11 books5 followers
May 1, 2020
This was an extremely well-written novel, fairly simple writing, but it kept moving. I enjoyed both the characters and the story, although near the end it became a bit too 'romance' for my taste. As a writer of HF, I appreciate the excellent research that made the story rich in detail of the era, as well as the historical background of what was transpiring in San Francisco, both in the elite society and within China Town. Although this is part of a series, it indeed worked well as a stand-alone read.
June 29, 2020
Depth of Beauty is a romantic historic novel worthy of attention. Some of the novel is based on real people and events in the early 1900s with shocking, violent scenes, explosive confrontations, and compelling compassion and sacrifice. It provides a revealing history of life styles and customs of the Chinese immigrant community, the Christian missionary community attempting to embrace and protect young Chinese women from prostitution and the Tong effort to continue its prostitution and crime machine. Threaded through all of this is the romantic yearings of two lead characters.
Profile Image for Susan Zollmann.
3 reviews1 follower
February 21, 2019
A enticing slice of history awaits!

Once again, A.B. Michaels offers an intriguing tale of historical fiction set against the backdrop of the fascinating growth of the San Francisco area prior to the great earthquake, fire & plague. Each time I finish one of her books, I'm sure I've just read my very favorite - until I begin the next one! I highly encourage you to read this author's novels. You will NOT be disappointed.
17 reviews
April 27, 2020
Captivating and enthralling characters are intense page turning and usually not my type of stories . Well written and highly recommended for historical romance fans .se

Captivating and enthralling characters are intense page turning and usually not my type of stories . Well written and highly recommended for historical romance fans .se
September 7, 2020
Fine, But, Not Special.

Not quite what I was expecting. Well-written and entertaining, but, narrower than I hoped for. I thought there might be more development of the area and time in which the story took place. For me, the story just wasn't as well-developed as I would have liked
241 reviews1 follower
October 5, 2020

AB Michaels has written a wonderful testimony to love-love of family, love of a man for a woman, and love of man for fellow man. In this story, a young woman sees the plight of the downtrodden Chinese in San Francisco in the early 1900’s. She and others fight for the rights of others as they also struggle with life’s unexpected twists and turns.
38 reviews
January 6, 2021

I thought there would be more about rescuing young women from prostitution and slavery. I think the author spent too much time on the relationship between a 15-year-old girl and a 27-year-old man!. He was not only older but was sexually active while she was a proper virgin! I don't think they made a good couple!
July 24, 2022

The story started out interesting but became difficult to keep reading. In that time era, there were a few things that would have been hard to swallow. I prefer to give authors credit for having the talent to write a book. At the same time, the review for potential readers need to be honest.
Profile Image for Jon C. Hooper.
332 reviews
April 14, 2020

Must read great story - historical story of San Francisco and Chinatown and main character a young girl taken in by a brother and sister after her father died in a work accident
34 reviews
April 14, 2020
Great read!

I love historical fiction and this one doesn't miss the mark. Love the storyline and all the characters. The author knows how to make a story come to life. I hated for it to end!
40 reviews
April 16, 2020
Fascinating Look into Early San Francisco

I really enjoyed the characters and the people who influenced San Francisco in the early 1900’s. I like the way the author gave us insight into the interactions of Chinatown and the rest of San Francisco, during that time.
October 7, 2020
Excellent read!

Delightful characters and a wonderful story. The history of San Francisco and The Grove in the early 1900’s is beautifully intertwined with the love stories of several couples. Well written & extremely entertaining.
Profile Image for EvilAntie Jan.
1,321 reviews11 followers
February 21, 2021

I grew up with the stories of Chinatown and the 1906 earthquake. What an extraordinary novel, which captivated me to read in a marathon read. It was too good to put down.
213 reviews1 follower
October 23, 2022
The Depth of Beauty (The Golden City Book 2)

A great follow-up to the first story, and an in-depth look at the lives of the Chinese community in San Francisco at the beginning of the twentieth century. Looking forward to the next book in the series. Happy reading! Recommend.
51 reviews1 follower
April 11, 2020

The morning after playing Chicken Foot with Mandy, Will had headed back to the city, determined to put distance between himself and the girl.
April 20, 2020

Very realistic, told with fantastic insight into human nature! I enjoyed every minute of every hour I spent reading this book.

12 reviews
April 21, 2020
Mind Candy

This series is typical bodice-ripper romance disguised in very little history and even less accuracy. Two books purchased was two too many.
293 reviews
May 15, 2020
Great read

The story is very well written with interesting characters and scenes. It follows a lot of the history of the time. I really enjoyed reading this book.
Profile Image for Melinda Patton.
21 reviews5 followers
May 25, 2020
Lovely story! I thoroughly enjoyed the diverse characters and historical setting. It was a much needed enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Debi.
64 reviews1 follower
May 27, 2020
A lot of historical information and settings. Very creativity brought together, the time and romance, politics and humanities. I don’t do romances, but this was okay.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 36 reviews

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