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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  211 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Like Swans of Fifth Avenue and Truman Capote’s Answered Prayers, Richard Kirshenbaum's Rouge gives readers a rare front row seat into the world of high society and business through the rivalry of two beauty industry icons (think Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden), by the master marketer and chronicler of the over-moneyed.

Rouge is a sexy, glamorous journey into the ri
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 25th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  211 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jun 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wowza! Rouge was fun, enlightening, and enthralling! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Richard Kirshenbaum immediately places the reader smack dab in the mix in between two icons of the beauty industry. There’s a fierce rivalry between these two women and who will be on top of marketing make-up. But it doesn’t start and end there.

Rouge also examines the dreamers who invented the modern cosmetics industry, the woman who made herself a style icon and the richest female in the world, the woman who creates a door-to-doo
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
ɢʟᴀᴍᴏᴜʀ. ɢʟɪᴛᴢ. ᴅʀᴀᴍᴀ.

Richard Kirshenbaum has written an addictive fast-paced story packed with glitz, glamour, and an entire cosmetic case full of drama! Three strong, confident, ruthless women engage in the ultimate power struggle to become the queen of the beauty industry. The bulk of the story takes place in the 30s,40s, and 50s when it was very unusual for women to be major powers in the business world. Josephine, Constance, and CeeCee all break into the beauty Industry in very different w
Lisa Leone-campbell
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rouge is the story of three women who become entrepreneurs in the beauty industry in the 1930's. It follows their careers as they invent different types of cosmetics and the reason why they were invented. It is the story of how women can be ruthless when they are climbing the all important "ladder" of success, and how each will step on the other's toes to make it first to the top.

The story begins as the women's rag to riches stories are each told. And how backstabbing between them never stopped,
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This follows three pioneers in the beauty industry from the 1920’s all the way to the 1990’s and we get not one, but three strong, determined, and resourceful main characters to root for. Actually, I didn’t love all three, however I could admire and respect them all for their innovation and ability to break down barriers for women in the workplace, it was pretty inspiring especially as all three overcame some serious obstacles before reaching their ultimate goals and this was mainly set in the t ...more
Karen R
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Kirshenbaum’s story about early cosmetic visionaries navigating their paths from immigrant to multi-billionaire mogul felt more authentic knowing of the author’s real-life connection within the industry. I was drawn into the world of glamor, betrayal and revenge. These women were extremely competitive, shrewd and ruthless. Clearly, backstabbing to get ahead and limitless money does not buy happiness.
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
In a narrative that follows several successful female entrepreneurs in NYC as they compete for having the latest beauty products in the business, I really expected to enjoy this story of female success and rivalry. Unfortunately though, this was ultimately a miss for me.

I found the depiction of the women to be quite superficial and did not give me much insight into them as people beyond the machinations of their business and romantic entanglements. The way that gender and race particularly were
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before starting this book I wasn’t sure this would be for me, as I am not much for makeup or the beauty industry at all, but this book was fascinating! If you love historical fiction, than this one will surely satisfy!
The story follows 3 very different independent and determined women through their lives. They seem to be in competition with the other throughout their entire lives, driven by the other’s successes. Men come and go, but for all three, their one true love is their company.
Well writ
You can also read this review on my blog illbefinealonereads.

A huge thanks to St. Martin's Press for the chance to be a part of this blog tour.

My never ending quest to start liking historical fiction has once again brought me to an amazing read. Rouge has an interesting premise, but more importantly, it’s masterfully executed and exciting throughout.
I really enjoyed the story, it was full of drama and intrigue, and it just consumed me. The characters were well-developed, each with a unique perso
ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook


Once in awhile you come across a blurb that you just know you have to experience for yourself. You pick up a book and you just instantly connect. Not because of the characters or even the setting but just because it is simply written so well that you immediately get sucked into the very story itself and then before you know it, you are done. I fell in love with the characters, the setting, with it all.

Rouge is an exceptional read that not only took me by surprise but took my breath
Joan Happel
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rouge is a deliciously catty, snarky and highly entertaining portrayal of two pioneers of the beauty industry. Josephine Herz and Constance Gardiner (inspired by cosmetic icons Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden) come from very different backgrounds and wind up rivals in New York City. Josephine, a Polish Jew, is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Australia where she soon discovers her talent for salesmanship and beauty advice. After a successful start there, she moves onto London, Paris ...more
Aug 02, 2019 marked it as dnf
DNF at 40%

I was sent a copy of Rouge for review, but unfortunately this was not the book for me for several reasons.
- A lot of telling instead of showing. It reads like mediocre nonfiction rather than a novel.
- Women's bodies are regularly described in sexist and sexualized terms that play into problematic conventions of beauty and I was uncomfortable with the voyeuristic approach to the characters sexuality, or suggestions that powerful women are always masculine. Similarly, this extended to a
Pam Mooney
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating! The characters are intriguing and the plot does mirror what we see in the real world. I loved the progression of start to finish of cosmetic industry giants. The setting of the 30's and 40's really tells the story of how the eras dictated opportunities and the way people lived. The pace is fast and it is hard to pull for any one character as none are completely innocent in their cut throat approach to business and romance. A true representation of the possibilities of the American d ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story begins in 1922 and continues into 1993. Two strong, independent-minded, single women have their own dream to own a beauty business.

Josiah become Josephine Herz, a Jewess who escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland by fleeing to Melbourne Australia with an armload of facial and body creams. Josephine grows an empire of cosmetic products sold in her salons.

Meanwhile tall, blonde Constance Gardiner is in NYC setting up a door to door sales force with her beauty line giving women an opportuni
Donna Hines
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, netgalley
How long does it take to powder your nose? My word this is beyond catty between with the rivalry of the beauty powers.
Founders of makeup have arrived and they are HUNGRY for Success!
So hungry that they practically kill for their products to be the center of everyone's universe.
Josephine Herz our lead protagonists joins forces with another protagonists Constance Gardiner and the two never let up.
It's a clear race to the finish even till death (yes they go there) and boy even a few loose leaf char
The Lit Bitch
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a young girl growing up in the late 80’s, early 90’s at the height of the ‘glamour’ industry (well at least for me!), there was no way I could pass on this book.

I was exceptionally interested in cosmetics and the ‘glamor’ industry starting in my early teens, a passion the carried on into my early 20’s. In my youth, there was nothing like seeing who the new ‘Cover Girl’ was going to be, or what new makeup promised to revolutionize my beauty routine.

I was the girl who wore every single cosmetic
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
A big Thank You to St. Martins and NetGalley for a complimentary copy!
All opinions expressed are my own.

Makeup is an essential tool for nearly every woman I know. How did it become so indispensable? Rogue tells the story of the women behind the rise of beauty in a compact and a tube. Josephine Herz and Constance Gardiner (Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden) are the two driven moguls who sit at the helms of their companies. Their stories are told from the 1920's through the course of
Linda Zagon
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lindas Book Obsession Reviews “Rouge A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry” by Richard Kirshenbaum, St. Martins Press, June 25, 2019

Richard Kirshenbaum, Author of “Rouge A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry” has written an intriguing, intense, emotional and captivating novel. The Genres for this Novel are Fiction, Women’s Fiction, with a splash of Suspense. The timeline of the story progresses over the years. The author discusses the earliest cosmetic industry, and how it progresses. The characters are describ
Megan Leprich
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you so much to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book for my review.

When I was first offered this book I thought it was only a romance novel which is completely out of my comfort zone. But then as I started reading I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was more than that.

This story is about Josephine, Constance, and CeCe and their history with marriages, love, their lives, and their mistakes.

The writing was so descriptive you felt like you traveled ba
Barbara Senteney
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I was offered this book I thought it was romance, but happily there is much more than that. It's about 3 women really. Josephine and Constance who are friends and rivals. And Cee Cee who is a biracial girl who Constance wants to keep passing as white , and if anyone ask mixed with Latin, or Hawaiian , anything but black. Cee Cee is Constance's assistant, and a mixed girl might not be so good for business. It's a historical memoir of these 3 ladies, there lives, loves, marriages, and mistake ...more
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-wins
This is a book I won as an ARC from a a giveaway. The cover is very intriguing and just the perfect image to set the atmosphere for the rest of the novel. I love how the story jumps around to different big cities and shows them in an entirely different light of that of the 30s and 40s. The writing is very sophisticated and describes makeup in a sexy way that adds to the overall swanky feel of the characters and time period.
Rouge is the intriguing and often catty story of Josephine and Constance and their rise in the beauty industry. Mirroring the real life feud of Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubenstein, Rouge has a bit of glamour, behind the scenes gossip, power struggles and sex! Loved it!
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway as an ARC. It reminded me a lot of A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi.

I really enjoyed the character of Josephine. I wasn't particularly a big fan of Mickey's character and tried to hurry through the pages about him. It was an easy, enjoyable read and I read it in a few days. I would rate it a 3.5.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Could not put down. Writing was very exciting. Characters modeled after real life people.
Nothing left to the imagination. Fabulous storyteller. Fun and easy read.
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rouge is a delightful and fun historical fiction novel based somewhat loosely on the real life feud between Helena Rubinstein (Josephine Herz) and Elizabeth Arden (Constance Gardiner) during the rise of their respective beauty empires during the mid to the latter parts of the twentieth century. The two are so much more alike in their thinking and creativity than they realize. Both women actually thrive on the retaliatory moves they make in response to one another's business decisions.
There is
Genevieve Trono
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Rouge is a historical fiction novel that introduces you to two women who are competing against each other in the beauty industry starting in the 1920s. Kirshenbaum delivers an entertaining read that gives us a look at high society, business tactics, betrayal and the power of beauty.

I found that the story was engaging but that the characters lacked a depth that would help me understand them more as people and not just as business rivals. Women running businesses at this time was not common and I
Erin (Drink.Read.Repeat)
*View my reviews at*

Probably like most girls, I don't really have a particularly vivid memory of my first time experimenting with makeup.

Instead, my understanding of the event relies mainly on what my mother remembers. And, as she recounts it, I wasn’t what you would call a natural talent.

As far as she can remember, I first took my first awkward, clumsy, baby-giraffee-esque steps into makeup application as she slathered on her face for the day. I was playing around with
May 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Rouge is a deep dive into the beginnings of the modern beauty industry where two rivals go head to head to outdo each other, and to get beyond their humble starts. Constance is a Canadian who sees the world for the taking, though she has to often deal with her brother's secrets. Josephine is a Polish immigrant living in Australia, just waiting for her big break when it comes to selling her beauty creams. Throughout the decades they are both faced with successes, marriages, children and failures ...more
Rhi G
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Won this book in a goodreads giveaway

This is not my typical genre, (I'm usually into crime/thriller books) but wow this really blew my mind!
Very vivid, felt like I traveled in a time machine and had a front row seat to what it was like back in the 20's+. I love how the book started in the 80's and flies back to the 20's and up; experiencing everything alongside makes the reader connect even better with the characters. Four words I wrote down when I was reading Rouge was; fascinating, fast paced,
Lovely Loveday
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Rouge: A Novel of Beauty and Rivalry is a captivating historical fiction novel written by Richard Kirshenbaum. A story that mirrors what is happening in the real world with characters that are intriguing, relatable, and realistic. Rouge is a fast-paced read that gives you an inside behind the scenes look at the start to finish of cosmetic industry giants. The setting is the 30's and 40's which tells a story of how this time dictated opportunities and the way people lived. I was drawn in from the ...more
THUMBS UP! This was a delightful book that kept me entertained and turning the pages from beginning to end. Definitely worth the read.

I won an ARC in a goodreads giveaway.
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RICHARD KIRSHENBAUM is CEO of NSG/SWAT, a high-profile boutique branding agency. He has lectured at Harvard Business School, appeared on 20/20, was named to Crain’s New York Business’s “40 under 40” list, and has been inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame. He is the author of Under the Radar, Closing the Deal, Madboy, and Isn’t That Rich? and the New York Observer's "Isn't That Rich?" column. ...more

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