Strong Women In Jae's 'Shaken To The Core'
Two strong women drawn together in an excellent historical lesbian romance.
Shaken to the Core is an excellent historical romance set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Two strong women from opposite ends of the social scale find themselves fighting to survive the disaster of April 18th.
I always loved Jae’s historical romances. Jae is known for strong female characters and historically accurate settings. Her latest book is set in 1906 San Francisco and involves Giuliana Russo, a young woman born in Sicily, and Kate Winthrop, daughter of a wealthy San Francisco family.
1906 was a tough time for young women looking for the American dream. Giuliana came to America with her brother Turi. Times were difficult in their native Sicily. When their father died, they had to support a large family. Turi came up with the idea of going to America for a year to make some money as a fisherman. That was the plan: one year, save enough money and then head back to Sicily. But five years later their plan for a better life is destroyed when Turi becomes deathly ill and suddenly passes away. Giuliana is now alone and forced to find any work she can. This is the point where she meets Kate and becomes a maid at the large Winthrop mansion.
Kate Winthrop, like Giuliana somewhere in her early 20s, is expected to find a husband so that he can continue the family shipping business. But she doesn’t want to be only a traditional housewife married within her social class. Kate would rather have a career as a professional photographer with the local newspaper.
To immerse myself in this world, I took note of a few things: Women in 1906 were something like second-class citizens. Women didn’t gain the general right to vote in America until 1920, fourteen years after this book. In addition, the concept of people involved in same-sex relationships wasn’t widely known in 1906. The book showcased how far we have come from the attitude of a woman’s place being in the home.
The interaction between Giuliana and Kate starting with their first meeting just felt real. They grabbed my heart, and I couldn’t let them go. Both women struggled to find their place in a male-dominated world, and they recognize that in each other. The development of their relationship is timid but also very brave under the impression of that time.
Jae went to great lengths to be historically accurate, and when an earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 7.8 hit San Francisco on April 18, 1906, the book has its watershed moment. Pre-earthquake, I was introduced to Giuliana and Kate and their background. After spending a lot of time together, getting to know each other as friends first, their everyday lives suddenly turn into a battle for survival. Both women are forced on a journey which they probably could never have imagined.
Jae writes exceptionally good books, and Shaken to the Core is another wonderful example of her talent for great historical storytelling. The very beginning of the story sucked me into the book, and the style never failed to capture my attention. The romantic relationship between Giuliana and Kate was believable and developed quite naturally.
Jae does it again! Shaken to the Core is an enjoyable book on every level. If you like well-crafted and edited historical romances, this book will grab your heart!