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From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the first book in a stunning new historical saga. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. Even as a boy working in his father's market stall in From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the first book in a stunning new historical saga. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. Even as a boy working in his father's market stall in Camden, he was determined to become a merchant prince. Through hard work and a single-minded determination, James rises quickly through the ranks, with a loving wife, devoted children, and a lofty position in the Malvern & Malvern Company. But when back-to-back tragedies strike the Falconer home, shattering this idyllic life, it seems as though James might never recover his former glory...until a royal summons gives him the chance to prove that he truly is a master of the game. The first book in an expansive and intricately detailed new historical fiction series from master storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford, Master of the Game is filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford's trademark cast of compelling characters.


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From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the first book in a stunning new historical saga. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. Even as a boy working in his father's market stall in From New York Times bestselling author Barbara Taylor Bradford comes the first book in a stunning new historical saga. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. Even as a boy working in his father's market stall in Camden, he was determined to become a merchant prince. Through hard work and a single-minded determination, James rises quickly through the ranks, with a loving wife, devoted children, and a lofty position in the Malvern & Malvern Company. But when back-to-back tragedies strike the Falconer home, shattering this idyllic life, it seems as though James might never recover his former glory...until a royal summons gives him the chance to prove that he truly is a master of the game. The first book in an expansive and intricately detailed new historical fiction series from master storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford, Master of the Game is filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford's trademark cast of compelling characters.

30 review for Master of His Fate

  1. 4 out of 5

    Susan Peterson

    Barbara Taylor Bradford introduced me to grand sagas with her first book A Woman of Substance, along with its sequels. I’m thrilled that she is continuing this tradition with Master of His Fate. I was intrigued by the two storylines; James Falconer, a poor but ambitious and bright young man: Alexis Malvern, a rich young woman who lives a life of privilege. It was fascinating as these two stories intertwined in such unexpected ways. The author does an excellent job of placing the reader directly Barbara Taylor Bradford introduced me to grand sagas with her first book A Woman of Substance, along with its sequels. I’m thrilled that she is continuing this tradition with Master of His Fate. I was intrigued by the two storylines; James Falconer, a poor but ambitious and bright young man: Alexis Malvern, a rich young woman who lives a life of privilege. It was fascinating as these two stories intertwined in such unexpected ways. The author does an excellent job of placing the reader directly into the setting with intricate details of their homes, the fashions, and current events of the time.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    What can I say? It's Barbara Taylor Bradford, folks, the queen of riveting historical romance sagas. Once again you'll be transported into the lives of two fascinating protagonists meant to be together but at a big cost. I won't focus on the plot. I'll let you discover it for yourself (if you can avoid reading the book description or the other reviews below). One thing I will say, however, is grab this book. If you like fluff with a sophisticated edge, that is. Taylor's been at it for a while an What can I say? It's Barbara Taylor Bradford, folks, the queen of riveting historical romance sagas. Once again you'll be transported into the lives of two fascinating protagonists meant to be together but at a big cost. I won't focus on the plot. I'll let you discover it for yourself (if you can avoid reading the book description or the other reviews below). One thing I will say, however, is grab this book. If you like fluff with a sophisticated edge, that is. Taylor's been at it for a while and the results are always appealing. The lady is an ace at knowing how to entice and deliver. I have never been disappointed by a Bradford read thus far and this one is no different. The characters are likable and the story so well-drawn. Suffice to say, I eagerly wait for the next chapter of this new saga. Keep them coming, sweet lady. My thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for having had the chance to read this in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura Spira

    When my children were young enough for me to be still suffering from baby brain I read and enjoyed "A Woman of Substance". I was surprised to see that Barbara Taylor Bradford is still publishing novels so thought I would give this one a try, courtesy of an ARC from Netgalley and St Martins Press. I wonder if BTB herself wrote it. It is phenomenally badly written. Every conversation is stilted and expository. Some of the language is oddly anachronistic - I'm sure Victorians did not describe themse When my children were young enough for me to be still suffering from baby brain I read and enjoyed "A Woman of Substance". I was surprised to see that Barbara Taylor Bradford is still publishing novels so thought I would give this one a try, courtesy of an ARC from Netgalley and St Martins Press. I wonder if BTB herself wrote it. It is phenomenally badly written. Every conversation is stilted and expository. Some of the language is oddly anachronistic - I'm sure Victorians did not describe themselves as chuffed and I'm not convinced that the term "mesmerise" would have been in wide use at the time the novel is set. The characters are wooden in the extreme and the plot is banal. If you have an interest in Victorian fashion - male and female - there are lengthy passages describing the characters' clothing and quite a lot of attention is paid to interior decor. But I can find little else to recommend this book. If family sagas are your thing, Ken Follett does it much better.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda Zagon

    Lindas Book Obsession Reviews " Master of His Fate" by @Barbara Taylor Bradford,  St. Martin's Press, November 20, 2018 Barbara Taylor Bradford, Author of "Master of His Fate" has written an intriguing, intense, emotional, riveting, and captivating novel. Barbara Taylor Bradford is an amazing author that vividly describes her unique characters and dramatic settings. The Genres for this novel are Historical Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction, with a touch of Romance and Mystery and Suspense. The ti Lindas Book Obsession Reviews " Master of His Fate" by @Barbara Taylor Bradford,  St. Martin's Press, November 20, 2018 Barbara Taylor Bradford, Author of "Master of His Fate" has written an intriguing, intense, emotional, riveting, and captivating novel. Barbara Taylor Bradford is an amazing author that vividly describes her unique characters and dramatic settings. The Genres for this novel are Historical Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction, with a touch of Romance and Mystery and Suspense. The timeline for this story is set in Victorian England where there is a huge diversity between the very wealthy and the very poor. The author describes her colorful cast of characters as complex and complicated possibly due to circumstances and events. This is the first in a series, and I look forward to the next book. Alexis Malvern is a beautiful and intelligent daughter next in line to inherit her father's extremely successful and lucrative business.  Tragedy occurs that forces Alexis to step back, and recover. James Lionel Falconer should credit his grandparents for bring up to learn the ways of a gentleman. James has excellent manners and is educated through books in his grandparents house, where they are the head servants given much respect. As a boy, James watches and helps his father in the market stalls. When James is asked what his dream is to be he will say a "Prince Merchant". As James matures, he works his way up the ranks and is honest and hardworking.  He is determined to make something of himself. When Alexis is recovering, James works at the Malvern company. James has a head for business and notices that there is something wrong with the books. There are twists and turns, danger, mystery, suspense and murder. I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy a book of substance.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    I have been a fan of Barbara Taylor Bradford since Woman of Substance. Master of His Fate is the first in a sweeping new family saga. The story is told from two viewpoints and I couldn't wait to find out how the two intertwined. I was quickly transported back in time to Victorian England and pulled into the story of James and Alexis. I can't wait for the next book!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Roesel

    ** DARK ** TWISTED ** ADDICTIVE ** The grand dame of historical fiction is back with a new series – House of Falconer. It brings two highly different people together: Commoner: James Falconer and Noble: Alexis Malvern. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father’s market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, cha ** DARK ** TWISTED ** ADDICTIVE ** The grand dame of historical fiction is back with a new series – House of Falconer. It brings two highly different people together: Commoner: James Falconer and Noble: Alexis Malvern. Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father’s market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. James quickly rises through the ranks, proving himself both hardworking and trustworthy, and catching the eye of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. But when threats against his reputation – and his life – begin to emerge, James will have to prove that he truly is the master of his fate. Through scandal and romance, tragedy and triumph, the Falconer and Malvern family’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways in this expansive and intricately detailed new novel filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford’s trademark cast of compelling characters. Based in romance and intrigue, James and Alexis narratives alternate. MASTER of his FATE is the first novel in a new saga. Can’t wait for the next installment in the House of Falconer series. ***** Barbara took some time to share Holiday cheer with us. What is your favorite Holiday? My favorite holiday is Christmas, and for a variety of reasons, some going back to my childhood, others to my adulthood. What do you love about the Holidays? What I love about Christmas is that it has always been part of my life. My mother loved Christmas time and all that went with it. We always had a small tree, and I loved putting the ornaments on it. We placed sprigs of holly on paintings on the walls, and hung a small branch of mistletoe in the entrance. People who visited us were obliged to kiss us under it, an old English custom. My mother baked mince pies, a Christmas cake filled with fruit and topped with icing sugar or marzipan, as well as her special trifle. And we always had a roast goose on Christmas day. What is your favorite Holiday memory? My favorite Christmas memory is of Christmas Eve, which is the day Bob and I were married. So we celebrate our wedding anniversary and Christmas Day, and give each other two presents! This Christmas Eve we will have been married 55 years. We are going on a cruise to warmer climes and will have our anniversary on a ship. I know it will be as enjoyable as usual. (we say congratulations) Your wishes for the New Year? My wishes for 2019 are that Bob and I stay well and lead our busy lives as usual. But I also pray for more peace in the world. I hope the coming year will be a year of friendship and accommodation. **** Barbara Taylor Bradford was born and raised in England. She left school at 15 for the typing pool at the Yorkshire Evening Post. At 16 she was a reporter, and at 18 she became the paper’s first woman’s page editor and, at 20, moved to London and became a fashion editor and columnist on Fleet Street. She now lives in New York with her husband of over 50 years, television producer Robert Bradford. Barbara started writing fiction when she was just seven years old and sold her first short story to a magazine for seven shillings and sixpence when she was 10 years old. She published her first novel, A Woman of Substance, in 1979. It went from bestseller to super seller within its first year and stayed on the New York Times’ list for 55 weeks. Barbara has had 31 books published, all worldwide bestsellers, and her latest, The Cavendon Luck, is out now. Ten of her books have been produced as TV films or drama series starring actors including Liam Neeson, Anthony Hopkins, Jenny Seagrove, Deborah Kerr, Sir John Mills and Elizabeth Hurley. Barbara holds five Honorary Doctorate of Letters. These are from the University of Leeds, Yorkshire; the University of Bradford, Yorkshire; Teikyo Post University, Connecticut; Siena College, Loudonville, New York; Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, New York. Barbara is the recipient of 25 other awards for her writing achievements and philanthropy. The Brotherton Library of Leeds University is the Keeper of the Barbara Taylor Bradford Archive. All of Barbara’s original manuscripts are housed there (31 works of fiction). They are displayed next to those of Yorkshire’s other legendary writers, including the Bronte sisters. http://www.barbarataylorbradford.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Lynn

    Barbara Taylor Bradford is amazing. She takes a time that is so far into history and brings it to life. As a fan of hers, I know that when I pick up one of her amazing books I will be taken back in time to a land that I am not familiar with, customs that are not known to me, and a way of life that I’ve only heard about in a history lesson. Her books are the best history lessons I have ever read. I can picture the horse drawn carriages, the esteemed houses lit up by gas lights, the beautiful cors Barbara Taylor Bradford is amazing. She takes a time that is so far into history and brings it to life. As a fan of hers, I know that when I pick up one of her amazing books I will be taken back in time to a land that I am not familiar with, customs that are not known to me, and a way of life that I’ve only heard about in a history lesson. Her books are the best history lessons I have ever read. I can picture the horse drawn carriages, the esteemed houses lit up by gas lights, the beautiful corset style dresses, and the rest of the wonders of the era. I loved how involved James’ grandparents were in his life. They let him live while giving him the knowledge, the support, and once in a while a shove in the right direction to make his dreams come true. James’ knows what he wants to do and while he is not from a wealthy family he is taught manners and is educated to make it possible for him to reach his goal of being “Prince Merchant” for Malvern’s. I would put Master of His Fates in the categories of historical fiction, women’s fiction with the twist of romance and suspense. All of the above categories are ones that I look to when I am in need of a book to read. Barbara Taylor Bradford does an amazing job of weaving together the storylines, making them come together seamlessly, and pulling the reader in.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Ever since devouring The Woman of Substance series over a decade ago, I have loved everything written by Barbara Taylor Bradford. After reading some low reviews of this one, I was nervous to start it. My fears were soon allayed, however, as I became lost in the setting and the deliciously detailed story, forgetting all about the negative reviews. Set during the Victorian era in London, England, Master of His Fate chronicled the lives of James, a charming and ambitious young man who dreams of owni Ever since devouring The Woman of Substance series over a decade ago, I have loved everything written by Barbara Taylor Bradford. After reading some low reviews of this one, I was nervous to start it. My fears were soon allayed, however, as I became lost in the setting and the deliciously detailed story, forgetting all about the negative reviews. Set during the Victorian era in London, England, Master of His Fate chronicled the lives of James, a charming and ambitious young man who dreams of owning a successful department store and Alexis, a young woman raised by her widowed father and trained to run his extremely successful department store, or “arcade” as they were called in that time period. The story follows James and Alexis as they pursue their parallel dreams. Alexis was everything I love in a heroine: independent, strong yet likable, as well as charitable, intent on raising funds to open a home for abused women and their children. The descriptions of the time period were vivid, the myriad of characters rich, the plot strong, and I was completely drawn in and mesmerized. As with all of Ms. Bradford’s books, there were a large cast of characters introduced at a rapid pace, but thanks to her masterful writing style, I did not have any trouble distinguishing one from the other. The story included many touching and romantic scenes, while also providing interesting and true to life information about running a successful business in that day and age. As a marketing professional, I was especially intrigued by the latter and lapped up the details. Fans of fashion and Cartier jewelry will also enjoy the colorful descriptions. As with most first installments, this one was utilized as a tool to set up upcoming installments and provided a lot of background information. I can see why this might provoke some readers to give this book a low rating. I, however, didn’t care because I love Barbara’s beautiful writing. That. Much. Master of His Fate, Ms. Bradford’s 33rd novel, was a very auspicious and exciting start to a new historical fiction saga, and I personally cannot wait for the next installment! I received an advance copy of this book. All opinions of my own. Location: England (London) and France (Le Havre and Paris)

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    I loved BTB's "A Woman of Substance," but unfortunately did not enjoy the author's first installment in her newest series. Review to come in Historical Novel Society.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kelsie

    Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford is the first novel in a four-book series, tentatively titled The House of Falconer. This novel, set in Victorian England from 1884 to 1889 centers around two seemingly disparate characters, James Falconer and Alexis Malvern, whose stories are eventually merged in an exceedingly cunning manner. Commoner, James is a young man who begins his career working a market stall with his father, but soon establishes an ambitious plan for his future. Noble, Alex Master of His Fate by Barbara Taylor Bradford is the first novel in a four-book series, tentatively titled The House of Falconer. This novel, set in Victorian England from 1884 to 1889 centers around two seemingly disparate characters, James Falconer and Alexis Malvern, whose stories are eventually merged in an exceedingly cunning manner. Commoner, James is a young man who begins his career working a market stall with his father, but soon establishes an ambitious plan for his future. Noble, Alexis is a young woman with a strong sense of independence, due to her active role in her father’s business. Bradford artfully switches the story from one character to the other without ever losing the reader’s attention. Romance, drama and intrigue are purposefully balanced with an outstanding cast of characters, which includes the family of both main characters. European history is masterfully interwoven into the story, including the emergence of the infamous Jack the Ripper and the rising career of the then little-known Dr. Sigmund Freud. I loved the ending, which leaves the reader with a sense of hope and appropriately sets the stage for the next book in the series. My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. However the opinions expressed in this review are 100% mine and mine alone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Olivia Farr

    "Master of His Fate" begins a new historical fiction series. We begin with James Falconer as a boy- already he has big dreams. He currently helps his merchant father to sell wares at the market, and he absolutely loves what he does. He dreams of owning a big shop and stores to sell wares when he is older. With an idyllic, loving family and grandparents (seriously, Hallmark quality interactions), James is already on the right path for success. Next, we meet Alexis Malvern. Her father owns a tradin "Master of His Fate" begins a new historical fiction series. We begin with James Falconer as a boy- already he has big dreams. He currently helps his merchant father to sell wares at the market, and he absolutely loves what he does. He dreams of owning a big shop and stores to sell wares when he is older. With an idyllic, loving family and grandparents (seriously, Hallmark quality interactions), James is already on the right path for success. Next, we meet Alexis Malvern. Her father owns a trading business and has raised her to take over for him (breaking the mold of the time). She's intelligent, quick-witted, and independent. In fact, she is so independent that she has decided she will not marry and have to worry about her husband's potential issues. Although her father worries that his business will then never be passed through her family, he loves her so much that he supports her in all things. Alexis is starting a charity for women with abusive husbands where they can escape to get on their feet. Between these two characters, following their lives becomes intriguing. I was much more pulled into Alexis's life at the start as James and his family just didn't feel quite real. However, over time, James really grew on me. For lovers of historical fiction and Jane Austen-era/style writing, I think this will be a big hit! Be ready to be pulled into the lives of these individuals and their amazing families. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Dee

    I loved the detailed descriptions of the homes, dresses and surroundings of Victorian London. Once I realized that this was number one of a series, I relaxed into the plot lines and realized that that many would be left unresolved. I was annoyed by the anachronisms, which a careful editor would have resolved. James’ character is a “to be resolved” for me. Perhaps his behavior would be called “gentlemanly” by Victorians. He has an affair with a widow, lies about it, turns on his accuser, then conti I loved the detailed descriptions of the homes, dresses and surroundings of Victorian London. Once I realized that this was number one of a series, I relaxed into the plot lines and realized that that many would be left unresolved. I was annoyed by the anachronisms, which a careful editor would have resolved. James’ character is a “to be resolved” for me. Perhaps his behavior would be called “gentlemanly” by Victorians. He has an affair with a widow, lies about it, turns on his accuser, then continues the affair. Now that James has fallen in love, it will be interesting to see how he matures. This was my first Barbara Taylor Bradford book. Reading other reviews makes me think that earlier books might be worth revisiting. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Davies

    Great storyline, with a really good mix of characters. The story of James Falconer is really interesting with him growing up as a barrow boy but with the dream of working in his own arcades. His grandparents willing to help him with his dream. Then the side story of Alexis who is career minded and not interested in men and marriage until she meets Sebastian and then here world is changed upside down. Really good concept, pleasure to read, the storyline flows really nicely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Karen Trosterud

    I have not read a Barbara Taylor Bradford book in a while.. I really enjoyed this book of good family saga! I’m excited that there will be more books of James and Alexis!! I loved the history behind this book!! I was given an advanced copy to read!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lori Winslow

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. I have always loved Barbara Taylor Bradford, and this story did not disappoint. This book is the first of a series of 4 books set in Victorian England, and introduces what I assume will be the main characters going forward. Without giving too much away, as I was reading the book, I kept wondering how these characters get together, and it was worth the wait. Speaking of waiting, I can't wait for the next book, I sure hope it is coming out soon.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    In this epic new family saga by master storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford, we meet the Falconer clan, James, is the golden boy, the one groomed to lead his family into the future. We are also introduced to Alexis Malvern, only child and heir to the family business, the Malvern company, where the Falconer's have a stall selling merchandise. I truly enjoyed the story and anxiously look forward to the second installment in the four-part series. I felt like I was transported to the 1880's, I felt t In this epic new family saga by master storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford, we meet the Falconer clan, James, is the golden boy, the one groomed to lead his family into the future. We are also introduced to Alexis Malvern, only child and heir to the family business, the Malvern company, where the Falconer's have a stall selling merchandise. I truly enjoyed the story and anxiously look forward to the second installment in the four-part series. I felt like I was transported to the 1880's, I felt the passion, the love, the heartbreak and the hope. I urge you to take the less than positive reviews with a grain of salt (heck, even my 5-star review) and read this family saga and form your own opinions!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michele Benchouk

    I have never read anything by Barbara Taylor Bradford before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I found her descriptions of clothing, jewelry, interiors, gardens, landscapes, and so on to be exquisite. I could easily picture the scene and her attention to detail was amazing in really putting the reader in the story. I enjoyed getting to know Alexis and find her to be likable and real. Her whirlwind relationship was fun to read and heartbreaking, although I found the physical intimacy to be much e I have never read anything by Barbara Taylor Bradford before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I found her descriptions of clothing, jewelry, interiors, gardens, landscapes, and so on to be exquisite. I could easily picture the scene and her attention to detail was amazing in really putting the reader in the story. I enjoyed getting to know Alexis and find her to be likable and real. Her whirlwind relationship was fun to read and heartbreaking, although I found the physical intimacy to be much earlier than expected or plausible. It is because of the elaborate and well-crafted descriptions, and because of Alexis, that I would consider recommending this book to certain readers. James, however, turned me off completely by failing to admit to an affair, calling his accuser a liar publicly, actively working to undermine the career and credibility of that accuser, continuing that affair, and expressing incredulity with his mistress as to why the accuser would spread "lies" about them. Holy cow -- any interest I may have had in his ideas and business acumen now longer matters. How can James NOT know that he should admit his own poor behavior instead of falsely malign his accuser?? Ugh. I have seen way too much lying in recent years to want to spend any more time with James and won't be going back to read more about him. Were it not for the redeeming points discussed above, James would make this book worthy of only one star. I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions above are my own.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karma♥Bites ^.~

    16 Sept 2018: FYI for HF &/or Barbara Taylor Bradford fans: Currently 'Read now' @ NG: https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/boo...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shivangi

    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Either it's been too long and I've forgotten, or my tastes have changed a lot, but I felt like I've read much more interesting things by this author while reading this book? The story felt very flat and boring as I was reading and there was nothing exciting, nothing that made me want to keep reading - I only did it because of the engagement I had, to give the review. There were so many ch Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Either it's been too long and I've forgotten, or my tastes have changed a lot, but I felt like I've read much more interesting things by this author while reading this book? The story felt very flat and boring as I was reading and there was nothing exciting, nothing that made me want to keep reading - I only did it because of the engagement I had, to give the review. There were so many characters to keep track of, which this I do remember being something the author likes doing, but it was pretty annoying and it didn't help that it was an ecopy that I had and going back and forth to keep track of who is who was a bloody pain. And honestly, I don't even remember how it had started out by this point. I mean, other people might enjoy definitely but didn't work for me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Historical Fiction

    Ever since devouring the Harte Family Saga a decade ago, I have loved anything and everything written by the talented Barbara Taylor Bradford. After reading quite a few negative reviews of her latest effort, I must admit that I was a bit nervous to start it. However, from the initial pages, it was apparent that Bradford remains at the top of her writing game. I was soon lost in the setting and the deliciously detailed story. Set during the Victorian era in London, England --- which is a new perio Ever since devouring the Harte Family Saga a decade ago, I have loved anything and everything written by the talented Barbara Taylor Bradford. After reading quite a few negative reviews of her latest effort, I must admit that I was a bit nervous to start it. However, from the initial pages, it was apparent that Bradford remains at the top of her writing game. I was soon lost in the setting and the deliciously detailed story. Set during the Victorian era in London, England --- which is a new period for the author --- MASTER OF HIS FATE chronicles the lives of James Lionel Falconer, a charming and ambitious young man who dreams of owning a successful department store filled with lavish goods, even though his life thus far consists of running a simple market stall with his father, and Alexis, a young woman raised by her widowed father and trained to run his department store (or “arcade,” as they were called at that time). James is a dashing gentleman, as well as a hard worker, who remains fixated on his childhood dream. Alexis is everything I love in a heroine: independent, strong yet likable, and charitable. The story begins with her intent on raising funds to open a home for abused women and their children. What follows is James and Alexis pursuing their parallel dreams. James leaves England to move in with his uncle so he can learn more about his wine shipping business and becomes involved with an older, widowed woman. Alexis, who never thought she would fall in love, let alone marry, has her world turned upside down when she meets an older gentleman named Sebastian. These two storylines are quite romantic, and many of these scenes were among my favorites. Reading MASTER OF HIS FATE is like stepping through a magical door into Victorian England. The descriptions are vivid, the characters rich and the storyline full, and I was completely drawn in and mesmerized. As with all of Bradford’s books, there are a number of characters introduced at a rapid pace, but thanks to her masterful writing style, I did not have any trouble distinguishing one from the other. The novel includes many touching and romantic scenes, while also providing interesting and true-to-life information about running a successful business in that day and age. As a marketing professional, I was especially intrigued by the latter and lapped up the details. Fans of fashion and jewelry will appreciate the colorful descriptions. Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and this one is rich with historical detail while also maintaining a strong plot and supplying a myriad of compelling characters. MASTER OF HIS FATE is an auspicious and exciting start to Bradford’s new series, and I cannot wait for the next installment. Reviewed by Rebecca Wasniak

  21. 4 out of 5

    Caryn Shaffer

    I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. “Master of His Fate” is a sedate romance set in Victorian England that follows two story lines. The first is James Falconer’s story. James is a 17-year-old wannabe merchant who divulges to his grandparents his 5-year plan early in the book. James respects and strives to emulate his father who also is a merchant, and his family members do their best to set him on the right path for success. As James’ story unfolds, the author reve I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. “Master of His Fate” is a sedate romance set in Victorian England that follows two story lines. The first is James Falconer’s story. James is a 17-year-old wannabe merchant who divulges to his grandparents his 5-year plan early in the book. James respects and strives to emulate his father who also is a merchant, and his family members do their best to set him on the right path for success. As James’ story unfolds, the author reveals James is somewhat of a genius with merchandising. On the side, James carries on an affair with a 30-year-old widow. The second story line, and the more interesting one in my opinion, follows Alexis Malvern, a young woman whose father is a wealthy commercial realtor. Alexis is in her early twenties. She has no interest in getting married, and she opens a women’s shelter with a handful of her friends, including one other woman, Claudia. Claudia’s father, Sebastian, who is 40 years old, immediately falls in love with Alexis. Alexis, in turn, falls in love with Sebastian. They get engaged within days of meeting. This book was one of the most unsurprising, literal, straightforward books I have ever read. Has there ever been a time when you wanted to read something uncomplicated? When you just wanted a story without twists or turns? This would be the one. I wanted this book to have teeth. To have more conflict, more drama, more feeling. These were my expectations. This book did not deliver on them, and that’s okay. It’s up to the author to tell the story she wants to tell, not me. There is an audience for "Master of His Fate." The author has written dozens of books since the late 1970s that presumably have done well for her. That said, this would be a 3-star book for me, simply because I felt it lacked conflict and the writing was a little weak. There was a lot of telling, instead of showing. The author seemed preoccupied with the characters’ clothing and the décor of the room instead of cultivating meaningful and realistic connections between the characters. It seemed like every character had the same speech patterns and mannerisms, the same pure thoughts and good intentions, and were, therefore, the same. Someone who likes mild romances will love this book. That someone is not me. I wrote more on my blog here.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dan Curnutt

    In this Historical Novel we begin a new series regarding Merchants and the Aristocracy in 1880's England. There is quite a difference in culture between the two classes. Although things are becoming a bit closer as the Aristocracy is facing troubling times in a declining agricultural economy that is bringing a strong fiscal downturn that endangers their style of living. In this new series of novels we will be introduced to the Malvern and Travelian families who have a high standard of living base In this Historical Novel we begin a new series regarding Merchants and the Aristocracy in 1880's England. There is quite a difference in culture between the two classes. Although things are becoming a bit closer as the Aristocracy is facing troubling times in a declining agricultural economy that is bringing a strong fiscal downturn that endangers their style of living. In this new series of novels we will be introduced to the Malvern and Travelian families who have a high standard of living based upon their financial acumen. We will also meet the Falconer family who are in the lower level of the trade business as well as as household servants. The two classes are fairly far apart, but they do have some overlap. This story revolves around James Falconer a young man who is helping his father by attending to their merchants stall in the marketplace. But James has high goals for himself to rise to the level of owning a complete Marketplace of his own where others have their stalls. The easiest comparison would be that he wants to own what we today would think of as a shopping mall, as well as owning "The Anchor" store for that mall. James is highly intelligent and quite capable for a teenager. We will follow his rise in business as he makes great strides towards his goal. Then there is Alexis Malvern. The daughter of an owner of a vast Trading Business. Her father has built quite the business. But he has no son. So, one day his business will pass along to his daughter (something unusual for this time). Alexis is quite intelligent and capable. But she has one small issue. She doesn't want to marry. It's not that she doesn't like men, but she just doesn't feel the need to have a man in her life and most men are suspect of wanting her for her money. Barbara Taylor does a great job of drawing words pictures for us of the culture of England during the late 1800's. She also brings a story of many lives and situations together that eventually tie everything up in a nice neat bow. There is business, mystery, romance and intrigue. While this is not a barn burner of a story it has a very appealing quality to it that draws you in and keeps you reading. It left me with a strange desire to want to follow along as the characters grow. So, with that said, I'm looking forward to the second installment in the series. Enjoy reading.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ritika Chhabra

    Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. I received a digital copy of this book on Netgalley. "She was an independent woman with her own fortune, and thankfully the freedom to do what she wanted. She was the mistress of her fate." This was the first Barbara Taylor Bradford book that I read, and frankly, I wasn't exactly disappointed. I had heard so much about the author so naturally, I had high expectations. Now although my expectations weren't matched, they weren't downright drowned eith Follow Just A Girl High On Books for more reviews. I received a digital copy of this book on Netgalley. "She was an independent woman with her own fortune, and thankfully the freedom to do what she wanted. She was the mistress of her fate." This was the first Barbara Taylor Bradford book that I read, and frankly, I wasn't exactly disappointed. I had heard so much about the author so naturally, I had high expectations. Now although my expectations weren't matched, they weren't downright drowned either. Bradford is a decent enough author with a natural flair for creating twists, it seems. I loved what she did with the Victorian Era here. I have read many a historical fiction novels before. But I don't think I've read any in which instances from the past have been used in such a way. I liked the Jack The Ripper references and the entrance of Dr. Freud. It was a nice touch, considering the years in which the book is written. I also liked the characterization of all the characters. I mean, each one of them was rather uniquely developed and nicely done, too! What I didn't like, however, was how a certain mystery wasn't solved anywhere. So basically, our protagonist—James Falconer—gets attacked. His friend dies in this attack. He, on the other hand, survives not knowing who or why was he attacked. A cold case. What I didn't understand was why was that attack added in the first place. And if it was a reason to send him to Hull (for his safety) then why on earth was it brought up later again? This was not something that particularly delighted me, especially when it was never solved. I also didn't like how a certain many dialogues did not seem natural. They seemed to have been written for the benefit of the reader, sure, but they were not written the way people normally talk. A little less believable there. But other than that, the plot and pace were rather good. The plot was filled with a nice twists here and there, and it excited me to read more and more until I was done. A decent enough read then, I must say!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    This new series is one I’m excited about. Engrossed by two main characters and their families, you become enchanted by what the future can bring. What a first book for a series. James Falconer is what I call, “the dreamer” and Alexis is “the doer”, and their two stories intertwined set up a solid foundation for the first book and has the reader excited about what the series will bring next. I found James to to be very endearing, his initial dream is what hooked me in and was a promising premise f This new series is one I’m excited about. Engrossed by two main characters and their families, you become enchanted by what the future can bring. What a first book for a series. James Falconer is what I call, “the dreamer” and Alexis is “the doer”, and their two stories intertwined set up a solid foundation for the first book and has the reader excited about what the series will bring next. I found James to to be very endearing, his initial dream is what hooked me in and was a promising premise for the book. Alexis starts her own charity which is something very promising for a woman of her time hence why I call her, “the doer”. There are layers of romance, tragedy, and you obtain a solid scope on how the characters overcome these hardships. Watching the paths of James and Alexis intertwine and grow was facilitating and I’m curious what the future will bring. Synopsis: “Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. Even as a boy working in his father’s market stall in Camden, he was determined to become a merchant prince. Through hard work and a single-minded determination, James rises quickly through the ranks, with a loving wife, devoted children, and a lofty position in the Malvern & Malvern Company. But when back-to-back tragedies strike the Falconer home, shattering this idyllic life, it seems as though James might never recover his former glory…until a royal summons gives him the chance to prove that he truly is a master of the game. The first book in an expansive and intricately detailed new historical fiction series from master storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford, Master of the Game is filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford’s trademark cast of compelling characters.” Thank you Suzy Approved Book Tours and Get Red PR for an opportunity for a gifted copy to enjoy this November 20, 2018 release early.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    I don't think I've ever read anything by Barbara Taylor Bradford, so when I saw that Master of His Fate is the beginning of a new series (The House of Falconer), and it is historical, I decided to jump in. James Falconer is everything you would want in a grandson. Ambitions, hard-working, intelligent, and sensible. He intends to fulfill his legacy, helping his father in his market stall. But James wants to be the boss. When he is discovered by the head of the market, Henry Malvern, he's on his wa I don't think I've ever read anything by Barbara Taylor Bradford, so when I saw that Master of His Fate is the beginning of a new series (The House of Falconer), and it is historical, I decided to jump in. James Falconer is everything you would want in a grandson. Ambitions, hard-working, intelligent, and sensible. He intends to fulfill his legacy, helping his father in his market stall. But James wants to be the boss. When he is discovered by the head of the market, Henry Malvern, he's on his way to reaching his goals. Alexis Malvern, Henry's daughter, is the heir to his fortune. She is also intelligent and hardworking. She has no interest in getting married, for in Victorian London her fortune would then belong to her husband. She is perfectly happy working for her father and being a businesswoman. We follow the stories of these two for most of the book. It isn't too obvious how their stories will come together, but they eventually do. There is a lot of introduction to the characters and families, beginning with James' grandparents, who are successful, but not nobility, and have had a great influence on all of their children and grandchildren. It is all very interesting and didn't bore me at all. The descriptions of the people, surroundings, activities, and clothing were all quite enjoyable. The book blurb says Master of His Fate is "intricately detailed" and that is entirely accurate. What I had a problem with is the mention of seemingly unimportant details like his turning off the light and locking the door when he left. I thought maybe we got this information because someone was going to try to break in later? But no, just extraneous information that I found annoying. These types of descriptions happen throughout the book. Master of His Fate is still a very interesting story, and I enjoyed it very much. I am invested in what is going to happen and will probably someday read the following books in The House of Falconer. Just be aware that when the description says "detailed," it is an accurate description!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Master of His Fate starts a new series by forever writer (40+ years) Barbara Taylor Bradford. It is a historical fiction set in Victorian England and follows and explores the differences of families in both the upper and lower classes. BTB's third party narrative is a bit stilted, but I'll grant the benefit of doubt and say it's due to the era in which the book is set. James Falconer is a favored child within a lower class family. His grandparents are servants to a wealthy family, his father a me Master of His Fate starts a new series by forever writer (40+ years) Barbara Taylor Bradford. It is a historical fiction set in Victorian England and follows and explores the differences of families in both the upper and lower classes. BTB's third party narrative is a bit stilted, but I'll grant the benefit of doubt and say it's due to the era in which the book is set. James Falconer is a favored child within a lower class family. His grandparents are servants to a wealthy family, his father a merchant with two stalls in the local merchant mall. From his youth on, James knew he wanted to be a merchant mogul, owning his own merchant mall, and several large flagship stores. Towards that end, he does everything he can to improve his knowledge in all aspects of buying, selling and marketing, financial skills and acumen, becoming familiar with the finer goods, and determining what people want and how to give it to them. Alexis Malvern is the daughter and heir of Henry Malvern who is the owner of a big business enterprise and real estate company and owner of the Malvern mall where James' father is a merchant. As sole heir to her father's legacy and second in command in his businesses, Alexis is focused on business to the point where she told her father she would never marry because she could not divide her attention so. An independent and forward thinking woman, she and a friend founded Haven House, a place where women victims of domestic abuse could find safe haven. Though several other characters and stories are at play in Master of His Fate, this book focuses on James and Alexis and their lives. While I wasn't blown away by this story, I have enough respect for BTB that I will give the second book in the series a read. Many thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's Press for allowing me to read an e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Zeigler

    I read Woman of Substance and the series many years ago and loved the stories and characters. When I saw this listed on Netgalley I was thrilled to be approved to read it. Somehow I didn’t realize this was a series and by the end of the book I was wondering what was happening with several plots left dangling. The blurb on Goodreads evidently covers the whole series as the majority of the blurb is not covered in this book. It made more sense once I realized this is a series but this doesn’t seem t I read Woman of Substance and the series many years ago and loved the stories and characters. When I saw this listed on Netgalley I was thrilled to be approved to read it. Somehow I didn’t realize this was a series and by the end of the book I was wondering what was happening with several plots left dangling. The blurb on Goodreads evidently covers the whole series as the majority of the blurb is not covered in this book. It made more sense once I realized this is a series but this doesn’t seem to be the same author that I enjoyed years ago. I like the premise and many of the characters and storyline but things just seemed to be too perfect - everyone loves and adores each other, strong family loyalty, charming, good looking, etc. except for a character or two. I was disappointed that I didn’t enjoy the story more. It was slow reading for me but I still look forward to reading the rest of the series to find out more about James, Alexis, and even his malevolent cousin. Before the story begins, there’s a list of several families and how people are related, but there were so many it was too confusing to remember. While reading an ebook, it was difficult to go back to the beginning to figure out the characters and then continue reading. The story has a slow, easy walk sense to it with some romance, mystery, injury, and death happening intermittently. It was interesting to find more modern terms and topics in the story that I didn’t expect with sexual relations and birth control. I love to read historical details about culture, dress, architecture, etc., and Ms. Bradford doesn’t disappoint in this story. Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publisher for allowing me to ready this early copy.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Debi Lantzer

    I loved that there were two protagonists with their two story lines. First there's James Falconer, who is a poor but ambitious and bright young man.  Second is Alexis Malvern, who is a rich young woman living the life of privilege. We first meet James Falconer as a boy with big dreams. He loves his job helping his father sell wares at the market and dreams of owning big stores to sell his own wares when he's older.  His loving family, including his grandparents, put James on the right path to ach I loved that there were two protagonists with their two story lines. First there's James Falconer, who is a poor but ambitious and bright young man.  Second is Alexis Malvern, who is a rich young woman living the life of privilege. We first meet James Falconer as a boy with big dreams. He loves his job helping his father sell wares at the market and dreams of owning big stores to sell his own wares when he's older.  His loving family, including his grandparents, put James on the right path to achieve his goals. Henry Malvern is one of the richest men in London and he is the owner of a very prestigious trading business.  The plan has always been for Alexis to take over his business despite her being a woman. Alexis is smart and quick-witted and especially independent.  She has already decided that she is not going to get married so as not to have to worry about any husband's potential problems.  James works hard and moves up until he is working for Henry Malvern, acquiring money and power as he climbs up the proverbial ladder.  He begins to work on a project with Alexis and something seems to grow between them. I will be honest, between these two characters, I was pulled toward Alexis at the start, but over the course of the story, James and his family seemed to grow on me.  This is a great story showing Victorian England's divide of class between the rich and the poor.  Master of His Fate is a book for all lovers of historical fiction, so be ready to be pulled right in to James and Alexis's lives along with their families. I was provided with a complimentary electronic advanced reader copy from St. Martin's Press through Net Galley in exchange for my post.  I was not required to post a positive review. Thank you!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bookfan36

    Brief synopsis from the book cover: Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father’s market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. James quickly rises through the ranks, proving himself to be both hardworking and trustworthy, catching the eye of Henry Malvern, head of t Brief synopsis from the book cover: Victorian England is a country of sharp divides between rich and poor, but James Lionel Falconer, who spends his days working at his father’s market stall, is determined to become a merchant prince. Even as a child, he is everything a self-made man should be: handsome, ambitious, charming, and brimming with self-confidence. James quickly rises through the ranks, proving himself to be both hardworking and trustworthy, catching the eye of Henry Malvern, head of the most prestigious shipping company in London. But when threats against his reputation – and his life - begin to emerge, James will have to prove that he truly is the master of his fate. Through scandal and romance, tragedy and triumph, the Falconer and Malvern family’s lives intertwine in unexpected ways in this expansive and intricately detailed new novel filled with drama, intrigue, and Bradford's trademark cast of compelling characters. My rating: Story: 5 out of 5 stars Writing: 5 out of 5 stars Character development: 5 out of 5 stars Overall: 5 out of 5 stars Review: I have read most of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s books and this is one didn’t fall short. It has everything a good book needs. It is well written, an interesting story line with the right amount of intrigue and suspense that captures you and makes it hard to put the book down. Set in Victorian England which makes it interesting read from a historical perspective. The characters are strong and well depicted this makes it easy to step into their shoes and it doesn’t take much effort to like them. Defiantly worth a read! I can’t wait for the next installment in the series. I received an ARC through Netgalley at no cost to me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Stivers

    I read Secrets of Cavendon a while back and absolutely loved it. I had one major regret about it though: I hadn't read the first three in the Cavendon saga! So you can imagine my thrill at seeing Bradford was starting a new series, the House of Falconer, and I managed to snag myself an ARC. Victorian England and the business world are such a perfect place to begin this new story. Bradford's research continues to be the best with even the smallest of details recounted to really immerse the reader I read Secrets of Cavendon a while back and absolutely loved it. I had one major regret about it though: I hadn't read the first three in the Cavendon saga! So you can imagine my thrill at seeing Bradford was starting a new series, the House of Falconer, and I managed to snag myself an ARC. Victorian England and the business world are such a perfect place to begin this new story. Bradford's research continues to be the best with even the smallest of details recounted to really immerse the reader in the world of the characters. The families involved all have their own unique worldview and dynamics. I, of course, have a soft spot for Alexis (strong women are my favorite!) but each character is enjoyable. The story really doesn't lag anywhere either, which is impressive for such a novel. I read it in about a week because I really couldn't put it down after the first few chapters. As someone who loves these long multi-generational sagas, I loved reading those tidbits that you know are going to be important later, or at least you suspect they are, and speculating on where I think the story will go next. From a writing perspective, Bradford continues to be one of the last greats in omnipresent third point-of-view, seamlessly taking the reader in and out of the heads of multiple characters in a scene without letting things become convoluted. I can't wait to see where everyone is in book 2! Note: I received a free Kindle edition of this novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher St. Martin's Press, and the author Barbara Taylor Bradford for the opportunity to do so.

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