New York City, 1968. Elka Hansen, a former teen cover girl, is done with modeling. Now she’s a hostess for the Palm Court restaurant in the beautiful Biltmore Hotel. As she sees it, Elka’s other job is to watch out for her younger sister, Colleen, an idealistic but reckless college student at Barnard.
With her sister, Elka attends her first civil-rights protest, and there, she runs into Jacob Lewis, a co-worker from the Biltmore. He’s a student at Columbia University and a friend of Colleen’s. Jacob becomes an unexpected ally when rescuing her sister from trouble becomes more than Elka can handle independently. Out of this turmoil, a romance grows between Jacob and Elka, but can it last?
Biltmore Girl is third in The Historic Hotels Collection by Dawn Klinge and covers a period of history I don’t often see in Christian fiction. Admittedly, I didn’t read the blurb for it too carefully. I grabbed the book because firstly, I’d read the previous title in the trilogy and, second, it was on sale. So, before anyone else does the same let me point out that this is NOT connected to the famed Biltmore Estate in North Carolina built by one of the scions of the Gilded Age. This was the New York City hotel opened in 1913 and in existence until 1981 when it was gutted and turned into offices.
Nineteen sixty-eight was a difficult year in American history. Biltmore Girl starts with a pivotal event in the NYC Civil Rights and anti-war movements: the protest over planned Columbia University construction, and the consequent occupation of one of the buildings on campus. The shadow of the Draft looms over everything, including Jacob’s decision making regarding his post-graduation future. Readers experience the protest and Robert Kennedy’s assassination through the eyes of Elka and Jacob. The book also touches briefly on the plight of runaway and abused children in New York City when Elka becomes a mentor to a teenage girl.
Despite these heavy subjects, however, I found Biltmore Girl to be an easy read. My first thought upon finishing it was that it was “very cute.” It is the third title in a series but can be read as a standalone. Having read two books in the trilogy, I can now tell that this is a family saga, but I don’t think I lost anything in not having read the first book of the series. I do, however, want to read about Jacob’s parents since they appear to be the focus of that.
Publisher: Dawn Klinge
Publication Date: 12 April 2021
Dawn Klinge is a Pacific Northwest native who loves a rainy day, a hot cup of coffee, and a good book to get lost in. This wife and mom to two young adults is often inspired by true personal and historical accounts. Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Sorrento Girl is her debut novel, the first in the Historic Hotels Collection.
Dawn Klinge’s Website https://www.dawnklinge.com/